angel

/Runner_one
I wanted to put down in writing an event that happened to me many years ago.

Back in 1985 I was in the middle of a very nasty divorce from my first wife. Things had gone horribly sideways and spilled over into my job. Sparing all the nasty details, suffice to say I had a breakdown of epic proportions. For weeks I couldn’t function, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and when I did sleep, I was plagued with nightmares. Early one day I grabbed a few things and just began to drive.

I had little money and was in a very dark place mentally. Although I had been raised Christian and grew up in church, I was very far away from God and was living a non-Christian life. As I drove I was in a cloud, I could only see darkness, pain and despair in my future. I could imagine no happiness, no joy, and no future. Suffice to say, I considered my life over at the age of twenty two.

I drove north from Texas and found myself in Oklahoma City. There I turned eastward towards my childhood home of Tennessee. As I drove my despair clouded my perception and I became more and depressed. I really felt like I was driving myself straight into the gates of hell.

Somewhere in eastern Oklahoma I pulled in for fuel and a restroom break. Afterwards, as I continued my journey, I noticed a man standing at the side of the interstate on ramp looking for a ride. He was dressed rather peculiarly for the middle of summer, wearing a long old west style slicker and an ivy cap, sometimes known flat cap or duckbill cap. The reason I noticed him was because, in my mind, he bore a striking resemblance to the Gyro Captain from the Road Warrior film.

I continued my journey and thought nothing more of it. Soon I was forced to stop again as I suddenly needed to use the restroom very badly, which was unusual, as I could, and still do often drive for hundreds of miles without stopping. I completed my bathroom break and turned my car back toward Interstate 40. As I turned onto the on ramp my eyes were drawn to another hitchhiker looking for a ride. Only it was not another hitchhiker, it was the very same person I had seen a short time earlier at my previous stop. I am quite sure I did a double take on seeing him.

For reasons that I did not understand at the time, but have become clearer later in my life, I pulled over and offered him a ride. He got in the car and thanked me for the lift. In a short time he began to make what I first assumed was small-talk. It was far from small-talk, it was as though he could read my soul. He talked about life’s heartache and troubles. It soon became clear that he appeared to know more about me and my troubles than he should. He turned the subject to God and his many blessings. Now more than thirty three years later I don’t remember what all he said, but he seemed to have just the right words I needed to hear. It was, for lack of a better word, miraculous the way he seemed to be able to speak to my soul and lift the burdens I felt were crushing my very spirit. He rode with me the rest of the afternoon. By the time we were approaching Little Rock Arkansas I felt like a new person. He promised me that everything would work out. He said I was just beginning on a new journey and he assured me that God had good things in store for me in the future.

It was very late in the afternoon as we entered Little Rock, the sun was just setting and I decided to get a motel for the night. I stopped at a corner to let him out of the car so he could continue on his way. Before exiting the car he asked me if I could spare a little money for food. I told him that I never give money to strangers because I couldn’t know if it was just to be wasted on alcohol or drugs. I would however be happy to buy him some food. He graciously accepted my offer and I tuned into a nearby convenience store parking lot and went in the store.

All these years later I can still remember exactly what I bought for him that evening. I purchased a pack of bologna, a half-gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. I also picked up some condiments as well as a candy bar for desert. After paying for the items, I exited the store and found him waiting by my car. I handed him the bag of food and thanked him for making me feel better. He, in turn, thanked me for the ride and food. I got in my car and started it; placing the car in reverse I looked around to be sure I wouldn’t hit him backing out, I couldn’t see him anywhere. Because it had only been a moment since he walked toward the rear of my car, I was concerned that possibly he had tripped and fallen behind me. I did not want to back over him, so I placed the car in park and got out to make sure he was clear.

He was nowhere to be seen. I walked around the car, and then I walked around the only other car in the parking lot, nothing. I went in the store and asked the cashier if the gentlemen in the long coat had come in. He said no one had come in since I had walked out. Confused, I walked back outside and walked out to the street-corner and looked all four ways. There was no one to be seen. I walked around and looked behind the building, nothing. I even got down on my knees and looked under my car as well as the other car in the parking lot, nothing. The man had disappeared as though he was a ghost. There is no way, even if he had run, could he have gotten out of sight as fast as he did. The man and the bag of food I had given to him had vanished without a trace, gone as though they never existed.

Finally, I gave up, went a short ways down the road and rented a motel for the night. I went in, took a shower, said a short prayer, and then, for the first time in weeks, I slept like a baby, all night, peaceful and dreamless. The next morning I awoke feeling refreshed and invigorated. The mental clouds were gone, the burden was lifted, and I felt like a completely new man. I continued my journey eastward with a new zest for life.

Eventually I traveled on to Michigan, and then to Florida, where I met a woman slightly older than myself. After my divorce was final, we were married and now more than thirty years later, are still together. The man was right, everything did work out, my wife and I have had a good life. There have been difficulties, and at times the road has been rocky, but the good far outweighs the bad.

I am convinced that the man that rode with me all those years ago was an angel. Often I have looked back on that dark day and wonder where I would be today if it were not for that man’s intervention. Seeing what I was going through, and where I was heading, I fully believe that I would have been in prison or even dead had he not been standing on the side of the road that day. It humbles me and makes me wonder what God saw in me that he would send me an angel.

Since that day, I have often thought of Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. I know many will not believe me, my story or my conclusion. That is your prerogative; however I shall always thank God for the angel that was sent my way that day back in 1985.

Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

There are a few things to note here. The most important thing is that Jesus is talking about false-believers who are trusting in their works to get to heaven. This can be understood when we see what “The will of my Father” is, which is to believe in Jesus for your forgiveness of sins and your righteousness, as seen in John 6:40.

Jesus saying “I never knew you” denotes a lack of relationship with Jesus, his spirit was never inside of them. When he calls them “workers of lawlessness” he’s pointing out that even our best works are sin-stained.

Signs of my salvation

Proverbs 9:10

  1. The theatrical way Jesus reached out to me
  2. The way Jesus used a dream to bring me back from unbelief, evidence of his shepherding me
  3. My love for God and willingness to do his will
  4. My repentance, willingly giving up sin (PMO)
  5. I don’t believe God looks for excuses to condemn
  6. I feel the love in my heart from God, sometimes as heat
  7. His bible promises in Romans 10:9 and John 3:16 and John 6:37 and John 3:36 and Acts 16:28-31 and John 6:40 and Philippians 1:6 and John 10:29 and Phil 1:6 and  John 15:16
  8. God has answered my prayers before
  9. Obedience stemming from faith isn’t a work.. obedience is a posture that leads to works
  10. If John 3:36 is true, you are either, right now, in believing obedience to Jesus Christ, or unbelieving rebellion. For a guy that spent all kinds of time and effort studying this, the answer was astoundingly simple: we either believe the Son, or we do not.
  11. The true evidence of salvation is a changed heart.

He quietly opened his Bible to John 3:36 and asked me to read it aloud to him: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

He said, “How many categories of people do you see in that verse?” “Two,” I answered. “What are they?” “Those who believe, and those who don’t.” “Which are you, J.D.?” Mike was showing me that there are only two postures we can take toward Jesus Christ. We either “believe” or we do not.

Biblical belief, or “faith,” means making a decision. When Jesus called the crowds in Mark 1 to “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15), He was not adding something on top of belief, but clarifying what real belief entails. Repentance and faith are belief in action, meaning they will lead to good works.

We believe not only that Jesus is Lord (as a fact of history), but that He is our Lord as well, and we submit to Him as an act of obedience.

When the writer of Hebrews honors the great Old Testament heroes of faith, he identifies every single one with an action. Noah constructed an ark; Abraham left his home; Jacob blessed his grandsons; Joseph gave instructions concerning his bones; Moses chose to be mistreated; and Joshua circled the walls of Jericho. The great “chapter of faith” is all about actions. Faith is belief in action. In fact, there is no noun for faith in Hebrew, because faith does not exist apart from its action. Faith starts with mental agreement, but if this mental agreement does not lead to obedience, it is not yet “faith.”

Salvation is a posture of repentance and faith toward the finished work of Christ in which you transfer the weight of your hopes of heaven off of your own righteousness and onto the finished work of Jesus Christ. The way to know you made the decision is by the fact you are resting in Christ now.

Spirit-generated belief will always result in a new heart—a heart that loves good works and pursues them for Jesus’ sake. It is impossible for Spirit-generated faith to not lead to these good works, so if they are absent, so is genuine faith. These good works are not, however, the same thing as the faith itself. Faith’s sole object is the finished work of Christ. Faith cannot rest in the good works it produces. Faith cannot rest in itself. Faith that looks anywhere else but Christ will find not assurance but incessant doubt. Only by resting entirely in his finished work can the troubled soul find peace.

Paul’s words to the Philippian jailor were simple and sufficient: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ means acknowledging, submissively, that Christ is the Lord and that He accomplished our salvation, just as He said He did—and resting our hopes there.

This recognition that Jesus is the absolute Lord is called “repentance.”

Those whose sorrow for their sin does not result in a change of actions have not repented.

So closely linked are belief and repentance that the Bible uses them interchangeably: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life” (John 3:36 esv).

Following Jesus means submitting to Him in all areas at all times regardless of whether you agree with what He says or not. Following Jesus means allowing Him to invade every area of your life, not simply influence it. Jesus comes into our lives as “Lord,” or not at all.

In fact, they seem even to make our final salvation conditional on our continued obedience. Acts 12:43  Acts 14:22  1 Thess 3:5 Phil 2:16 Romans 11:22 Jude 20-21 Hebrews 12:15 Hebrews 2:1 Hebrews 3:12-14 John 15:6 Matthew 10:33 Matthew 10:22 Rev 2:7 Rev 2:11 Hebrews 6:11 1 John 2:19

These passages do not teach that you can lose your salvation. But they do teach you something important about the nature of saving faith: Saving faith always endures to the end.

Many go through the initial motions of salvation, yet, after a period of time, fall back into their old ways. Such a person was never really saved to begin with, despite all their early, initial excitement.

Faith that fades, no matter how great the initial fruit, is not saving faith.

Matthew 10:22

One of Paul’s travelling companions, a guy named John Mark, abandoned the mission field because it got difficult, only to be restored later. Think about that—he abandoned the apostle Paul. He “put his hand to the plow and looked back,” showing he was not fit for the kingdom of God.4 Yet he was later restored to full usefulness in the kingdom (Acts 13:5, 13; 2 Tim. 4:11).

Jesus said that no one who came to Him He would ever, for any reason, cast out.6 Ever. If you are willing to repent, He will always receive you.

His saying that if you’ve hardened your heart to the cross, there’s nothing left to say to you, no “better” weapon in God’s arsenal.

Furthermore, Scripture speaks of so hardening your heart against God’s spirit he leaves you alone.

It is true that “once saved, always saved”; but it is also true that “once saved, forever following.”

The book of 1 John gives several confirmatory “tests” that show the Spirit is at work in our hearts.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3–6, emphasis added)

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. (1 John 2:9) If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15) If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:29, emphasis added) No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:14–16)

In other words, if you say you love God and don’t love others, your faith is a fraud.

Generosity and grace towards others is a sign of a true believer.

I think you can boil down John’s list of “heart changes” into essentially two categories: A love for God and a love for others.

When you understand how much you’ve been forgiven, you will forgive.

Throughout your Christian life you will diagnose some spiritual problem—things like “I don’t hate sin enough” or “I don’t love God enough.” The prescription for those spiritual maladies is not to “stop them and you’ll really be saved,” but to believe the gospel, which is the only thing that can cure those maladies. Only by believing that God’s acceptance of you is not based on how much you love God or hate sin, but based solely on Christ’s finished work for you, will you ever gain the power to start hating sin and loving God. It’s the great irony of the Christian life! The only ones who “get better” are those who understand that their acceptance before God is not based on their “getting better!”

God’s prescription for every diagnosed spiritual illness is faith in the gospel.

God’s prescription for every diagnosed spiritual illness is faith in the gospel. Faith releases Spirit-life into the soul.1 “The law” diagnoses our problem; faith in the gospel provides the solution.

“To progress,” Martin Luther said, “is always to begin again.” Go back to the way you started the Christian life—by believing the gospel, that God accepts you just as you are because of Christ—and believe it again. As you do, the power of new life will be released in you.

Most of this post is taken from Greear, J. D.. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: The Teen Edition. B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

My house is made for marriage!

One time when I was dreaming and still with my ex starting with an O, I heard before I woke up, God saying “My house is made for marriage” is a deep, authoritative voice.

Since the bible begins and ends with marriage, and since we’ll all be married to Jesus in the end, I guess this makes sense.

Evolution is a Farce

I went to a private high school and naively thought I wouldn’t have evolution in college. When I got there I was caught by surprise. I knew evolution wasn’t true but I didn’t have the confidence to defend myself and I faltered in my faith. This is a worn out topic, but just want to share my thoughts as I’ve had time to rebuild my beliefs.

Evolution states time and chance take molecules and turn them into man through random mutations in DNA and natural selection. Seen from 20,000 feet it states hydrogen left to itself long enough will turn into a human or that microbes turn into microbiologists.

The following are my simple, rational anchors:

1) Organic evolution: non-living matter spontaneously becomes living matter has never been observed or reproduced. This is the gaping hole of many holes n the theory. Miller-Urey and all spark experiments only produced non-living matter. Teaching evolution as a fact without demonstrable evidence is academically dishonest. Presuming something to have occurred without proof makes evolution a faith. The only other claim of non-living matter becoming living matter is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Both are a faith. Only One has been seen alive.

2) Fossils used for evidence are found in sedimentary rock, one such fossil was a fish giving birth showing rapid burial. Sediment covers the majority of the earth as if by a global flood. 95% of fossils are marine fossils, many of which are found on the tops of mountains. Ocean fossils….on tops of mountains. Fish ancestor fossils thought to be dead for “millions of years” have been found alive (coelacanth) backfiring by showing “millions of years” of precisely no change. Darwin himself stated for his theory to prove true millions of transition fossils would need to be found. As of today there are zero. The theory is not proved true by experiment or by fossil record.

3) Natural selection is better termed natural rejection. It is an eliminating process, not a creative process. Random mutations are not helpful. You do not need mutations, you need completely new additions of DNA. Furthermore, DNA is coded chemicals and functions like computer software. Every living thing runs on a DNA OS.

4) Scientists can not reproduce on purpose anything they say happened by accident. Matter itself is complex and particle physics is a growing field. Every blade of grass has an antenna and solar cell more efficient than anything man has designed.

5) Jesus claimed to be the Jewish God, their Creator in the flesh. Rising from the dead gives one serious clout. Jesus is God and His resurrection confirms the entire Word of God including creation and disproves all other fairy tales of men.

There are a host of other problems with the theory of course, not the least of which are its roots in Aristotle’s natural philosophy, but these few are enough for me allow for complete dismissal.

To be honest, the theory bothered me a lot. Not so much the theory as how it was taught. I was quite upset with the teacher which was due to a mixture of my ignorance and his arrogance and it took me a while to learn what I needed in order to let go. As a young student, I had no idea how absurd the academic setting was and it caught me off guard. I do still sometimes get angry when I hear an atheist ranting but have learned to pray for them instead and keep my peace.

I can only hope that someone is encouraged by this leg of my journey.

Love to all,
William

Jesus Our Redeemer

No greater Joy, do I know,

Then living the Christian Life

No longer indebted to sin,

And with God there is no Strife,

Our greatest need secured,

Jesus is our greatest reward!

No punishment for our sin,

God’s justice saw it put on Him.

He gladly paid the price,

Even though it cost him his life.

For the righteous are raised to Glory Again!

And put by the Father’s right hand.

The Judge is our Redeemer,

Nothing else is as crystal clear.

He saved our deprived souls from the clutches of Death and Hell,

To be raised to life to live with Him.

Forevermore! They cry,

Sin’s stain removed, the curse destroyed.

Jesus Paid It All They Cry!

And we’ll be with him Forevermore!

 

 

Why Lordship Salvation is not Biblical

http://www.preachingjesuschrist.com/why-lordship-salvation-is-not-biblical.html

Why Lordship Salvation is not Biblical

The other side…

Hi Chris,

I used to consider myself a lordship salvation-ist until I realized that salvation is by faith alone through grace alone, not by works.
Submitting to the Lord essentially is a work, something WE DO to EARN salvation! Through this belief, one can never have assurance of their salvation because one can never know when or how they earned it!
I know they are a lot of well meaning Christians who believe it… but if that were the case then how did the thief on the cross get saved? Did he submit to Jesus as Lord by simply acknowledging him in his final moments? In that case, the meaning of ‘submitting as Lord’ becomes almost meaningless because it doesn’t require anything other than a simple acknowledgement. If it’s more than a simple acknowledgement.. then deathbed conversions become impossible!
I believe Lordship salvation may have been created to combat the idea that the carnal Christian is saved, but to attribute our salvation to anything but Jesus blood atonement is wrong! The gospel is so simple even a child is supposed to be able to understand it, another point against Lordship salvation, if intellectual giants like RC Sproul can’t figure out how to have assurance of their salvation, who can?
https://faithalone.org/journal/1997ii/Wilkin.html <– contains RC Sproul quote that he can not be certain about salvation
I believe a Christian can only lose their salvation if they choose to! <– my own belief
I believe people like Francis Chan, while good speakers, cheapen the gospel by saying you have to be some SUPER CHRISTIAN in order to be saved, like he does in his book Crazy Love.
[James 4:4] –  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
This is why anyone who is popular in the world needs to be under a microscope! For example popular people like Billy Graham, compromised the Gospel message to define all religious people as Christs people.. whether they knew him or not!
Here’s a good video on Billy Graham:
 
————————————————————————
 
Now, let’s take a look on where I disagree with Calvinism. 
 
T – total depravity – means man is so deprived that he doesn’t have the free-will to choose God or not to choose him!
 
I don’t believe this, I believe we all have free will to choose God or not choose him! Just because God knows the answer ahead of time doesn’t mean we don’t freely choose him or not! It’s also an assault on God’s character… is he so cruel to predestine people to hell, or is it their own rejection of God that sends them to hell? The Calvinist believes God predestines people to heaven and hell, and that there’s nothing they can do about it! I think God gives people a choice, but he knows the answer ahead of time. 
 
U – unconditional election –  same problem
 
L – limited atonement – same problem
 
I – irresistible grace  – Essentially says that God forces himself on people and when he does, they can not refuse him! Essentially this boils down to spiritual rape, which seems like another assault on God’s character. God gives us the ability to choose to love him or not!
 
P – perseverance of the saints – I can kind of agree with this, the problem is that it assumes those who choose to leave the body of Christ were never Christians to begin with! I believe you are saved, unless you choose not to be ie: you are saved unless you walk away from the Church/faith/denounce Christianity and become an atheist. They would argue that person was never a Christian to begin with!
 
If you want 2 good critiques of calvinism I would look here
 
 
2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqpa4SaHBxg&t=2139s – Why I am not a Calvinist by Robert Breaker
 
 
As always, let me know if you disagree with anything I am saying. I know that our Church and reformed theology may lean towards Calvinism and Lordship salvation. I believed in Lordship salvation until I realized it offers no assurance of salvation! 
 
The gospel message is simple, and we humans try to over-complicate things: 
 
————————

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Resurrection of Christ

15 Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

———————————-

Romans 10:9 English Standard Version (ESV)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

———————————–

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

————————————

 
The only thing we can do to be saved is to believe in Jesus blood atonement for our sins, past, present, and future! If you confess Jesus is Lord, and believe God raised him from the dead, you will be saved! To believe otherwise is to disbelieve God!
 
Before I end this, let’s look at the scary scripture in the bible, which is verse 21 on, but I am quoting the full context of the verse because it’s important.

A Tree and its Fruit
(Matthew 12:33-37; Luke 6:43-45)

15Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20So then, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This verse is not supporting Lordship salvation! Rather, the opposite. Those who lack a relationship with Jesus and trusted in their works are being denied salvation here. 

 
As always, try not to blindly follow but develop your own opinion. If you think you convince me on either I am open to think about it.
 
In Him,
~Clay
 
P.S. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dpin_ZqIQO0

Isaiah 24 Sermon Notes

God will judge the world.

Near death experiences

Amazon river rises and falls 15 ft every 2 hours.

Walk there was ok. Walk back was filled with water.

Taking multiple trips to get people back. Each trip getting more and more deadly.

It was an agonizing 20 minutes.

There was a 16 year old girl who couldn’t make it, she was left w/ 1 rock to stand on. After someone saved her, they thought “What if she didn’t have that 1 rock to stand on?”

Only 1 rock is found to stand on for salvation, that rock is Jesus Christ.

Our hope, security, and salvation are based on nothing else but Jesus.

God’s judgement is cataclysmic!

Isaiah Chapter 24-27

Chapter 13 – Babylon Judgement

Chapter 14 – Assyrian Judgement

Chapter 16 – Damascus

Chapter 18 – Tyre is laid waste

Each world power is judged!

Chapter 24 – God will judge the world!

Isaiah 24-27 – His apocalypse

Words of warning for earth! Final judgement!

We must listen to the severity of what he is saying. He will empty the Earth!

Isiah 24:1 – God will destroy creation!

We can have hope and joy! God has love and compassion!

We deserve his wrath! We have broken his laws!

His judgement is real!

The tide of his judgement will rise again!

When it comes, people will look to a rock to stand on.

Some will stand on the world and fall.

God’s judgement empties the proud of hope

We try to say we don’t deserve it

God will make Earth desolate!

Human pride/self sufficiency will be wiped away first!

What is God judging?

  • Human Pride
  • Human Power (Economic and Military)

Defile/dishonor the honored of the Earth! The wasted city is broken down!

ALL HUMAN PRIDE AND POWER IS LAID WASTE!

Do not trust in yourself, trust in the Lord!

The mythology of human pride. The pride will be brought low.

Work, sports, family, technology, physical health. We all look for strength in the wrong places! We need to find it in God!

God’s judgement undermines worldly security. The Earth staggers like a drunk.

Nations of the Earth are gathered together.
What are YOU standing on? Your own self-sufficiency? Or the Lord?

It will not be long before God’s judgement will leave us nowhere to turn but Jesus. To remove all false hope in jobs, health, money, etc.

We don’t need to wait till the final day until we realize everything except God will fail us.

Isaiah – Even as judgement is happening, there is praise of song towards God!

With the severity of judgement, there is hope! Hope is on the way!

Will make all things new! Joyful praise!

Isaiah 24:23 – Mt Zion – Cling to this rock!

The sun and the moon will be ashamed!

 

 

4/29/18 – Isaiah 19 – Sermon Notes

Mission of the church is to rescue people form drug addiction, poverty, and spread Jesus (“The Great Commission”)

Citizen Kane is the #1 movie with a twist. Open scene he has the dying words “rosebud”. His great life and tragic marriage then sad death. Final scene reveals what rosebud means.

God is the only place of real confidence.

Only when we trust God we find security and peace.

The world in dismay before the Lord.

Isaiah 19 – Egypt

The Lord has power over all creation to shake confidence of Israel in trusting Egypt instead of the Lord.

Egypt represents strength of the world and bondage and oppression in the OT.

Israel puts hope in Egypt instead of God to deliver them from the Assyrians.

Failure of false Gods – Idols are worthless and powerless. Sorcerers and mediums cannot save Egypt, they are dumb!

Yahweh is supreme over the universe. The foolish trust in Egypt. We should look to God alone, no other religion. People think all religions are the same, but the bible is clear all religions do not believe in the same God. False God’s will fail.

Failure in Economic Security

Nile is prosperous in Fish, Plants, and producing Textiles. Verse 6 and 7 rot. Verse 8 fishing industry dies. Egyptians place hope in Nile instead of the Niles creator.

Every election

  • Politicians assure good economy
  • Every economic system in the world is vulnerable
  • We have peace of mind if we have money
  • We should have peace in God, not in money / financial stability
  • We should trust God for provision, security, and protection
  • Not cutting corners
  • Crying out to God
  • Not spend more than we make
  • The Lord never fails
  • The Wisdom of man fails

Verse 12 – Egyptians wise men give Stupid counsel

They think they know better than God, like drunks slipping around in their own vomit.

We turn to our own wisdom

Overwhelmed by trials in life, sometimes life has many trials.

  • We try to solve problems our own way
  • We turn to the world instead of god 🙁
  • God has all wisdom and understanding
  • God is good and does good
  • Don’t let fear or pain drive us away from God
  • One day God will wipe away every tear
  • Egypt will be judged… God reveals that the Lord is the healer of the world

verse 16-24 — 5 ways Gods judgement of Egypt will heal Egypt

  • In that day they will Fear the Lord, which leads to life
  • In that day, there will be allegiance to the Lord
    • 5 cities
    • City of destruction
  • The cities opposed to God speak the language of God’s people in the future
    • No one is beyond God’s reach
  • If en-slavers of God’s people can become God’s people.. anyone can.
  • God redeems Egypt
  • When Israel was enslaved, their cry reached to God

Verse 20 – Now Egypt is crying out

  • Fear of the Lord
  • Crys out to the Lord
  • I will send them a squier
  • they will know and worship me
  • God is making a statement about his own salvation
  • The Lord strikes out against Egypt, they cry out, he sends them a savior Christ the Lord!
  • Jesus makes a way for all people to be saved
  • We are grafted in (“the gentiles”)

Egypt will worship God

  • Grace goes through like a sword and comes out like a song
  • Unity of the people
  • God has created one new man instead of two in Jesus Christ
  • Not forced unity… enemies were united together in worship

Verse 24-25 – In that day, the whole Earth will be blessed by the Lord

Genesis 12:3 – In you all nations will be blessed

No people can not be rescued by God

Come in and worship him together

Come into the blessing of the Lord

Blessing comes through faith in the Living God

Israel my people

The Lord is the healer and redeemer of the world!!!

We are either pushing people towards death (reject Christ) or life (accept Christ).

 

Explore Notes Week #3

Cessationist means they think the gifts have ended. The issue with cessationism is that the argument for it is weak: Basically that since the NT ended so did the gifts. Most people are “open but Cautious” meaning they believe in the gifts, but are cautious when approaching the subject.

Continuationists means we believe the gifts continue. Tongues are specific spirit led praise to God.

We should seek the gifts. The gifts are good, we need them to function as a body of Christ. No amount of gifting has value if you don’t have love. Desire earnestly gifts, they are good, but don’t focus on them.

Holy Spirit: Walking w/ the spirit – We are called to look to live in obedience to God.

Prayer: Calling upon the Holy Spirit.

Wedding Testimony

It took 3 hospitalizations in order for me to come to Christ.

My first hospitalization due to bipolar was in 2011 winter solstice. I had an idea in my head that everything was going to be peaceful and fine if I followed certain steps and that I would eventually meet a girl. I followed certain steps, a man asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, I said “yes”, and there they mistreated me as a drug addict, then wanted to observe me for 3 months as bipolar to get on the right medications. I wanted to leave the hospital very badly at the time. The theme of the first hospitalization was “If there is a will, there is a way”, I just didn’t know who’s will and what way.

My second hospitalization was due to bipolar in 2013. I simply acted like I was demon possessed, which concerned my parents and they took me to the hospital. This time they didn’t keep me as long, and I met a Christian man who tried to tell me about Christ then assumed I was a Christian, when I wasn’t. Still nothing really clicked for me then.

My third hospitalization experience was the most paranormal one where Jesus revealed himself to me in Spirit, that he was behind everything that was happening to me. Other patients there performed an evil prayer over me, which made me think I was going to be damned. Then I thought people there wanted to murder me, and my room mate didn’t help by saying that “they” tried many times to. I experienced audio hallucinations, and the second they mentioned Jesus, Christ revealed his spirit to me directly. Then he gave me another chance to tell my parents about him, and I declared “Jesus is Lord” in front of them.

The third hospitalization to me proved God’s existence to me and I decided to take the introductory bridge course at my church, because I wanted to be baptized. There I learned about God, hell, and sin for the first time in a long time, and began making friends with Christians. And yes, I finally got baptized in June 2016.

I’ve had relationships in the past but nothing was working, and I couldn’t find a suitable partner for a long time. I finally got to a point of frustration with God and prayed to him, “If you want me to be married, I will. If you don’t want me to be married, I won’t”. I mentioned in my bible study I was praying for marriages and was told that they would pray for new ones to occur too. Then I met a lovely lady named Dani at bible study. We clicked immediately, and it was apparent after a while that God choose us for each other. It was also apparent that God had us on the fast track towards marriage, and that the purpose of our marriage would be to glorify God. Dani is the best gift I could ask for, besides Jesus. Without God, we’d have never met. Without being sanctified and prepared by each other by the Holy Spirit separately, we’d never have been compatible. God in his perfect timing brought us together at the perfect time. We plan to be married in Sept 2018.

Calvinism Critiqued

http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html

Calvinism Critiqued

by a Former Calvinist

by Steve Jones


Contents

Introduction

I. Total Inability

The Genesis AccountOriginal Perfection?

Total Inability and the Gospel

The Hardened Heart

Alleged Scripture Proofs

Faulty Application

II. Unconditional Election

Arminian ElectionElection a Mystery

III. Particular Redemption

Universal vs. Limited AtonementIV. Efficacious Grace

The New Birth, ConversionV. Final Perseverance

Conditional PromisesApostasy Texts

Conclusion

Notes


Introduction

For many years, Calvinism was at the heart of my belief system. It was unquestionable that man could not believe the gospel. He had a latent and inborn aversion to all things spiritual, even the gracious gospel that the common people heard gladly in Jesus’ day (Mark 12:37). Man, I held, was totally unable even to cry out for mercy.

The Fall had rendered him incapable of receiving its remedy. Even his best acts were filthy rags, detestable before God. What was needed was a work of Efficacious Grace – a miracle, in fact – that would remove the heart of stone and bestow saving faith.

This I deemed “sound doctrine.” I elevated above the rabble of non-Calvinists all writers and theologians who championed it. They were somehow more worthy of respect. They had an inherently greater demand on my attention and belief. Clark Pinnock describes a similar attitude he developed in the course of his faith-journey:

“Certainly most of the authors I was introduced to in those early days as theologically ‘sound’ were staunchly Calvinistic….Theirs were the books that were sold in the Inter-Varsity bookroom I frequented. They were the ones I was told to listen to; sound theology was what they would teach me.” 1Any Christian who dissented from my soteriology was “an Arminian,” regardless of whether that person subscribed to the issues of the Remonstrance (or even heard of them). As with many Calvinists, my spiritual autobiography had two distinct peaks: my conversion to Christ and my subsequent enlightenment into “sovereign grace.”

This faith was highly attractive because of the men who had held it over the centuries. My spiritual pedigree contained some of the brightest lights the faith has ever known: Bunyan, Spurgeon, Edwards, Whitefield, Brainerd and the Puritans. I was in good company. Years later, however, I seriously re-examined my beloved “five points.”

The main point at which I first questioned Calvinism was the nature of man in his sinful state. To question this point of the system is to question all of it. The last four points of Calvinism rest squarely upon the first, Total Inability. Once that dogma is removed, the entire superstructure crashes under its own weight.

For those unfamiliar with the five points, I will here briefly define them:

I. Total Inability. Man has sunk so far through the Fall that he is no longer capable of believing the gospel. He can no more repent and believe than a dead man can rise up and walk. This is all the result of the sin of Adam, who communicated th is absolute inability, this loss of free will, to all his posterity.

II. Unconditional Election. God has, before the creation of the world, selected a portion of humanity to be saved. This election is irrespective of any foreseen merits or faith. It is only according to the good pleasure of His will.

III. Particular Redemption. Jesus on Calvary bore the full punishment due his elect, ensuring their final salvation. He did not die for the non-elect, who are excluded and hopelessly reprobated.

IV. Efficacious Grace. God moves upon the helpless sinner before he has a single thought of responding to the good news. Grace renews the spiritually dead will, imparts a new nature and infallibly draws the sinner to Christ. Regeneration, or the new birth, occurs before belief in Christ. Faith, in fact, is a gift imparted to the sinner, who is entirely passive in this act.

V. Final Perseverance. Everyone regenerated by God’s grace will persevere and be finally saved. No one who truly begins the life of faith will ever fall away and perish.

This, I believe, is an accurate portrayal of the system, free of caricature. Throughout this paper, many quotes from Calvinist authors should bear this out.

 

I. Total Inability

As stated earlier, the other points rise and fall with Total Inability. They are its logical corollary. In fact, one of the attractive aspects of Calvinism is its remarkable consistency. Each point buttresses the others. That makes it fairly easy to defend. This is especially true if one grants the very first point of Total Inability. The Calvinist knows the battle is nearly won once he establishes this crucial tenet concerning man’s nature. For that reason, I will spend much more time analyzing this point than the other four.

Total Inability is said to arise out of man’s sinful state, his complete spiritual ruin in Eden. It has left him incapable of doing anything good, or even desiring it. Hence, he is disabled and can neither will nor obey any spiritual command – even the invitation to receive Christ. John Calvin sums this up in stark language:

“Let it stand, therefore, as an indubitable truth, which no engines can shake, that the mind of man is so entirely alienated from the righteousness of God, that he cannot conceive, desire, or design anything but what is wicked, distorted, foul, impure and iniquitous; that his heart is so thoroughly envenomed by sin, that it can breathe out nothing but corruption and rottenness; that if some men occasionally make a show of goodness, their mind is ever interwoven with hypocrisy and deceit, their soul inwardly bound with fetters of wickedness.”2As for the source of this total corruption of man, there was but one in the mind of Calvin: “…the corruption by which we are held bound as with chains originated in the first man’s revolt against his Maker.”3 The Fall (not a biblical term for Adam and Eve’s sin) was the cause of man’s inability toward all good. Every man, therefore, is born unable to respond to God. Calvinist theologian Augustus Strong notes: “Man’s present inability is natural, in the sense of being inborn, – it is not acquired by our personal act, but is congenital.”As with our race or eye color, our inability is a state over which we have no control.

The Calvinist, because of his doctrine of Total Inability, denies that man has a free will. All sin-born humanity, without exception, has a will wholly enslaved to always doing what is wrong and unspiritual. Boettner explains this:

“In matters pertaining to his salvation, the unregenerate man is not at liberty to choose between good and evil, but only to choose between greater and lesser evil, which is not properly free will…As the bird with a broken wing is ‘free’ to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able.”5 

The Genesis Account

This loss of ability to receive spiritual truth is one of the consequences of Original Sin, we are told. If this is true, we would surely expect to find some mention of it in the Genesis account. Yet there is no record there of God imposing this curse of Total Inability on man’s nature. There are other curses listed. God pronounced the death sentence, which He defined as a return to the dust (Gen. 3:19). Such language obviously denotes a physical death, not a loss of spiritual ability or a death to God.

God decreed the presence of “thorns and thistles” to make toil more difficult (v.18). He told the woman that she must endure great pain in childbearing (v.16). Both of these curses are trivial compared to what would be the most debilitating curse of all: the removal of all ability to respond to God. Of this we haven’t the slightest mention. George Burnap comments:

“If this doctrine is true, God did not tell man the true penalty, neither the truth, nor the whole truth, nor a hundredth part of the truth. To have told the whole truth, according to this hypothesis, He should have said, ‘Because ye have done this, cursed be that moral nature which I have given you. Henceforth such is the change I make in your natures: that ye shall be, and your offspring, infinitely odious and hateful in my sight. The moment their souls shall go forth from my hand…if they are suffered to live, such shall be the diseased constitution of their moral natures: that they shall have no freedom to do one single good action, but everything they do shall be sin….What an awful blot would such a curse be on the first pages of Scripture!”6It is true that death passed upon all men through the First Adam. His expulsion from the Garden with its Tree of Life removed him from the source of immortality and made death certain. This is also true of his posterity. But the transmission of Total Inability toward God is nowhere conveyed in the text.

Two primary texts adduced to prove the doctrine of Original Sin (Rom. 5; 1 Cor. 15) say nothing about Total Inability. Nowhere are we told that an invincible tendency to resist God was imparted to the race through the offense of one. If there were a place we would expect to find the doctrine, it would be in one of those passages dealing with the relationship between Adam and his descendants. But there is not a trace of such teaching there.

 

Original Perfection?

The Calvinist doctrine raises a more basic question for our consideration: Where do the Scriptures teach that man had a holy, pure nature that became corrupted and transmitted to his posterity? Calvinists, and most Christians, for that matter, assume that God made Adam morally perfect. The London Confession of Faith presupposes this when it says that God “created man after His own Image, filled with all meet perfection of nature, and free from all sin” (Section IV). But where does the Bible convey this bit of information?

It is reasonable to affirm that Adam and Eve were created with an original innocence. This, however, is not the same thing as the London Confession’s reference to “perfection of nature.” Our first parents did lose innocence when they sinned. Their eyes were then opened to good and evil, prompting them to hide from their Creator (Gen. 3:7,8). But it is another thing altogether to say that they fell from a state of moral perfection to total depravity.

Many of the 17th century Polish Brethren denied that God created Adam either immortal or morally perfect. A document drawn up by Faustus Socinus and others expresses this thought:

“As to what pertains to the qualities of Adam before the Fall, it may be asked: (1) Whether or not he was provided with an original justice. This is to be denied;…For why did Adam sin if it is as they say?…God created nothing perfect. For if he had created anything perfect, it would never have been able to sin and the angels themselves, although by far the most noble of God’s creatures, are nevertheless not perfect, because they [some] sinned.”7The fact that God called His creation “good” does not mean it was all morally perfect. Barnabas was “a good man” (Acts 11:24), but he certainly was not a morally perfect man. “Good” can simply mean that it was complete and suitable for the divine purpose. In Ecclesiastes 7:29, it says, “God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” But the word “upright” does not necessarily denote moral perfection.

It may be argued that the passages dealing with man’s extreme sinfulness from birth prove the Calvinist’s point. After all, how could God create beings who “drink evil like water” (Job 15:16) or who are “shapen in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5, KJV)?

While there is no denying the universal sinfulness of man, it should be noted that most of these extreme statements are from prophets and inspired poets who are expressing either outrage or brokenness of spirit. They are bold statements underscoring man’s tendency to go astray. This tendency, we believe, was in Adam as well as every man who followed him. There is no exegetical reason to suppose otherwise.

The Racovian Catechism notes how the character of people – both good and bad – is sometimes expressed poetically in extreme speech denoting a “from the womb” condition:

“David uses a certain hyperbolical exaggeration – of which we have an example in his own writings (Psalm 58:3), ‘The wicked go astray from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.’ Similar instances are found in Isaiah 48:8, ‘I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.’ John 9:34, ‘Thou wast altogether born in sins.’ And also, in the opposite case, Job 31:18, ‘From my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father and I have guided her from my mother’s womb.'”8Man is a sinner. Every person has folly bound up in the heart from earliest days (Prov. 22:15). But was Adam any different? The burden of proof is on the Calvinists to show that he was. The Scriptures never say so, and it is not our responsibility to prove a negative (a logical impossibility).

This is a serious difficulty. The Calvinist’s entire system of soteriology is founded on the grand assumption that Adam was created morally impeccable. He lost perfection through sin and assumed a nature totally corrupted and alienated from God, a nature imparted to all mankind as a curse. But the Scriptural evidence for these contentions is, at best, scant. For the most part, the doctrine is assumed unquestionably. Adam’s fall from moral perfection was established by Augustine’s polemics against Pelagianism and passed on, without alteration, through the barren centuries of the Middle Ages. Calvin received it in toto from his medieval legacy, as has each successive generation of theologians since.

A doctrine that forms such a colossal foundation-stone for the system should have unequivocal proof in the Bible. If a theology is based on an unproven philosophic assumption how can the rest of the system be trustworthy? The Calvinist cannot expect us to believe him unless the consistent tenor of Scripture tells us: (1) God made man morally perfect; (2) Adam’s sin immediately corrupted him and rendered him unable to respond to God; (3) God transmitted this inability to all his descendants.

 

Total Inability and the Gospel

The Total Inability passed to us makes it impossible for us to comply with the command to believe in Christ. The most obvious fault with this doctrine is that it makes the gospel an unreasonable demand. How can God, who is perfectly just, “command all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), knowing the command is impossible to obey?

This is a vexing problem for Calvinists. They will often assert that a command does not necessarily imply the ability to keep it. But the statement is certainly not self-evident. If God gives a command and threatens to punish as responsible agents those who do not comply, it certainly does imply the ability to obey. Orville Dewey writes: “…it would follow that men are commanded, on peril and pain of all future woes, to love a holiness and a moral perfection of God, which they are not merely unable to love, but of which, according to the supposition, they have no conception.”9

That puts the Calvinist in a conundrum. Man is so corrupt, he will not and cannot obey even the slightest spiritual command – nor can he appreciate or even understand it. Yet, God orders him to believe; He punishes him for not believing. As Judge of the Universe, he justly condemns the sinner for not doing what he from birth cannot do. This seems to many of us to be at loggerheads with God’s revealed character.

The Old Testament demands never seemed to be presented as impossibilities for the hearers. Moses said, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach” (Deut. 30:11). What of Total Inability here? Are we to assume that all of the hearers had received the miracle of Efficacious Grace? Moses adds, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways and the commands, decrees and laws…” (v.19).

Moses sets life and death before the Israelites for their consideration. There is no intimation there that he was speaking to people utterly incapable of complying with the commands. He presents the prospects of life and death as genuine options for them to ponder.

Joshua urged the Israelites, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). There is nothing in Joshua’s entreaty that suggests the Israelites were all unable to choose the Lord unless they first experienced an inward miracle.

Joshua did say that the people were “not able to serve the Lord” in their present sinful state (v.19). Repentance was in order. They were called upon to make a choice of the heart and turn from their evil ways. Joshua said, “throw away your foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel” (v.23). Nowhere are we left with the impression that these people were all in a state of Total Inability from birth, innately incapable of yielding as Joshua commanded. Such an idea must be read into the text.

The New Testament uses the same language. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached before thousands who had gathered in Jerusalem. Luke writes,“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation'” (Acts 2:40). Was Peter “pleading” with these people to do something they were impotent to do? He certainly gives no hint of it. Furthermore, Peter’s admonition “save yourselves” would probably be viewed as less than orthodox by many Calvinists.

Jesus himself did not seem to have been a believer in Total Inability. We read in Mark 4:11,12 that he spoke in parables as a judgment against the obstinate Jews. The purpose of parables was to keep his message from entering their ears, “otherwise they might turn and be forgiven” (v.12). Had those stiff-necked people been allowed to hear the truth straight out, they might have turned to receive it. But how? Calvinism tells us that no one can turn and receive the forgiveness of sins because of Total Inability passed from Adam. There must first be an inward miracle of the heart, an “effectual call.”

Calvinist preachers will sometimes say that they can never persuade natural men of the gospel no matter how openly, clearly and earnestly they may preach it. It is like presenting a sermon to a corpse – there is no response. Jesus, however, felt it necessary to obscure his message in parables to keep certain people from responding to it. Had he preached the truth openly they would have turned and been forgiven. This fact alone is fatal to the Calvinist dogma, for it contradicts the notion that all men have a native inability to believe.

Jesus sometimes “marvelled” at the unbelief of his hearers (Mark 6:6). But if he subscribed to and taught Total Inability, it would have been no marvel at all that men would disbelieve God.

 

The Hardened Heart

Total Inability also seems to oppose the Bible teaching concerning hardness of heart. The Scriptures warn us that those who repeatedly trifle with sin may sear their consciences (1 Tim. 4:2), render themselves “past feeling” (Eph. 4:19) and enter into a hardening of the heart toward God and His truth. This is not a condition of birth, but seems to be a consequence of repeated sin.

Isaiah speaks of this condition: “Why, O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?” (Isa. 63:17) The hardening of the heart which precludes reverence of God is here described as a condition that has come upon these people, probably as a judgment for rebellion. But Calvinists tell us that this condition – an invincible anti-God bent – is the birth-condition of all human beings.

In Romans 1, Paul writes of men who are “without excuse” because of the manifest presence of God in the creation. He says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). Here we see men who became futile in their thinking and were given over to a darkened state of the heart. The apostle is not speaking of a condition of birth, but a judgment that came upon them because of willful refusal to acknowledge the Creator.

The Calvinist is hard-pressed to show how this judgment condition of darkness differs from their notions of Total Inability – a state they deem universal. Their doctrine states that everyone is born hardened toward God, unable to believe or take the slightest step toward Him. But if this is true, why do the Scriptures seem to say this only about some people?

Again, Zechariah says of rebellious Zion, “They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty has sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets” (Zech. 7:12). Here, people made themselves insensible to the truth of God, indicating that they were not in this condition from the womb.

There is no denying that all people are born with sinful tendencies and are apt to go astray. This can be established by Scripture and experience. But it is one thing to say that all men have such tendencies and quite another that they are unable to respond to God. General human sinfulness differs from Total Inability. To prove the first is not necessarily to prove the second.

 

Alleged Scripture Proofs:

Romans 3:10-12

There are several passages of Scripture Calvinists employ to support Total Inability. One of the prominent proof-texts is Romans 3:10-12: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” The Calvinist’s main emphasis is on the fact that “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” This is supposed to be speaking of a literal condition in which all human beings are born. They cannot so much as seek God or understand Him.

This poetic “outburst,” a quote from the Psalms, has been beaten and shaped on the anvil of theology to give us a notion of Total Inability. But what is the point Paul is here making? Is he erecting the doctrine of human nature and its relation to soteriology? Not at all. His point is clearly set forth in verse 9: Jews and Gentiles alike are “under sin.” Sin is not peculiar to lowly Gentiles, but also afflicts the favored Jews. He proves his point by quoting Psalm 14, which at the outset tells the readers it is dealing with “the fool.”

As a poet, the Psalmist frequently bursts into hyperbole, especially when hot with righteous indignation. David is teaching the sinfulness of men, but he does so in an extravagant Hebrew idiom to get the point across powerfully. This is a common poetic device. In verse 4, he says evildoers “devour my people as men eat bread.” That, of course, is not literal. David is not laying down a metaphysical doctrine that all men enter this world with a propensity for cannibalism.

This is poetic exaggeration, a common figure of speech not to be read with a slavish literalism. Other Scriptures tell us there are righteous men who do good (contrary to a literal reading of Rom. 3:10). Job is a perfect example: “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). The Bible also tells us of men who sought after God and found Him. In 2 Chronicles 11:16, we read: “Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Lord, the God of their fathers.”

This is fulfillment of the oft-stated promise that “the Lord is good to those who hope in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lam. 3:25). The theme runs through the Bible without the disclaimer that such “seeking” is impossible without an inner miracle.

 

1 Corinthians 2:14

Total Inability is supposed to be taught in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “For the man without the Spirit [or ‘natural man’] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Calvinists will sometimes say, based on this text, that the unregenerate cannot even grasp biblical truths. But is that the idea Paul is articulating? The context does not seem to be dealing with man in his state of birth, but of the various spiritual obstacles Jews and Greeks face. It is particularly those who are “natural men,” men who relate to all things outside of a spiritual reference point. The words of 1 Corinthians 2:14 must be understood within the flow of 1:18 through 2:16.

Gentiles esteem the gospel as foolish because of their penchant for philosophical wisdom (1:22). Jews are repelled by the stumbling block of the cross and their need for signs (1:22,23). Both groups generally have problems that render them spiritually obtuse, driving them to the conclusion that the gospel is foolish.

All of these problems, of course, grow out of human sin. No one would deny that. But Paul is not here making a sweeping theological statement about a Total Inability in every human being. He speaking generally of those “perishing” opposers – both Jews and Greeks – of the message. The context would certainly favor this interpretation.

Paul in other places makes general statements that we would never make absolute and theological. For example, he writes to Titus: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). The assessment is a quote from “a prophet of their own,” but the apostle concurs in verse 13: “This testimony is true.” Is it really the nature of every Cretan who enters the world? Wouldn’t all agree that Paul is speaking generally and not absolutely about Cretans?

But what of the mention of the term “natural man” (lit. “soulish man”) in 1 Corinthians 2:14? The Calvinist assumes that which remains to be proved. He insists that Paul means man in his natural-born state. The New International Version bolsters this view by paraphrasing “natural man” as “the man without the Spirit.” But commentators are not agreed on this. William Barclay, for example, writes:

“So in verse 14 Paul speaks of the man who is psuchikos. He is the man who lives as if there was nothing beyond physical life and there were no needs other than material needs, whose values are all physical and material. A man like that cannot understand spiritual things. A man who thinks that nothing is more important than the satisfaction of the sex urge cannot understand the meaning of chastity; a man who ranks the amassing of material things as the supreme end of life cannot understand generosity; and a man who has never a thought beyond this world cannot understand the things of God. To him they look mere foolishness.”10“Natural man,” then, need not mean “man in his native state.” The Calvinist here allows his theological presuppositions to drive his exegesis. The term can very easily be understood to mean “that man who relates to life apart from a spiritual paradigm.” Nothing in the text demands that this is a description of every person who enters the world.

 

John 6:44

The words of Jesus in John 6:44 are often appealed to as a proof of Total Inability: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This is supposed to teach that man is in a state of inability, one that only a miracle can overcome. The “drawing” here is assumed, without any exegetical necessity, to be the work of Efficacious Grace renewing the sinner so he can – and ultimately will – believe the gospel.

Just what is the “drawing” of which Christ speaks? Calvinists make much of the Greek word, helkuo, which conveys the idea of “dragging.” That seems, however, to run counter to what they often make pains to teach: that the sinner, once renewed, comes willingly.

John 6:44 must be understood in the light of verse 45: “It is written in the Prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” Here the sinner comes to Christ by listening to the Father, not by passively experiencing “Efficacious Grace.”

Look for a moment at the parallels in these two verses. Verse 44 says that no one can come to Christ unless drawn by the Father. Verse 45 says that all who listen to the Father and learn from Him come to Christ. It would seem clear that the teaching ministry of God through His gospel and word is the means by which men are brought to Jesus. There is nothing in the text that necessitates an “effectual call” on a totally disabled unbeliever. This is confirmed by Peter (1 Pet. 1:23) and James (James 1:18), both of whom declare that the Word of God is an agency of the new birth.

 

Ephesians 2:1

Another classic proof-text is Ephesians 2:1, where Paul says that we were “dead in transgressions and sins.” The reasoning goes like this: Man is born spiritually dead. He, accordingly, cannot receive spiritual truth. Calvinists frequently will refer to man as a “walking spiritual corpse.” You can no more get a spiritually dead man to respond to the gospel than you can get a literal corpse to learn Euclidian geometry. One Calvinist author writes about Ephesians 2:1: “Now it will surely be admitted that to be dead, and to be dead in sin, is clear and positive evidence that there is neither aptitude nor power remaining for the performance of any spiritual action.”11

But Paul is not necessarily speaking of “spiritual death” in Ephesians 2:1. Edward White makes an excellent observation:

“An almost universal custom has affixed to these expressions what is termed a spiritual sense; namely, that of alienation from God, who is the highest life of the soul, ‘the strength of our life, and our portion for ever.’ Hence have arisen the phrases, ‘spiritual death,’ and the ‘spiritually dead,’ both of them without example in apostolic usage.“For there seems little doubt that the mode in which the Scripture terms here referred to are handled in the ‘apostolic fathers,’ more fully represents their real meaning than the modern application. That there is a figure in the Scripture use of the term the dead, cannot be disputed. But the question is: Are we to trace the figure in the tense, or in the radical signification of the terms? We submit that the figure is in the tense. The unregenerate men are described as the dead, and dead in sins, because they are certain to die, because they are under sentence of destruction, as men of mere soul. Thus the figure of prolepsis is employed in Gen. xx. 3: ‘God said to Abimelech, Thou art a dead man, for Sarah, Abraham’s wife.’ ‘The Egyptians said, We be all dead men‘ (Exod. xii. 33). ‘All my father’s house were dead men before the king’ (2 Sam. xix. 28). The figure in each of these instances is that of using the present instead of the future tense. The unregenerate are ‘as good as dead.'”12

 

Faulty Application

One great exegetical fault of Calvinism is its tendency to take specific applications of Scripture and make them universal. For example, Isaiah says, “Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness – only wounds…” But the prophet is addressing apostate Israel, not making a theological statement about all men everywhere.

The same is true of the reference to “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6), the “leopard” incapable of changing its spots (Jer. 13:23) and the antediluvians whose hearts were “only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). To take these texts out of their specific, contextual application and make them props for Reformed theology is proof-texting of the worst sort – an unworthy hermeneutic.

The doctrine of Total Inability is not necessitated by the Scripture and should be discarded. Any tenet that portrays God as exacting impossible demands of His creatures and punishing them for not complying is a slander against heaven. William Ellery Channing notes: “It will be asked with astonishment, How is it possible that men can hold these doctrines and yet maintain God’s goodness and equity? What principles can be more contradictory?”13

It is this obvious contradiction between God’s just character and revealed principles of justice that forced me to abandon Calvinism.

 

II. Unconditional Election

The Calvinist tells us that man has no ability at all to cry out to God for His mercy. All humanity, therefore, will certainly perish apart from a forceful intervention from heaven. There is no hope whatsoever that man’s will, ever at enmity with his Maker, can avail him to the gospel. God must reach out and change the man into a new creature who can will to do right. And there is no necessity laid upon God that He must thus intervene in the lives of all of humanity, the Calvinist reasons.

God has decided, before the beginning of time, whom He will save with this “effectual call” and whom He will leave to suffer ruin. This is the doctrine commonly called Unconditional Election. The teaching has a “flip-side,” Reprobation, which holds that God also foreordains the damnation of the non-elect.

There are many texts which speak of God’s choice of His people. Here lies the strength of Calvinism. God chose Israel, irrespective of merit or status (Deut. 7:7,8). He chose Jacob over Esau before either “had done anything good or bad” (Rom. 9:11-13).

When the apostles preached to the Gentiles, we read that “all who were appointed for eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Paul said that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world” and “predestined us to be adopted as his sons” (Eph. 1:4,5). In the garden, Jesus did not pray for the world, “but for those you [the Father] have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9).

 

Arminian Election

Classical Arminianism tends to base God’s selection of His people upon foreseen faith. He looks down the corridors of time, sees who will believe the gospel, and chooses them. I have never been satisfied with this view. Scripture does not say that God chose us because He knew we would choose Him. That would certainly be no choice at all on the part of God.

The biblical term “foreknowledge” offers no support to the “foreseen faith” view. While it is clear that God knew us and loved us before the world was, it in no way means that He noted our future faith and chose us because of it. The Scriptures never tell us such things and we should not assume them simply to get rid of Calvinism.

Another attempt to explain election is by asserting a kind of vague, “corporate” election. In other words, God chose to have a people, a church, but has not chosen the individuals who are to compose that company. That seems to be a very stilted and unsatisfactory approach. In Romans 9, God’s choice of Jacob over Esau was very personal. In Revelation 17:8, there is mention of specific names “written in the book of life from the creation of the world” (Rev. 17:8). There is nothing nebulous or “nameless” about election.

Others say that God only elects us to special service, as Christ chose his twelve apostles. Election, they say, does not pertain to salvation per se. But Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, told them that God had chosen them “to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). Evidently, election is unto salvation, not just to specific ministries.

 

Election a Mystery

Divine election is clearly a Bible doctrine. It no more belongs to the Calvinist than to anyone else. It is really a part of the larger Scriptural theme of the Sovereignty of God, found everywhere in both Testaments. God sets up and deposes rulers (Ps. 75:6,7), operates the forces of nature (Job 37), overrules evil for good (Gen. 50:20) and has “determined the times set for them [the nations of men] and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26).

Dewey makes no metaphysical distinction between the election of grace and the election of mundane affairs of life. All are the result of divine sovereignty, which is past finding out.

“…the apostle says, that Christians are ‘predestinated according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things, after the counsel of his own will.’ If this be true, then everything is a matter of divine counsel; everything is disposed of by election. And men are as much elected to be philosophers, merchants, or inhabitants of this country or that country, as they are elected to be Christians. If this is election, I believe there will be found no difficulty in it; save what exists in that inscrutableness of the subject, which must forbid our expecting ever to fathom it.”14Election is true, but is shrouded in deep mystery. It is one of the secret things that belong to the Lord our God (Deut. 29:29). Calvinists and Arminians both err when they make precise statements about the nature of election. God has not told us whether or not there are conditions attached to it and we should not venture into it with such bold assertions.

The Calvinist, however, does need to temper his view of election with the clearly revealed truth in Ezekiel 18:23: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” Too often, we hear Calvinists say that the damnation of the non-elect is “the good pleasure of His will.” But here, God states explicitly that He takes no pleasure in damning anyone but prefers that they turn from sin and live. How this idea fits into the Calvinist scheme is not at all clear.

Nor is it clear, from a Calvinistic standpoint, why Jesus should weep over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

This poses a thorny difficulty for the Calvinist. First of all, he must assume that the reprobation of Jerusalem was “the good pleasure” of the Father. If that is so, why was it so displeasing and heart-rending to Jesus, who was always in agreement with the divine will? Shouldn’t Jesus have also been “pleased” with the Father’s reprobation of these people?

Secondly, Jesus is here attributing the lost condition of Jerusalem to her own unwillingness, not the want of election. Jesus was willing to receive them but they were unwilling. This seems to contradict the confident assertions of Calvinists about Unconditional Election.

So what doctrine do we put in the place of the Calvinist’s Unconditional Election? Do we opt for one of the many Arminian forms of election? Tempting as that may be, I must now settle on the mysterious Biblical Election, the details of which have not been fully disclosed as we look into our “glass, darkly.” Perhaps further theological works by thoughtful Christians will reveal a more satisfactory resting place for our convictions.

 

III. Particular Redemption

This title is to be preferred to the often-used “limited atonement.” In fairness to Calvinists, they usually do not place the emphasis on a limitation of the atonement, but on its power to save infallibly all who are comprehended by it. The idea is this: If Jesus died for you, you will be saved. There is no chance that you will not be saved. Berkhof writes:

“The atonement not only made salvation possible for the sinner, but actually secured it…the Calvinist teaches that the atonement meritoriously secured the application of the work of redemption to those for whom it was intended and this rendered their complete salvation certain.”15But the Scriptures do mention certain people who are in danger of perishing, even though Christ died for them. Peter wrote of false teachers who were “even denying that sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2 Pet. 2:1,2). Here were men “bought” who, nevertheless, had made shipwreck of their faith.

Paul urges the Romans, “Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died” (Rom. 14:15). This does not seem to fit the Calvinist view of redemption, which makes destruction impossible for all objects of Christ’s cross-work.

Still, the main point of contention for many is the scope of Calvary, the individuals for whom it was intended. Calvinists say Jesus made a vicarious atonement for the elect and the elect only. Arminians claim that Christ died to make full atonement for every human being on the earth. The debate over universal and limited atonement has been hot for centuries.

 

Universal vs. Limited Atonement

Some Calvinists will argue that a universal principle does exist in the atonement. The death of Christ, they say, has secured many non-redemptive benefits for mankind in general. This they frequently sum up under the heading of “common grace.” Boettner writes:

“God makes His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. Many temporal blessings are thus secured for all men, although these fall short of being sufficient to insure salvation.”16Where do the Scriptures ever state that temporal blessings in the natural realm – sunshine, rain, etc. – were secured for mankind by Christ’s death? There is not a shred of evidence for this idea; it is entirely philosophical and conjectural.

In the debate over the extent of the atonement, Calvinists will point to Scriptures connecting Christ’s death to a specific people: his sheep (John 10:11); his friends (John 15:13); “many” (Heb. 9:28). Arminians will produce passages indicating that Jesus died for the “whole world” (1 John 2:2); “all” (2 Cor. 5:15); “every man” (Heb. 2:9).

These texts can be harmonized when we consider that the redemptive benefits of Christ’s death are both specific and universal. God has placed the life-giving fountain of Christ’s blood in His Church. Our Lord “loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). The Church was “bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). That makes the atonement of Christ specific; it was for His Church.

But the atonement is universal in the sense that the Church’s gates are wide open to “everyone who calls” (Rom. 10:13), to “him who is thirsty” (Rev. 21:6), to “all you who are weary and burdened” (Matt. 11:28). The invitation to believe, be baptized and enter the Church extends to “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). In that sense, the atonement is universal and available to all.

Or, looking at in another way, Christ’s blood is “the blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:28). Jesus died for those in the covenant of grace, not for those outside of it. Is that fatalism? Not at all. Anyone may enter that covenant by becoming a Christian. It is open-ended. The atonement, therefore, is both limited and universal. It is both specific and general.

 

IV. Efficacious Grace

Few Christians would deny the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion. The sweet influences of God upon sinners are sometimes sudden. A text of Scripture, a gospel sermon, an act of kindness can come alive at once to melt the heart with supernatural force. We read in Scripture of God giving people new hearts to serve Him, or turning people to Himself. He opens eyes and ears. Lydia had her heart “opened” by the Lord to give heed to Paul’s message (Acts 16:14).

However, the Calvinistic doctrine of Efficacious Grace stretches far beyond the figures of speech in Scripture. Efficacious Grace, we are told, is an immediate, miraculous transformation of a man’s nature. In an instant, the totally depraved sinner – who has been unable and unwilling to make the slightest move toward God – is given a new nature. He is born again unto a life he never sought and never desired.

This is a logical necessity of Total Inability. Man cannot believe; therefore, God must act upon him and bestow a new capacity. God must regenerate the passive, spiritually oblivious man before he can even accept the gospel. The Westminster Confession defines it:

“All those whom God has predestined unto life, and those only, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace” (Chapter X, Section 1,2).Boettner believes the “inner call” is so swift that the sinner is not even aware of this miraculous change.

“It is an instantaneous change from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is not even a thing of which we are conscious at the moment it occurs, but rather something which lies lower than consciousness.”17The Calvinistic doctrine leaves many questions unanswered. First of all, we must ask where the Scriptures ever teach that God must regenerate a man’s nature before he can believe. While this is consistent with Total Inability, it does not seem to be a truth revealed in the Bible with any consistency. Did God have to grant Abraham a new nature before he could make the decision to leave Ur of the Chaldees? Was the call to faith “irresistible?” If so, it seems peculiar that the Bible would praise his faith. Abraham could certainly not be commended for something in which he was wholly passive.

 

The New Birth, Conversion

The authors of Scripture attribute the new birth to the hearing of the Word, not by an instantaneous act that precedes faith: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).

Jesus spoke of being “born from above” or “born again” in John 3. Speaking to Nicodemus, he said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (v.3). Calvinists will tell us that man is as passive in the new birth as an infant is in literal birth. Charles Hodge writes, “At birth the child enters upon a new state of existence. Birth is not its own act. It is born….The Scriptures teach that it is thus in regeneration.”18 But figures of speech should not be pressed into the service of theology in this way. The context of John 3 would indicate that man is not passive in the new birth.

In verse 5, still on the subject, Jesus says, “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” Evidently, being “born of water and the Spirit” is the same thing as being “born again.” Birth of water seems to indicate Christian baptism (alternative interpretations here are extremely tenuous). But a person entering into New Testament baptism is anything but passive.

The new birth, then, is the transformation of a person’s status through the hearing of the word, the reception of the Spirit and submission to Christian baptism. These things usher the believer into the Christian community and give him a new beginning, a new identity. He is no longer who he used to be. He is born anew.

The conversion of Lydia (Acts 16:14) does not prove the Calvinist’s point. God was not here opening the heart of a totally depraved rebel. She was already “a worshipper of God,” not a so-called “spiritual corpse.”

Passages that speak of God changing a man’s heart or giving a new one do not necessarily teach the Calvinist doctrine. It is not uncommon for the Scripture to speak of man’s inability to do things without the divine influence; yet, this does not make man wholly passive. For example, in Psalm 127:1, we read: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchmen guard in vain.”

Solomon is not here saying that man is passive and cannot erect a house until God supernaturally removes an inability toward building. This is figurative speech conveying man’s dependence upon his God in all things. No one would think of contriving a metaphysical dogma that man is dead to building homes or guarding cities.

Man needs a heart toward God and righteousness. Sometimes the Bible tells us that God changes the heart, sometimes that man must change it. Both things are true. One text is looking at conversion from the divine perspective, the other, from the human.

The Calvinist may find support in Deuteronomy 30:6: “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live.” But in Jeremiah 4:4 we read: “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem….” One text speaks from the divine side, the other, the human.

Accordingly, the Psalmist asks that his heart might be inclined by God toward keeping the commandments (Psalm 119:36). Later on in the same Psalm, the writer says that he had inclined his own heart to do this (v. 112). Neither statement was intended to formulate a tenet of theology. They are simply two perspectives on the same subject.

 

V. Final Perseverance

The Calvinist believes that once quickened by Efficacious Grace, the believer can never fall away. The change effected on the sinner is permanent. The Westminster Confession says, “They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved” (Chapter XVII, Section 1).

This is one of the most passionately debated of the Five Points. The various arguments for and against this view are many and would take us far beyond the scope of this article.

One hinderance to seeing the issue clearly is the tendency of many Christians to see salvation primarily as a past event. Hence, it is common to hear people ask, “When were you saved?” Scripture sometimes puts salvation in the past tense (Luke 7:50). Usually, however, it is viewed as an eschatological event. “Through faith [you] are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).

If the New Testament authors saw salvation as a future event, then it is not productive to any discussion to ask whether a man “can lose his salvation.” None of us fully possesses salvation as yet, except for the “earnest” or our inheritance (2 Cor. 1:22).

The apostles expected to pass through a judgment according to works before they would fully enjoy salvation (Rom. 2:6). Paul did not see himself as already having attained it (Phil. 3:10-12) and so he pressed forward. In the meantime, he recognized that he was to keep control of his body, lest he himself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27).

Final salvation is conditioned upon continuing in the way of faith and bringing forth the “fruit” of Christian living. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). Those unfruitful ones who do not remain in Christ (presented here as a real possibility, if words have meaning) are “picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (15:6).

Paul told the Colossians they were reconciled by Christ “holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Col. 1:22). But he was careful to qualify that statement: “If you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (v.23).

 

Conditional Promises

The glorious promises of the Scripture are always conditioned upon perseverance in the faith, even when this is not expressly stated. We believe perseverance is an unspoken condition in all the passages adduced to prove a rigid notion of “once-saved-always-saved.” This includes John 10:27,28. Here Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Calvinists and other believers in “eternal security” argue that real apostasy of a born-again person is an impossibility because Christ said that his sheep “shall never perish.” This does not follow. God makes promises both with and without expressly mentioning conditions. In Deuteronomy 33:27,28, God says to the people of Asher, “The eternal God…will drive out your enemy before you, saying, Destroy him! So Israel will live in safety alone; Jacob’s spring is secure in a land of grain and new wine where the heavens drop dew.” The promise is presented as if there were no strings attached. Earlier in the book, however, God lays down stringent conditions for receiving such blessing and protection (28:15-68). There is no contradiction here. The promises are to be understood in the light of conditions, even in those places where the conditions go unmentioned.

 

Apostasy Texts

The passages that warn Christians against falling away give no end of trouble to Calvinists. On the one hand, they must affirm the threats are real and to be taken seriously. On the other, they are forced to confess that there is something hypothetical about them – that they will never truly come to pass for the “saved” person.

“It is impossible,” wrote the author of Hebrews, “for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Heb. 6:4-6).

The usual way out of this knotty problem is to say that these are not truly born-again disciples. They are false professors, tares among the wheat. J. C. Ryle, for example, writes, “The person here described as falling away has no characteristics which may not be discovered in unconverted men, while it is not said that he possesses saving faith and charity, and is elect.”19 But the text does say these people have “shared in the Holy Spirit,” which certainly sounds as if they were Christians. Besides that, these warnings are against “falling away,” a misnomer if they never attained the position from which to fall.

In chapter 10 of Hebrews, we read a similar warning: “Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (vv.28,29).

For years, I tried to read this passage in a way that would make these people false Christians who never experienced regenerating grace. That is a difficult task, however. The text declares that someone can be “sanctified” by “the blood of the covenant” and still fall from the faith.

This does not mean I believe that Christians are in constant peril of apostasy. While we are called to vigilance, we ought not to go through the life of faith in a fearful state. We have been delivered from that (Rom. 8:15). God is faithful. The Hebrew Christians to whom these warnings were written were in danger ofgiving up the faith utterly and retreating back into Judaism.

For the most part, it seems likely that Christians will persevere in their faith until the end. But that does not preclude the possibility of forsaking that narrow way leading to life. We must be on guard, as the Scriptures warn us repeatedly, but we have ample reason to be hopeful if we are following Christ. Dewey writes;

“We believe, that a man, who has become thoroughly and heartily interested in the true gospel, doctrine and character and glory of Jesus Christ, is very likely to persevere and grow in that interest….I can hardly conceive, how a man, who has once fully opened his eyes upon that Light, should ever be willing to close them. And I believe that in proportion as the Gospel is understood and felt, felt in all its deep fountains of peace and consolation, understood in all its revelations and unfoldings of purity and moral beauty; that in proportion to this, the instances of falling away, whether into infidelity or worldliness, will be more and more rare.”20 

Conclusion

Calvinism is one more illustration of the futility of systematic theology. God’s truths, particularly relating to soteriology, are too lofty to be put into concise formulae. The Five Points of Calvinism oversimplify the profound truths of God. They derive their force from proof-texts rather than the general tenor of Scripture.

More than that, the doctrines frequently create a spirit of division, elitism and theological snobbery. The system erects walls between believers. It creates a class of Christians within the church general who are supposedly part of a worthy “inner circle.”

Many Calvinists read nothing but Reformed titles, hence these brethren seldom learn new perspectives. On the contrary, they are continually reaffirming their own “theological correctness.” Such authors such as A. W. Pink, the Puritans, John Murray and such publishing companies as Banner of Truth become the sole staple for many. I say without intending offense that such exclusiveness differs little from that of Jehovah’s Witnesses or other authoritarian groups.

Of course, I do not intend to paint all Calvinists with this brush. Many are thinkers who read outside literature, even Arminian literature. But the overarching trend in this tradition – a tradition of which I was once a part – is often one of narrow-mindedness and doctrinal superiority. As we have seen, the Scriptures give no warrant for such bigotry. The average Calvinist may be amazed at just how weak his system is when scrutinized in the light of revealed truth.

May our brethren see fit to adopt a Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) and honestly rethink their Calvinism. We would urge them to, for a time, lay aside the commentaries of Calvin and Gill, the theology of Warfield and Hodge. With an open Bible and mind, may they take a second look at the so-called “doctrines of grace” to see if they truly are the doctrines of Christ.

 

Notes

1Clark Pinnock, The Grace of God, The Will of Man (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 1989, p. 17.

2John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), reprinted 1983, vol. I, p. 291.

3Ibid., p. 273.

4Augustus Strong. Systematic Theology (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son), 1890, p. 343.

5Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 1957, p. 62.

6George W. Burnap, Lectures on the Doctrines of Christianity (Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe and Co.), 1848, pp. 131-132.

7George Hunston Williams, The Polish Brethren, Part , (Missoula, MT:Scholars Press), 1980, pp. 102-103.

8The Racovian Catechism (Republished London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster Row), 1818, pp. 327-328.

9Orville Dewey. Discourses and Reviews Upon Questions in Controversial Theology and Practical Religion (New York: Charles S. Francis), 1873, Vol. III, p. 97.

10William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press), Revised 1975, p. 28.

11Warburton, quoted by Boettner in The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, pp. 65,66.

12Edward White, Life in Christ (London: Elliot Stock), 1878, p. 281.

13The Works of William E. Channing, “The Moral Argument Against Calvinism,” (Boston: American Unitarian Association), 1889, p. 461.

14Dewey, p. 99.

15L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 1949, p. 393.

16Boettner, p. 160.

17Ibid., p. 165.

18Ibid.

19John Charles Ryle, Never Perish (Choteau, Montana: Gospel Mission Press), reprinted 1980, p. 16.

20Dewey, pp. 91, 92.

 


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Open House Church Articles

There is only one way

Some people think Christians are narrow-minded to think there is only one way to heaven. Some go as far as to consider these beliefs a hate crime. They somehow twist the truth of “being specific” with “being prejudiced.” If we have a disease and go to a doctor, and he or she explains that “there is only one known cure, and here is the pill for that cure. It will rid you of the disease,” we wouldn’t say to the doctor, “I’m offended! There must be more than one cure, and I am not going to accept this pill.” No, of course not! We would be grateful for the cure and gladly take the medicine. In the same way, all of humanity has a disease. It is called “sin” (Rom. 3:23; 5:8, 13–14, 17–19). There is only one antidote, and it is Jesus Christ (John 10:28; Acts 4:12).

Wiese, Bill. What Happens When I Die?: True Stories of the Afterlife and What They Tell Us About Eternity (pp. 17-18). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

The Fall Of Bablylon

Isaiah 13:1-13

God’s plan for the world throughout all of history is the destruction of the united world system known in the bible as Babylon. God will punish the world for its evil.

The world can seem attractive with it’s sinful pleasures and pursuits of power. The world is not from the Father but of the world. The world will be judged. Whoever does the will of the Father will live forever.

Isaiah 13-14: Words of judgement against Babylon, who has become a major military and political power.

What does Babylon have to do with the world today? It’s more relevant than just a historic nation. It started with the Tower of Babel.

  • symbol of attractive earthly pleasures
  • foolish dependence on man
  • In sin, idolatry, in opposition to God
  • Babylon represents Human Glory
  • Worldly arrogance that defies God
  • Idolatrous adoration of pleasure and possessions
  • Picture of the modern world apart from God
  • We are surrounded by Babylon
  • sinful luxury and self sufficiency

Isaiah 13-14: God wants you to know the world system that goes against God fallen world promises pleasure and prosperity.

God will judge Babylon in the future. Enemies of God will be judged. Lord of : Hosts is summoning an army for the Day of the Lord. DAY OF THE LORD = IS NEAR TERROR.

Once mighty Babylon was fallen ruins untouched by years until archaeology came along. Babylon’s destruction means God will keep his Word.

Greed, nationalities, pride, nations that want to make a name for themselves are under God’s judgement.

Judgement: Gods supremacy is at war with our claim to supremacy.

We are born enemies of God.

How can we escape judgement of Babylon and join the people Zion?

The proud will be humbled, the arrogant sinners will tremble before the Lord of Glory. The shameless will be full of shame. The popular will be irrelevant. We are all sinners and must be punished!

Our only hope is to be clothed in the Righteousness of Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 14:1 – The Lord will have compassion!

There is a compassion that runs deeper than our shame. The people of God will reign with Christ. The people of God who are lowly and oppressed will one day be exalted, will share in the rule of Christ.

Stop running after Babylon.

When the Lord gives resat from pain and  turmoil… the Lord has promised he will give you rest and peace we are currently missing. We will celebrate the victory of God!

Death mocks our claim to be God!

End of Babylon! Worldliness and pride!

Babylon will fall.

People of God rejoice when all oppressors and evil doers receive the judgement of God!

We will not grieve for the lost on the day of judgement. We will sing praises to the Lord!

Revelation 18+19 describe the fall of Babylon, rejoicing in its fall. Zion will be our eternal refuse.

Signs that God wants me to give

  1. The same day I started giving to the Israel / Christian foundation, God performed a financial miracle for my room mate and I benefited from it
  2. The same day I fulfilled my tithe (and more), my Fiance got a job! 🙂
  3. …..Reserved for the future…..

Is My Child In Heaven?

Yes, there are even scriptures in the bible to sort of support the idea your child is in heaven.

[Matthew 18:3 ESV] [Matthew 19:14] [Mark 9:37 ESV] [Mark 10:14-15 ESV]

Children will not be in heaven because they are innocent. Paul taught clearly that children are born under condemnation of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12) . . . . If children are saved (and I believe they shall be) it can only be because God credits their sin to Christ; and because they are too young to believe, the requirement of personal faith is waived. The clear teaching of the Bible is that the souls of those children who die before they reach the age of understanding and responsibility are taken to the New Jerusalem with Christ to live joyfully with Him until the day of resurrection when they shall receive their own immortal body fit for eternity. I believe the Bible shows us that children will be in heaven. —GRANT JEFFREY

Wiese, Bill. 23 Minutes In Hell: One Man’s Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in That Place of Torment (p. 112). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

The Box Top of Life

The box top is the Bible, the answers to those five questions are:

1. Origin: Where did we come from?—We are created beings, wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27; Ps. 139:14).

2. Identity: Who are we?—Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are creatures of supreme worth. We are loved by God and endowed with certain God-given rights and responsibilities (John 3:16-18; 1:12; Gal. 4:5).

3. Meaning: Why are we here?—Adam and Eve were created in a state of innocence, but their choice to disobey condemned the human race to punishment in accordance with the infinite justice of God (Gen. 3:6-19). Since that time, each of us has confirmed the choice of Adam and Eve through our own disobedience (Rom. 3:10-12; 5:12). We remain in this fallen state so that we can make free choices that will have implications in eternity. This temporal life is the choosing ground for the 3. eternal one. Choices we can make that will bring glory to God (Isa. 43:7; John 15:8), and may bring us eternal rewards, include:

a. accepting the ransom Jesus paid in order to free us from eternal punishment and welcome us into his eternal presence (Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:15; Luke 16:9; John 14:2)

b. serving as ambassadors for Christ to help others make that same choice (2 Cor 5:17-21; Matt. 28:19); and

c. learning from our own sufferings to comfort others who suffer (2 Cor. 1:3-4), and realizing that our sufferings enhance our own capacity to enjoy eternity (2 Cor. 4:15–5:1; 2 Pet. 1:5-11)

4. Morality: How should we live?—Since God first loved us, we should love him and others (Rom 5:8; 1 John 4:19-21). In fact, the “whole duty of man” is to “fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccles. 12:13-14). This includes making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19) and enjoying the good things God gives us (1 Tim. 6:17).

5. Destiny: Where are we going?—God’s infinite justice demands that he punish our sins, but because of his infinite love he has taken the punishment on himself (Isa. 53:4, 10, 12; Rom. 3:26; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). This is the only way he could remain just and still justify sinners (John 14:6; Rom. 3:26). His gift of salvation from eternal punishment is free to all the world (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Rev. 22:17). It cannot be earned through good works or any kind of merit. And God wants everyone to be saved from the eternal punishment we all deserve (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). But since he cannot force us to love him (forced love is a contradiction), each one of us must choose for ourselves whom we will serve (Josh. 24:15; John 3:18).

Geisler, Norman L.. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Foreword by David Limbaugh) (p. 383). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Highest form of God’s wrath on Earth

The highest form of God’s wrath on Earth is God removing his restraining hand from a person and allowing them to sin all they want to, essentially sending them to hell. We get this from Romans 1.

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

I should have been a junky..

From: https://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity/comments/7una6u/i_should_have_been_a_junky/

I turned 30 today. I hardly ever go on Facebook, but thought I’d reply to the bday messages piling up on there.

When I was 16, I ran away from home. I’d been living with my single dad for 10 years, and my mum was an alcoholic/addict. As I type this now, my sister, brother, nephews and nieces are all either alcoholics or ice addicts.

I was surrounded by drugs and alcohol in my rural community. It was everywhere – in the homes of my best friends who id visit, in my school, and also in my own homes.

But when I was 16, I dropped out of school, and ran away to Sydney, Australia with the little amount of money I had, and started completely from scratch. A month later, my mum died by crashing her car a hundred metres away from her home. She was drunk..

Since then – and although it took me a long time to get the hang of things – I’d reform my life. I came to Christ when I was 21, quit drinking, quit my violence and wild temperament, and enrolled into ministry at 24. Since then, iv preached in 4 continents, been used by God to bring other people to Christ through my testimony and preaching ministry, and am currently living in China doing things with my life that I never thought possible… and though I still struggle with a lot of things and have plenty more room to grow, I know that I am ok.

Back to Facebook… I came across some pictures of my old best friends from the town I escaped from. And what I saw just gave me so much sadness. They all (all) look like the heroin addicts I used to pass by everyday on my way to work in Sydney. The pruned face, the sunken cheeks, and the dead eyes… the emptiness. Surrounded in their photos by paraphernalia and alcohol.

It really hit home. My mum, my dad, my best friends – everybody throughout the course of the first 16 years of my life – fell to it..

Everyone except for me.

It makes me sad, but it also opens my eyes. It made me see behind the vale, of how God protected and guided my fragile life through the vast mine-field of crime, alcoholism and addiction that I was living amongst… it makes me see, that although iv had my share of moments with God where iv doubted Him, and even been angry at Him, that behind the scenes He’s always been my ever present help in danger. He’s always held me in the palms of His hands, and kept me away from monsters that would eat me up..

And today, I’m 30 years old. I still look youthful. I’m fit and healthy, and my mind is sharp and powerful. I have amazing friends, and fulfilling relationships. I’m clean from the harm that should have succumbed me. I don’t say this to brag or gloat, but only to call attention to the bleak reality that could have (should have) been…

I’m so grateful for my God.. and I love Him so much for what He’s done for me.

I hope that anything iv shared can also help you to reflect on God, and also help you to see His working in your life in a clearer way.

Thank you, Jesus.

23 Minutes in Hell, book and youtube!

 

You still may wonder how a good and loving God could send someone to that horrific place called hell. To put it plainly, He doesn’t. It is your rejection of the provision (Jesus) for your sin that sends you there. We all have a free will, and we can choose not to repent. (Repent means “to turn or change.”) In Deuteronomy 30:19, God says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life” (emphasis added). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Will you believe Jesus? Or will you reject Him?

Wiese, Bill. 23 Minutes In Hell: One Man’s Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in That Place of Torment (p. 78). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

Anthropic Constants: Fined tuned conditions required for life on Earth

Anthropic Constant 1: Oxygen Level—On earth, oxygen comprises 21 percent of the atmosphere. That precise figure is an anthropic constant that makes life on earth possible. If oxygen were 25 percent, fires would erupt spontaneously; if it were 15 percent, human beings would suffocate.

Anthropic Constant 2: Atmospheric Transparency—The small window the astronauts must hit reflects the exacting standards by which the universe has been designed. While the atmosphere presents a reentry problem for the astronauts, its present qualities are absolutely essential for life here on earth. The degree of transparency of the atmosphere is an anthropic constant. If the atmosphere were less transparent, not enough solar radiation would reach the earth’s surface. If it were more transparent, we would be bombarded with far too much solar radiation down here. (In addition to atmospheric transparency, the atmospheric composition of precise levels of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and ozone are in themselves anthropic constants.)

Anthropic Constant 3: Moon-Earth Gravitational Interaction—As the astronauts begin to sling around the moon, they encounter another anthropic constant. This one regards the gravitational interaction that the earth has with a moon. If the interaction were greater than it currently is, tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe. If it were less, orbital changes would cause climatic instabilities. In either event, life on earth would be impossible.

Anthropic Constant 4: Carbon Dioxide Level—Of course such a rig is not necessary here on earth because just the right level of carbon dioxide is maintained naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. This is another anthropic constant. If the CO2 level were higher than it is now, a runaway greenhouse effect would develop (we’d all burn up). If the level were lower than it is now, plants would not be able to maintain efficient photosynthesis (we’d all suffocate).

Anthropic Constant 5: Gravity—The gravity that is pulling the astronauts back home is still another anthropic constant. Its strength may be terrifying, but it couldn’t be any different for life to exist here on earth. If the gravitational force were altered by 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, our sun would not exist, and, therefore, neither would we. Talk about precision!

  1. If the centrifugal force of planetary movements did not precisely balance the gravitational forces, nothing could be held in orbit around the sun.
  1. If the universe had expanded at a rate one millionth more slowly than it did, expansion would have stopped, and the universe would have collapsed on itself before any stars had formed. If it had expanded faster, then no galaxies would have formed.
  1. Any of the laws of physics can be described as a function of the velocity of light (now defined to be 299,792,458 meters per second). Even a slight variation in the speed of light would alter the other constants and preclude the possibility of life on earth.
  1. If water vapor levels in the atmosphere were greater than they are now, a runaway greenhouse effect would cause temperatures to rise too high for human life; if they were less, an insufficient greenhouse effect would make the earth too cold to support human life.
  1. If Jupiter were not in its current orbit, the earth would be bombarded with space material. Jupiter’s gravitational field acts as a cosmic vacuum cleaner, attracting asteroids and comets that might otherwise strike earth.
  1. If the thickness of the earth’s crust were greater, too much oxygen would be transferred to the crust to support life. If it were thinner, volcanic and tectonic activity would make life impossible.
  1. If the rotation of the earth took longer than twenty-four hours, temperature differences would be too great between night and day. If the rotation period were shorter, atmospheric wind velocities would be too great.
  1. The 23-degree axil tilt of the earth is just right. If the tilt were altered slightly, surface temperatures would be too extreme on earth.
  1. If the atmospheric discharge (lightning) rate were greater, there would be too much fire destruction; if it were less, there would be too little nitrogen fixing in the soil.
  1. If there were more seismic activity, much more life would be lost; if there was less, nutrients on the ocean floors and in river runoff would not be cycled back to the continents through tectonic uplift. (Yes, even earthquakes are necessary to sustain life as we know it!)

Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has calculated the probability that these and other constants—122 in all—would exist today for any planet in the universe by chance (i.e., without divine design). Assuming there are 10^22 planets in the universe (a very large number: 1 with 22 zeros following it), his answer is shocking: one chance in 10^138—that’s one chance in one with 138 zeros after it! There are only 10^70 atoms in the entire universe. In effect, there is zero chance that any planet in the universe would have the life-supporting conditions we have, unless there is an intelligent Designer behind it all.

Geisler, Norman L.. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Foreword by David Limbaugh) (p. 98-106). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Hell is Eternal Punishment

Yes – Hell is eternal everlasting punishment – See Matthew 25:41,46

As for lake of fire… yes again, everlasting eternal – see Eccl 3:14 , Rev 20:10Rev 21:8Rev 14:10-11

The bible is clear, there is no annihilationism because none mentioned in these verses cannot be forever and ever suffering recompense if they cease to exist at any time – Isa 48:22 –

3-As for sticks being gathered to be burned are being gathered to the 2nd death which is defined as the lake of fire.


Because it’s in the bible…

[Matthew 25:41] [Matthew 25:46] [Ecclesiastes 3:14] [Revelation 20:10] [Revelation 21:8] [Revelation 14:10-11]

The bible is clear, there is no annihilation-ism because none mentioned in these verses cannot be forever and ever suffering recompense if they cease to exist at any time

[Isaiah 48:22]


 

What many folks do not understand is the nature of God’s wrath and his wrath mentioned as fire.

Nature of God’s wrath is defined in Romans 1:18,24 as God turning over people to the lust of their own hearts, impurity, dishonor. in other words, he gives them what they want. In the OT, he did so with Israel when they sinned. He did so – to wake them up to the need to repent and if they did not, then wham…it was bad news.

Fire of God’s wrath – Deut 32:22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, And shall burn to the lowest hell; It shall consume the earth with her increase, And set on fire the foundations of the mountains. NKJV

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus describes the current hell as a place where suffers from their own torments (lust, impurities, dishonor, etc) with no repentance offered as it is in this mortal life. In this hell, as with the future lake of fire it is just recompense meted out. The current hell will be tossed into the lake of fire in the future. The nature of the current hell uncovers and reveals what a person is really like on the insides – their true sin nature, lust, pride, ect all brought forth.

How can I share this in a way that makes any sense without sounding callous?

We all lose unsaved loved ones to death and we think it cruel they should suffer so in hell. In God’s great justice he offers all, in this life, their chance. These folks reject that in exchange for denying God totally as evidence by how they abused, neglected, rejected, etc, and taken advantage God’s good Character and nature for their own gain in this life.

If allowed into heaven, in their unsaved state, their corrupted spirit man continues on – God does not take away life 2 Sam 14:14 – and with a full and complete intimate knowledge of God’s character traits and nature revealed to them after death, if allowed into heaven, they would turn heaven into a ruin, decay, hell. That God will not allow.

God’s character traits are found in the bible – he is a God of the living and not the dead, he reneges on no gifts, callings, promises, word he gives, he is merciful, just, righteous, Holy, etc and etc, judges with equity, etc and etc. People exploit these attributes today in this mortal life and will continue to so in their eternal unsaved state.

We think we really know someone beloved in our families but do we really know what they are like on the inside – their thoughts – their hidden actions? No, we do not. I have lost family members who were not saved and seemed decent enough but found out latter they were not that nice and decent or moral.

People in hell, know they deserve such a place and the more their real them is uncovered, you feel pity that they rejected all of God’s overtures to them in this mortal life, yet, I have no remorse for them. Why is that?

I experienced hell and the afterlife. It is only by God’s grace alone I was allowed to come back with a report on it’s nature their. I experienced it as an unsaved person does so I know first hand what it means and feels like to have your true nature, the real you, completely uncovered – for that – I have no sorrow or remorse for those in hell but rather have pity and remorse for those mortally living right now because out of God’s justice, God gives people a chance to avoid that place in many ways. He is so just that he gave free will to people, and the Lord fears no one he made with free will.

In this life people can hide their true selves in many different ways. In the afterlife- eternity seals the deal. What a born again person passes on, they do so as sanctified, redeemed, changed. They will have no tears, no sorrows, no sadness, no sin, no sickness, no pain and no thinking about those who did not make it because one comes into understanding of God who paid it all to save those lost and those that reject that – are no more in ones mind all because you have an understanding of who God really is and is like.

There is No Hope Without Jesus

Jesus taught the Resurrection of the Dead, and he proved it by resurrecting Lazarus and himself from the Dead.

Without Jesus, there is no Resurrection of the dead.

The Resurrection of the Dead

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith. In that case, we are also exposed as false witnesses about God. For we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead, but He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ is for this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Without the Resurrection of the Dead, we all enter eternal death aka the void. It’s the end forever, and life was ultimately pointless and about hedonistic pleasures. There is no Hell, but there is no Heaven either, and no judgement.

With Jesus, we have the Resurrection of the Dead, which promises perfect judgement upon humanity. For those clothed in Jesus, Heaven, for a large majority that reject, Hell.

While I do not like the idea of Hell, or so many people going there, I do like the promise of Heaven! Eternal joy! That means that life isn’t pointless, and that there is meaning in the universe, and that meaning is to worship Jesus! The Resurrection and the life! :)

Therefore, I will stick to Jesus, because without him, there is no hope!

My Only Hope Is Christ

Christ, My Only Hope

My Only Hope is in Christ,
The one who can heal blind eyes,
Power to raise the dead,
Is the way, the truth, and the Life.
Without Christ’s resurrection I myself lay dead forever in an endless void,
I am not my own savior! For I have my own sin to pay for.
Christ, the Living God, Paid it all.
He paid for my past, present, and future sin,
I will do my best not to test him.
Sin is pleasure fleeting, Christ is pleasure eternal.
Future wedding of Eternity, God the bridge groom, us his bride.
He upholds me, and has no time for pride.
Praise His Holy Name Forever Amen,
Power and Glory to the one who came and rose again!

I Suffer!

I Suffer

 

In Pain mixed with Anguish mixed with Faith,

I suffer silently,

Crippling depression is mine.

My parents love me, for sure.

Everyone else just wants to Use me.

I’m tired. How long, Oh Lord, must I Suffer!

How long, Oh Lord, until you wipe away all my tears!

I feel the pressure of torment… Mine own torment torments me!

Like being stuck under the sea,

Pressure builds! Lava flows! The hot, searing pain of anguish!

The futile, lingering pain of depression!

Why would God create me, just to let me suffer?

Why must I suffer all the day! Does anyone even care but myself?

On the outside… I have everything.. a car.. a home.. a job.

On the inside I’m empty as an old man’s Tomb. Filled with dead bones and dust!

I believe in this life I am called to suffer! The bible tells me to rejoice in it!

Sometime’s I wish I never existed! What a life that would be!

Death seems like the easy way out! What a seductress!

She hands me wine filled with poison,

And offers me a drink of everlasting peace,

But like all gifts from Satan, it is a lie!

My only consolance,

Is that Christ himself was a man of suffering,

He drank the cup of God’s wrath,

And bled freely for me.

In my turn God calls me to suffer!

Live life with your years passing you by as a simple office worker!

Watch everyone you know grow up to be enslaved into that same system

Of working until you retire then die.

Oh, the false peace of death! She puts on her red lipstick and wants to kiss me!

While I long for the final embrace, I fight all the day long to avoid the sweet kiss!

An atheist says it’s final, death is the end. I know that is a lie. As a Christian, I am promised eternal life!

I’m excited for that life as long as I’m not suffering in it!

My life is suffering all the day long,

My agony rots my bones.

No doctor can fix me. No therapist can heal me.

I’m broken, Lord.

Utterly ruined. I reject myself! How can YOU Accept me!

I long for the final Kingdom of Everlasting piece,

I fight against the seductress of Death. Please keep her far from me, O’Lord!

While I must suffer all the day, every day!

While my days rot in agony!
Lord, please revive my days! Give me life! To the fullest!

Until the day of the Lord’s coming,

I suffer!

He Loves Us!

Fire in my heart,

Redeemer of my spirit,

Gave me a new start,

For him I believe it!

He rose from the dead,

To conquer our foe,

He made us from scratch,

Like a soft mold of dough.

He loves us! He loves us!

We cry with glee,

Nobody compares,

To his majesty!

A loving Lord

A Loving Lord by me

A loving Lord,

A God of all,

Made man clothing,

After the fall.

Suffered as one of us,

To pay our crime.

He’ll restore us all,

In a matter of time.

God of dignity, God of grace,

One day we will all see his face.

Eternal joy awaits ahead,

After one, in Christ, appears dead.

Death shall pass away, and be no more.

God will save us, EVERMORE!

Habits of Grace

Habits of grace Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciples

Concepts Book Review

Hear His Voice

1. Preach the Gospel to self. For Example:

1. We are all sinners, and our sin needs payment

2. God himself through Christ payed for our sins by his death on the cross, and therefore is now exalted at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

3. If we accept Jesus and proclaim him as Lord, he will intercede for us at the right hand of the Father and will be the payment for our sin. This gives us eternal life in heaven with Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

4. By rejecting Jesus, we pay the sin for ourselves in eternity.

2. Read the bible

* Meditate over the gems of God’s word

* As meditation is the best prep for prayer, so prayer is the best issue of meditation.

* Scripture is personal, it talks to you!

3. Memorize Scripture

While memorization is not the goal, understanding is. It gives us a mind closer to the mind of Christ.

4. The center of lifelong learning for the Christian is this: knowing and enjoying God himself in Christ through the Gospel word and written word of the scripture – in hearing, reading, and memorizing the bible.

Have his Ear: Prayer

1. Prayer is not about getting things from God… but from getting God

He is more ready to hear us than we are to pray. Prayer is both scheduled and spontaneous.

2. Closet prayer

a) Pray in private

b) begin with scripture

c) adore, confess, thank, and ask OR ACTS: Ask, confess, thanksgiving, supplication

d) Divulge desires

e) Added power to prayer when agreed upon. When multiple people agree on the same prayer, it adds more power to the prayer.

3. Fasting

a) w/ others

b) non-food fasts

4. Journaling – not essential because Jesus didn’t even do it 😉

Improve writing Skills

Practice the habits of grace

a) self examination

b) meditate on verses and puzzle with scriptures

c) dream about new endeavors

Keep it simple and private.

5. Solitude – take time away from people in order to be closer to God

a) journal

b) pray to God for insight before going alone

c) Reflect

d) Don’t force it.. relax

6. Fellowship

Allows building each other up, you can confess your sins to each other, be in prayer, keeping each other in faith, good listening is an act of love and asks good questions. Good listening helps hearing from God.

We were made to worship Jesus together. Corporate worship is the single most important means of grace and our greatest weapon in the fight for joy because it combines his word, prayer, worship, and fellowship. An example would be bible study or community group. Worship is the end of itself, happiness in god.

7. Preaching

True christian preaching magnifies Christ, not the hearer or speaker. Good preaching allows the bridge (Church) to encounter the groom (Christ) through the preaching of his word.

Preaching reveals Christ to us.

5 Graces of Preaching

1. Forget ourselves

2. To fill our faith our souls are strengthened by the preached Gospel

3. Further Sanctification – grow in grace

4. To build up Christs body. Good preaching is faithful to the word.

5. To Encounter Jesus.

The Lords Supper either brings blessing (us Closer to Christ) or judgment (farther from Christ) for those in sin or unbelievers

1. It proclaims Jesus death

2. Spiritual union with Christ

The blessings of Rebuke

* Calling others to correction is a great act of love

* Whoever hates reproof will die

* Whoever heeds reproof is honored

The Lord reproves him whom he loves

Before rebuking someone, pray for them, and be kind in the rebuke. If you have the same sin as them, focus on yourself first. Follow up rebuke later if needed. James 5:19-20.

The CODA Commission

When our life in Jesus is healthy, we not only ache for him but we want to spread the gospel to others.

Discipleship

a) Sharing the gospel with the un-churched may reliven the Christian spirit.

b) Helps us be honest in our sin, we die to selfishness

C) Lean heavier on Jesus

d) We don’t center on ourselves but on Jesus

The dollar

Generosity is a means of grace. 2 Corinthains 9. We can’t out-give god.

The clock.

Time > money

The Long Hike

The Long Hike by me

Welcome, friend, to the longest hike you’ve ever been on.
You’ll get sick, tired, depressed, and lonely on the longest hike,
You’ll experience peaks and valleys,
Rain and shine,
Sickness and health,
O’ where is the final destination!
Some may think the grave,
But alas there is one, with the power to save.
Death is not my destiny, eternal life is mine.
My sin was nailed to the cross, by a man so divine. 
I sow and reap life, I burst out of the grave! 
Due to the man, with the power to save.
Death may want to take me on a date, to steal my life away.
However I belong to one greater, with the power to save.


Jesus! Jesus! Jesus Christ the Lord,
Man of God, Word of the Spirit, wielder of the 2 edged sword,
Off with death’s head, eternal life is mine,
For on that rugged Cross, bled a man so divine.
Head of the household, we know him by name,
Jesus Christ has himself rebuked ALL of my shame. 

The Almighty Lord of all… Praise Poem!

My love for Christ is like a thunderous waterfall,

The wellsprings of eternal life pour out as my heart pants for God.

The streams of life flow around me and into the throne,

As God satisfies all my needs.

My deepest troubles, my greatest despairs, will all be soothed by God in time,

I’ll be joyful for eternity, only distantly remembering the pains of the trials of this life.

God will honor my deepest wishes to be in communion with him for all time. God will honor my need of making Christ my Lord and Savior. God will grant me the desires of my heart.

God is the greatest good, and he does what he does for the benefit of his creation. He saves, he restores us, and he alone rescues us from Death.

We will be the first fruits of his bountiful harvest. Joy, Honor, and Peace will reign supreme in eternity, without the chance of Sin rearing its ugly head, for it was put to death on the cross.

God has purified us by pressing down on us, crushing us, turning us into diamonds.

Each day we groan with anticipation for heaven…. ETERNAL JOY!

Each day we toil for the cause of Christ on earth, for we are the keepers of his word.

Our prayers causes the heavens to shake and move as mighty Angels descend into the fire of our crises on Earth. Healing ensues after the pain. After the child is born, the mother’s labors are over.

We all like the unborn, waiting to be born into our true home by our true Father.

Nothing will ever separate us from his unfailing love, truth, mercy, and justice.

All will be reconciled to him, all will be judged by him.

Some judged to eternal life, others judged to eternal condemnation. The only difference?

The eternal Son, Christ, the forgiveness of our sins through his own shed blood.

Who is this God, who would shed his own blood for our forgiveness of our own iniquity?

None other than Christ Jesus, the Almighty Lord of All!

Calvinism TULIP

https://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm

There are two mains camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Arminianism and Calvinism. Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin. Calvin lived in France in the 1500’s at the time of Martin Luther who sparked the Reformation.

The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.

Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples’ sins who have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation).

Basically, Calvinism is known by an acronym: T.U.L.I.P.

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.

Total Depravity:

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.

The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”

Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

Unconditional Election:
God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

Limited Atonement:
Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).

Irresistible Grace:
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy“; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.
鄭ll that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” (John 6:37).

Perseverance of the Saints:
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.

Who loves them more?

NiallR from Reddit writes:

When I became a Christian I was in a similar position, in that none of my family were Christians. So I did all the things you’ve suggested – I prayed, I talked at every opportunity, I left tracts around the house and so on. And nothing happened.

So I start giving God grief, “Heh! I love my family. I’m praying, witnessing, doing all I can. Why haven’t You saved them.” Those weren’t the exact words, but that was certainly the gist of it: “God, I’m doing my bit, You don’t seem to be doing Yours.”

The Lord stopped me with a simple sentence. It was a sentence that gave me both peace and reassurance. And, as so often in the ministry of Jesus, the sentence was a question. He said, “Who loves them more?” Well that certainly stopped me in my tracks and put it into perspective. Yes, I love my family; but God sent Jesus to die for my family. Who loves them more? He does.

So I carried on with the praying and the witnessing, but without the pressure that, “I’ve got to get them converted or they’ll go to hell.” Which is very common – and understandable – amongst new Christians. One by one, over many years, my immediate family came to Christ.

My suggestion is to do whatever seems right to you, but without any pressure on you or them, without any sense of panic about them dying before they convert and so on; and always remembering, especially in the face of little apparent progress, “Who loves them more?”

God bless you

Let us Rejoice in Sufferings! The Gospel of Suffering

[Romans 8:17] – “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Suffering on Earth (especially for Jesus namesake) has a direct affect on our glorification! The more suffering, the higher degree of glorification!

[Romans 5:3-10] – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

[James 1:2-4] – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

[Romans 8:18] – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

[1 Peter 4:12-19] – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/suffering

https://web.archive.org/web/20170918191811/https://www.openbible.info/topics/suffering

https://archive.is/mkyOA

The Gospel

John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Step 1. Recognize yourself as a sinner

Have you ever….

  1.      Put anything above God?
  2.      Taken the Lord’s name in vain?
  3.      Dishonored your father or mother?
  4.      Murdered someone?

[1 John 3:15] – Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

  1.      Committed adultery?

[Matthew 5:28] – But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

  1.      Stolen? No matter how small.
  2.      Lied? 
  3.      Covet your neighbor’s things?

If you are guilty of any of the above, then you are a sinner!

Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”

Step 2. Realize that your sin separates you from God

Romans 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord

Isaiah 59:2, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

Because God is a Holy God, sin stains our soul and separates us from God. God cannot allow sin to enter into heaven. In order for us to be able to enter into heaven, our sin must be paid for.

Step 3. Jesus paid the price for our sin

If we make Jesus our Lord, then he paid for your sin on the cross. All you have to do is believe that he did it for you, and that you are his treasured purchased possession. There is no work you can do to earn heaven, only faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection saves.

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

Romans 6:23, “But the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

Romans 5:6-8 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

When you become a Christ believer, your sin is put to death on the cross, and remembered by God no more.

Micah 7:19, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

If we accept what Jesus has done for us, than our sin is put to death on the cross, and we are free to enter heaven! Jesus paid the price and made us his own.

What if you don’t accept what Jesus has done for you?

Then you will pay for your own sins for all eternity, in hell.

Hebrews 10:31: It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Romans 1-20: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

How do you accept what Jesus has done for you?

Repeat this prayer, and believe it.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.”

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.”

Romans 10:9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Then what?

I encourage you to find a local bible believing Church that feels like home to you. I would encourage you to talk to the Pastor as a new believer and he should be able to guide you on the right path.

If you accepted Jesus as Lord, you’re on your way to an incredible adventure that never ends!

Don’t worry about money

[Matthew 6:33] – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

God wants our hearts, and to not have idols. In the modern western world, money is THE IDOL in the hearts of men, whether they be rich or poor, or somewhere in the middle.

I can hear people lament, “If only I had money for this or for that.” Yes, it’s nice to be not poor, but even the poor get a special blessing from God by promising the Kingdom!

[Luke 6:20] – Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Furthermore, the more wealth you acquire, the more God expects you to use it wisely and for beneficial purposes.

[Luke 24:48] NLT – But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

There were 2 rich men in the bible, one who was saved, and one who wasn’t. The one who was saved was willing to be more financially honest and not depend on his wealth, giving a great sum of it away. As an extreme example, there was the Rich Man who didn’t care about anyone but himself, and therefore earned hell.

[Luke 19:6-9] –

So Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Him joyfully. And all who saw this began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinful man!”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Yes, God doesn’t want us to worry about money! In fact, he doesn’t want us to worry about anything, at all!

[Matthew 6:25-34]

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So don’t make your goal in life serving money, saying to yourself, “How rich can I make myself!” For you cannot serve both money and God. If your blessings from God overflow, instead use that money for the poor, or a good cause, and get imperishable treasures in heaven!
Recommended book: The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn

Don’t worry about money

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-60-how-solve-worries-about-money-luke-1222-34

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith observed, “Money is a singular thing. It ranks with love as man’s greatest source of joy—and with death as his greatest source of anxiety” (Reader’s Digest [4/84], p. 93).

Most of us are prone to worry about money. If we don’t have enough, we worry about how to get it; if we have plenty, we worry about whether we really have enough and about how to hang on to what we have. Worry has been described as “a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained” (Arthur Somers Roche, in Reader’s Digest [6/88], p. 64). Worries about money can easily become that kind of deep channel.

Jesus wants His followers to be free from worries about money. He has just been speaking to the crowd about the dangers of greed and living for this world without a view to eternity. Now, He speaks to His disciples, who were perhaps feeling anxious about whether they would have enough to live on. He shows them that anxiety is opposed to trust in God, who lovingly cares for His own. He also shows that to go to the other extreme and pursue riches is at odds with seeking God’s kingdom. He is teaching us that …

To solve worries about money, we must trust in the God who cares for us and seek His kingdom above our own needs.

The world sings, “Don’t worry, be happy,” but it has no basis for such advice other than blind optimism. But the Christian can and should sing, “Don’t worry, trust God.” This is far from blind optimism, because it is based solidly on the nature and character of God and His many promises to us. Thus Jesus tells us,

1. To solve our worries about money, we must trust in the God who cares for us (12:22-28).

The old King James Version translated Jesus’ command in verse 22, “Take no thought,” which some have mistakenly taken to mean that we should not devote any mental effort or time or energy into providing for our future needs. These people would say that we should not store up any savings for the future, we should not buy insurance, we should not concern ourselves at all with money matters. Just trust God and He will provide.

But in 1611 when the King James Bible was translated, the phrase, “take no thought,” meant, “don’t worry” or be anxious. The Lord was not encouraging a lazy, who-cares attitude about money. In fact, Scripture enjoins us to pay attention to financial matters (Prov. 27:23-24). While God provides for the birds, He doesn’t plop the worms in their mouths as they sit in their nests! They have to exert some effort to obtain the worms that God has provided. So here Jesus was speaking against inordinate, consuming, distracting worry. The Greek word has the basic meaning of being divided. It is the word used when Jesus rebuked Martha, “You are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one” (Luke 10:41-42). Here, Jesus gives us four reasons why we should not worry about money:

A. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE THE CORE OF LIFE CONCERNS THE SOUL, NOT THE BODY (12:22-23).

“Life is more than food, and the body than clothing.” Jesus is saying that the key thing in life is not things. And, Jesus is not just talking about trinkets and non-essentials, but rather, about necessary food and clothing. But even these things are not the key thing in life. The key thing in life is being rightly related to God. If your soul is rightly related to God, then He will take care of your body, as Jesus goes on to point out. But if you have a well-fed and nicely clothed body, but you are alienated from God, you are missing the main thing in life.

So, in effect, Jesus is saying, “If you want to worry, worry about the most important matter in life.” Food and clothing should not be your main worry. Your eternal soul should be your main concern. If someone says, “Yes, but I’m going to starve to death,” Jesus replies, “But where will your soul spend eternity?” “But I’ll freeze to death because I don’t have proper clothing!” “Yes, but then you’ll be too hot, if you’re not rightly related to God!” Don’t worry about money, because the core of life concerns the soul, not the body.

B. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE GOD CARES FOR US MORE THAN HE CARES FOR THE RAVENS, WHOSE NEEDS HE MEETS (12:24).

This is the only New Testament reference to ravens. Some think that Jesus mentions them because they were unclean birds, so that His argument is, “If God cares for these lowest of scavengers, won’t He meet your needs?” When Jesus mentions that the ravens neither sow nor reap, nor store up their food, He does not mean that men should not labor for their food or that they should not store up necessary provisions. God’s Word clearly establishes labor as the means by which we provide for our families and ourselves. Rather, He is contrasting the lowly raven with the rich fool in the parable just before. This man was wrongly focused on storing up plenty for the future, but he stupidly ignored God. By way of contrast, the raven gets along just fine without all of the rich fool’s anxiety about the future, because God cares for the ravens.

Then Jesus uses understatement to say, “How much more valuable you are than the birds!” Human beings are the apex of God’s creation, made in His image and likeness. Is it not reasonable to assume that if God cares for the lowly raven, then He will care for people, especially for those who are His own little flock (12:32)? The next time you see a raven, think about God’s care for those birds. You’ve never seen a starving raven! Even in the barren desert, they find plenty to eat. Then, banish your worries about money as you realize that God cares far more about you than He does about ravens. You can trust Him to provide.

C. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE WORRY DOESN’T DO ANY GOOD ANYWAY (12:25-26).

Jesus points out the futility of worry. It never changes reality. If you worry, the outcome is the same as if you don’t worry. Actually, the outcome is worse because worry takes a toll on your health. But Jesus says that worrying won’t add any years to your life. Commentators are divided over whether He meant adding height to your bodily stature or years to your life. The cubit was a unit of linear measure, which supports the view that Jesus meant that you can’t grow physically by worrying about it. But, the cubit was about 18 inches, which isn’t a little thing when it comes to bodily height (12:26)! Since Jesus just talked about the rich fool whose life span was not his to determine, He probably meant here, “You can’t add any time to your life by worrying about it.”

It has been estimated that 40 percent of our worries are about things that never happen; 30 percent of our worries concern things that are past that can’t be changed; 12 percent of our worries are needless worries about our health; 10 percent are petty, miscellaneous worries; and, only 8 percent deal with legitimate issues. It’s not wrong to think about things that we can do something to change, but it is futile to consume our thoughts with matters that we can’t change. Someone has observed that we need to distinguish between problems and facts of life. Problems are matters that we can do something about. Facts of life are matters that we can’t change and so we have to live with them. But in either case, worry isn’t productive and it runs counter to faith in God.

D. WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY BECAUSE WE SHOULD TRUST IN GOD WHO CARES FOR US MORE THAN HE DOES THE FLOWERS OF THE FIELD (12:27-28).

“Lilies” probably refers to different kinds of wildflowers, not to what we think of as “lilies.” Consider the beauty and delicacy of a wildflower! Last week Marla and I hiked down to Horseshoe Mesa in the Grand Canyon. In that harsh desert environment there was a cactus with a beautiful bright reddish purple flower. It was spectacular! Not even Solomon in all his glory could match the beauty of a single wildflower! If God clothes the insignificant grass of the field with beautiful flowers, grass that was bundled up when dead and used to fuel a furnace, then shouldn’t we trust Him to provide the clothing that we need?

Jesus’ rebuke, “O men of little faith,” hits the heart of worry: our little faith in God. It is safe to say, is it not, that all worry stems from our lack of faith in God? When we worry, we are doubting that God truly cares for us. Keep in mind that Jesus here was addressing the disciples. He was talking to believers. And yet, believers who have trusted God with their eternal destiny can easily fall into a state of unbelief when it comes to the immediate problems they face, especially with regard to basic provisions. We all need to keep in mind Paul’s words, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). In other words, if God did the greatest thing in saving us, can’t we trust Him to take care of comparatively lesser matters on our behalf?

The worst thing about worry is not that it makes us miserable, although it always does. The worst thing about worry is that it dishonors our loving Heavenly Father. Suppose that you saw my kids and they had worry written all over their faces. You asked, “What’s wrong?” They responded, “We’re not sure whether our dad is going to feed us tonight.” What would that say about my love for my children? You’d probably turn me in for child abuse. My kids certainly would not be a good advertisement for any orphans who were thinking about coming to live in our home! And yet so many of the Lord’s children live as if their Father in heaven either isn’t concerned or isn’t able to take care of their needs!

Thus Jesus’ first point is that to solve our worries about money, we must trust in the God who cares for us. His second point concerns a needed shift of focus on our part:

2. To solve our worries about money, we must seek for God’s kingdom above our own needs (12:29-34).

This section falls into two parts. First Jesus tells us what we should not seek (12:29-30); then, He tells us what we should seek (12:31-34).

A. WE SHOULD STOP WORRYING ABOUT OUR BASIC NEEDS, BECAUSE TO WORRY IS TO MIMIC THE WORLD AND GOD KNOWS THAT WE NEED THESE THINGS (12:29-30).

When Jesus says not to seek after what you shall eat and drink, He does not mean that we are not to expend any effort or energy in working for a living! Rather, He means, “Don’t be all-consumed with these things. Don’t make these things your main aim in life.” He’s talking about where our primary focus should be. He commands us, “Do not keep worrying,” using a different word than in verse 22. The word here means to be lifted up and so some take it to mean, “Do not be arrogant or haughty,” in the sense of thinking that you can provide these things without God’s help. But the earliest versions of the New Testament and the context argue for the meaning, “Don’t be lifted up or tossed about, like a ship on the water.” In other words, “Don’t be unsettled and insecure; stop worrying about these things, since God will take care of you.”

Jesus says that when we’re consumed with making a living, we’re mimicking the world. The world lives in a constant frenzy of activity to get more and more. This should not be our focus.

I recently read that illustrates the world’s ways of seeking after more and more. An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said that he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play my guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then to L.A. and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

The American replied, “Fifteen to twenty years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce a stock offer, sell your company stock to the public, and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings, where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Jesus says, “Don’t seek for the same things the nations eagerly seek.” There should be a distinct difference between us and the world regarding our pursuit of material gain. While hard work is a Christian virtue, anxiety about money is not! To get caught up with the world’s attitudes toward money is to forget that we have a Father who knows that we need all these things. So, what should we seek?

B. WE SHOULD SEEK GOD’S KINGDOM AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF OUR BASIC NEEDS (12:31-34).

Jesus gives a command (v. 31a), an assurance (vv. 31a-32), an application (v. 33), and an explanation (v. 34).

         Command: Seek God’s kingdom (12:31a).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed it, “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). What does it mean in practical terms to seek God’s kingdom? Does it mean that everyone has to become a missionary or full-time Christian worker? Obviously, not! God’s kingdom is where He rules. To seek His kingdom means to put God first as Lord of everything in our lives and to aim each day at furthering His rule over us and over others. The day is soon coming when Jesus will return and rule the nations with a rod of iron. But until then, we are to live under His lordship in every area of our lives. And we are to seek to further His rightful rule over others as they come to faith in Christ and then live under His lordship.

In other words, God is not just to be a slice of life on Sundays or whenever we find Him useful to further our agendas. Rather, He is to be the center of all we think, say, and do every day. He is Lord over every facet of our lives, including our money. We live as His servants or stewards, seeking to glorify Him. That’s what it means to seek His kingdom.

         Assurance: The Father will provide for all our needs if we focus on His kingdom (12:31a-32).

“These things” refers to the things the nations seek, namely, food, clothing, and other material needs. The thought of not seeking after these things, but rather of seeking God’s kingdom, causes some anxiety, even among God’s people. Thus Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” A little flock sounds pretty vulnerable in the midst of a dog-eat-dog world. But Jesus wants us to feel assured that none other than a loving Heavenly Father is watching out for us if we are committed to seek His kingdom. The full measure of kingdom blessings awaits us in the future, but even in the difficulties of this evil world, we can trust that the Father’s abundant mercies are on us because of His gracious choice of us.

         Application: Give generously and you will have lasting treasure in heaven (12:33).

Jesus does not mean that we must literally sell everything we have and give away the proceeds. The Bible implies the right to private ownership of property in the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal.” Peter told Ananias that his property was his to do with as he saw fit (Acts 5:4). Ananias’ sin was not in holding back some of the proceeds, but in lying about giving all when he had not done so. Further, if Jesus meant that His followers must sell all their possessions, surely He would have rebuked those who owned homes, lands, etc., but He did not.

Rather, Jesus here is saying, “Have a loose grip on the things of this world, since they won’t last anyway. Instead, be generous in giving to those in need, and God will reward you with lasting riches in heaven.” The contrast is between storing up temporary treasure for yourself on earth (12:21) instead of laying up eternal treasures in heaven. If you struggle with greed and with living for this life only, give away your stuff. Giving generously frees us from greed and puts our focus on God and eternity. Verse 34 explains:

         Explanation: Your heart follows your treasure (12:34).

We usually get this backwards: we think that we will put our treasure where our hearts are. But Jesus says that if we put our treasure somewhere, our hearts will be there also. Store your treasure in heaven by giving generously to the Lord’s kingdom and your heart will be drawn to heaven. Hang on to your earthly possessions greedily and your heart will be on this earth.

I have seen this work with regard to prayer. If I give money to a missionary, it’s easier to pray for him. Why? Because my heart follows my treasure. If my treasure is with a missionary, my heart is there with him, too, and I find it easier to pray for him. So Jesus’ point is, if you want your heart in the things of God, put your treasure in the kingdom of God. It’s the only investment in this shaky world with guaranteed safety and a high rate of return.

Conclusion

Underlying the Lord’s teaching and central to a biblical concept of money is the principle of stewardship. We do not own what we have; God does! He entrusts a certain amount to each of us to use for His purposes. Some of it He graciously allows us to spend for our needs and for our enjoyment. But our main focus must be, “Lord, help me to use what You have given me to further Your kingdom.”

Stewardship frees us from worry. Once when I was in the Coast Guard, we put out a fire on Frank Sinatra’s yacht. I remember talking to the skipper and being surprised at how nonchalant he was about the great amount of damage done to the boat. He said, “It’s not my boat, it’s Mr. Sinatra’s boat.” Of course it was also insured. But he was somewhat detached from the loss because he didn’t view the boat as his own. Since then, when my car has gotten dented in a parking lot or when other things beyond my control happen to my money or possessions, I say, “Lord, it’s Your car, Your money, Your stuff.” I’m trying to be a good steward, but it doesn’t belong to me.

So Jesus is saying, “Don’t worry about money. Trust in the God who cares for you and seek His kingdom above your own needs.” The Father will be glorified and you will have unfailing treasure in heaven.

Coming back into God’s Grace

When we sin, sometimes God disciplines us by being farther away from us, letting us feel the pangs of depression and isolation as a punishment for a particular sin. We have 2 ways to respond to this (actually 3, but I don’t consider running away from God an option), 1) wait it out, or 2) run towards God. While you can wait it out and eventually you may feel better, I feel the better option is to run towards God, and he will run towards you! You can do this by a couple of ways

  1. Praising God through words or singing
  2. Reading the bible
  3. Be involved in Church related activities
  4. Connect to a Christian friend, reveal your sin to him and have him pray over you. If done with multiple friends, I found the effect is quicker, God lets go quicker and you are back into the feeling of his grace

God’s greatest gift to us is himself, the holy Spirit, and Jesus. I feel that we are either in or out of God’s grace, and personally I feel a difference. Without God’s grace, the depression runs deeper and I feel more isolated. In God’s grace, I feel the spirit of living water well within me. Of course, you can wait it out, because I believe God doesn’t hold long term grudges, but what he really wants if for you to run back toward him and repenting fully.

The good news is, God’s grace is unfathomably deep, there is plenty of it to go around for everyone.

 

 

Covered by the blood of Jesus

I had a weird dream last night. I was in a group of people being taught by an old man academics. The dream started alright (fun+weird) but slowly started to get more evil, with the old man becoming perverse. At a certain point in the dream, I turned everything around me blood red, the walls, roof, and floor. The blood of Jesus covered everything. Then the dream was exposed as being created by an evil spirit, come to harass me in my sleep. I got the reminder that “I am covered by the blood of Jesus” and fought the thing directly. I keep getting reminded that I’m “covered by the blood, covered by the blood.” Then I eventually woke up.

I think God wanted to show me I am truly covered by the blood of Jesus for all my sin, and that the power of evil will not prevail against me, and I have no reason to fear it, as I did not feel fear in my dream.

Just thought I’d share.

Building materials for heaven

The angels replied, “There are seven things one must do to build up their materials to build their home.
The first is their accumulation of worship and praise to God.
The second is their time spent reading the bible.
Third, their time spent praying.
Fourth, their time spent evangelizing to people.
Fifth, one’s offering to the Lord.
Sixth, their obedient tithes to God.
Lastly, their time spent serving the church in any way.

http://www.divinerevelations.info/documents/pastor_park/

 

I was raised in a culturally Jewish, religiously secular home. I converted due to an experience with the Holy Spirit.

It’s a little bit like trying to explain a new color, but I’ll try.

I was meeting a friend of my friend’s for the first time. The three of us were hanging out together, walking through our city, and getting to know each other. We got on the subject of religion, and my friend’s new friend asked me if I believed in God.

As I opened my mouth to say no, I became overwhelmed with the presence of the Holy Spirit. In that moment I literally felt the enveloping presence of a sentient being surrounding me and actually sharing my headspace with me for a moment as if to say, “I’m in here, you reading me?”

I was actually a pretty militant anti-theist at the time, and didn’t even believe in Jesus as a historical figure. But when this presence came over me, I was certain it was God, and it was imparting to me the truth of the gospels and that this very force had taken a lifetime in the flesh as Jesus Christ. Jesus was just simply the identity of this being.

It’s hard to describe how I was so certain of it. It was almost like information was just uploaded into me. The conclusion I’ve come to is that a created being has it within them to intuitively recognize their creator when in their presence. It really felt like a reunion with a long lost best friend than any sort of introduction.

The two things I can most closely compare it to: Falling in love. It’s very easy to say love doesn’t exist, that it’s chemical reactions, that people are acting in mutual self interest or at most reciprocal altruism. But actually falling in love is proof of love for the person doing the falling. You experience love. You become convinced of its reality because you’re experiencing everything that it is. It’s not easy to mistake love for anything but love. When I experienced God, I became convinced. I couldn’t mistake Him for anything but the creator of the Cosmos, and my creator.

The second thing is waking up from a dream. When you’re in a dream, you don’t necessarily know you’re dreaming. You may even “falsely” wake up in your dream, thinking you’re awake, but really still be dreaming. But when you finally do wake up into reality, you know on an internal level that you are truly awake. You know what reality really feels like. Waking up from a goofy dream, where flying elephants were real and no one had heard of pancakes gives you that “oh, right I’m dreaming. I’m not in narnia, of course pancakes exist, and of course flying elephants aren’t real.” You just know you’re back to reality.

When I experienced God, it was like waking up to the broader reality of the spiritual world. That feeling I described above is exactly the same. Almost remembering. “Oh, yeah, of course there’s a God. Obviously it’s Christ. I’m a created being, in a created world.” It was just intuitively obvious after experiencing it.

And just feeling God’s nature. You can tell this being is the source of all Goodness and Love. I knew God knew every little secret misdeed I’ve ever done, every single angry and bitter thought, but He still loved me thoroughly and completely and without any hint of judgment about any part of me or my past. His love felt not only like a fatherly sort of love, which it did, but simultaneously like a love you have for your best friend. A deep connection of mutual respect and genuine interest in one another. A “liking” not just “loving,” if that makes sense. And at the same time, a feeling of affection. Like a parent with a baby or even an animal lover with their favorite pet.

It was just so profound and beautiful and unlike anything I can truly describe. This all literally swept over me in the instant between I was asked if I believed in God and when I tried to respond. I ended up just stammering my way into an “I don’t know” and letting my friend start talking about religion. Then I just enjoyed the presence of God, and we actually had a little conversation.

I hope you get to experience it for yourself. I still don’t know exactly why I got to experience Him and others who are just like I was don’t get the same courtesy. But it’s the most beautiful moment of my life, to date.

I didn’t realize how happy I was to find out God existed. I thought even if one religion was right, I would be displeased with that. But the moment I knew God was so perfect and Good (and quite funny, in my experience!) I was more thrilled than I’ve ever been. I think even most Christians (who haven’t had such an experience) are going to be very surprised by just how Kind and generous God is. There is a reason people say “God is love.” We’re not just going to be worshipping at His feet for eternity. We’re going to be getting along with Him like a best friend and fulfilling our deepest joys, which we were created to fulfill.

Anyway I’m sidetracking myself. Sorry for the long windedness. I get very excited when talking about my experiences with God haha.

How I found christ

So this is a story that was told to me my parents’ friend. I heard it a couple months ago so I don’t remember all the details. Also, English is not my first language, so just look over some mistakes I might make on the way.

So about 25 years ago, he had a wife and 2 or 3 children. He worked as a watch repairman and he was a heavy smoker. Neither him nor his wife were believers. That, however, changed when his wife started praying and sometimes going to church, because she had some friends that were Christians. When he learned about this, he wasn’t happy. He told her she’s gone crazy and that she joined a cult and so on. Things escalated to much that they almost got divorced. Now, one day, however, she decided to go visit Medjugorje and she somehow talked him into going with her. He went there very sceptical, and he was looking forward to proving to his wife that this whole thing is a fraud and she should let it go. This was about 23 years ago.

Now when they arrived, he wasn’t very impressed by the state this village was in. Very small, pretty poor, middle of nowhere. But then they went to the church. There was a priest and he blessed each person in there individually. They were standing in line, and after one received his blessing, he returned to the back of the church. Now, the man didn’t want to go stand in the line. He wasn’t interested in receiving a blessing. But the church was very small and there were many people so he was just being pushed forward and he had nowhere to escape. He then decided to just stop trying to leave and just get on with it. At the moment the priest blessed him, he felt something change inside of his. He felt as happy as never before. Nonetheless, after receiving the blessing, he left with the line of leaving people. He then stood outside the church and proceeded to grab his pack of cigarettes in order to smoke one. But he suddenly relalised – he completely forgot how cigarettes tasted. He just wasn’t interested in smoking one anymore. He has never smoked since that day.

Nowadays, he and his wife are both very devouted Christians, as well as their children. (Before they became believers, his wife was pregnant, but she had interruption. This happened 3 times and years later, they regretted this very much. He prayed asking God for forgiveness when he heard a voice telling him that they should have another 3 children in order to make up for that.) He is a singer in the church and he is one of the nicest people I have ever known. Always happy, willing to help, giving advices. And a little fun thing I noticed, whenever he prays to St. Anthony to find his lost things, it always works for him. It’s really insane. He even found his stolen wallet once by actually hearing a voice in his head telling him where it is. This is a man that truly believes in God on the deepest level.

What Did Christ Mean By Saying You Must Hate Your Own Family?

What Did Christ Mean By Saying You Must Hate Your Own Family?

What Did Christ Mean By Saying You Must Hate Your Own Family?

Jesus Christ wants us who’d like to follow Him to truly understand the cost of discipleship.

There’s in fact a number of seemingly bizarre statements that Christ made during His earthly ministries that sound very unhuman and unreasonable. That’s why those who are unsaved who cannot grasp what Christ truly meant label Him as an extremist, or someone who has lost touch with reality. While these statements may not make any sense at all from a humanistic perspective because they are inconsistent with how we operate in this world; however, they do possess powerful spiritual truths hidden into them that transcend human understanding. 

Whatever statement that Christ made has a unique context and meaning, so the ideal way of getting at the bottom of a particular statement in order to get a clear insight regarding its initial meaning and context is through figuring out why, who was being addressed, what was going on at that time, and what was the pervasive mindset or system that was in place when such statement was made. So let’s read that Scripture verse found in the book of Luke where Christ declared a hatred that should be aimed at our very own family members as well as our own life if we really want to become His disciple.

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:26).

There are several ways this verse can be interpreted, but we’ll look at it through the lens of the Judaism system which was so prevalent during Christ’ ministries. To a large extent this statement has a strong connection to the Judaism system that had long been established very firmly. So people were so engulfed by it to the extent they were even willing to put to death anyone who even attempted to challenge it. That’s the key reason why Christ found Himself in a huge conflict with such system all throughout His ministries.

And Christ actually came in order to revolutionize the whole system since it was incomplete and insufficient in order to grant man favor and acceptance from God. According to the gospels’ accounts, that very system tried to kill Jesus in several different occasions due to their constant unwillingness to accept His claims about Himself.

Furthermore, it was pretty obvious that parents in this day raised their children to follow that very system. Having said that, anyone who has made a choice to follow Christ would have found himself being profoundly at odds with that system. Let’s put that within perspective, if you were living in such system with your parents and siblings, and have made a choice to give your life to Christ, your parents would have had a very tough time accepting that decision since you’re forsaking the very system you were raised to believe in.

You would have also run into serious troubles with your siblings since the new life you would have to live would literally bring a massive conviction upon them. Consequently, they would have never been comfortable with you. The truth about this passage is to enable us to understand the cost of discipleship.

What Christ Actually Meant by Declaring That You Must Hate Your Parents And Siblings.

First, this statement isn’t meant to be taken literally because Christ wasn’t really saying that you must hate your parents along with your siblings in the context of hating the person. However, what He’s saying is that you have to hate their own ways, their mindsets, their false belief systems, and their attitudes and behaviors when it comes to them becoming a major stumbling block that stands between you and Him and His cause. The way Christ wants us to see it is when it comes down to Him and us there cannot be anyone or anything right between, regardless of how dear and precious someone or something may be to us.

In fact, God has never told anybody to direct any form of hatred toward an individual in a literal manner, which means hatred must be directed toward how a person behaves. You love the person and hate their sinful and rebellious ways. In other words, you love the person but hate their sins.

There is also another vital interpretation that can be applied to that passage because the word hate according to numerous contexts it’s used in Scripture can be defined as ‘Love less’. It’s very important for us as believers to realize that Christ must always come first in our lives. We must love Him above everything else. We must value Him more highly than the very people whom we love on this earth. This is something that Christ requires of us because nobody else can ever do what He’s done for us. And no one is able to give us what He has given us.

Whomever we allow to decide how we should serve Him, whomever we allow to become an obstacle concerning us responding to His calling and purpose for our lives gets to occupy the place that He Himself should have occupied in our lives. Christ must be preeminent in everything we do since He is our Savior and Lord.

What Christ Meant by Declaring That we Must Hate Ourselves.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).

The fundamental of following Christ and living for Him alone is built on self-renunciation. This is where the concept of dying to self comes heavily into play (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5; Romans 6:11). Following Christ is no longer us trying to do things according to our own ways but His ways. Following Christ is all about us forsaking our old ways by embracing His own unique way of life. In other words, we give up everything by embracing everything He gives us.

By the way, Christ has given us a very powerful example regarding how to live a life pleasing to God by always putting His Father and His cause first. He didn’t come to make a name for Himself, to glorify Himself, and to live a life according to His own ways but to please and glorify His Father in everything He does. He lived a life based on total submission and humility to God the Father.

So the essence of the Christian life is humility and submission. That’s the kind of life that Christ wants us to live in response to what He has done for us. Hating ourselves means hating our own ways of doing things, hating our own sinfulness to the extent we want to starve it by ceasing to follow its massive impulses. Additionally, hating ourselves means laying aside our own ambitions, our own personal interests, our own mindsets, and whatever pertains to our sinful nature.

Conclusion

That hatred has to do with anything that can stand between Christ Jesus and us. Anything that can potentially become an impediment concerning us taking up our cross. Anything that can keep us from ever be whom He wants us to be in Him. Lastly, anything that can keep us from committing ourselves fully to whatever assignment He has called us to.

Christ understands that following Him isn’t an easy undertaking since His requirements defy how we want to operate as human beings in a realm in which we need relationship with our fellow human beings. Nonetheless, He’s calling us to hate, reprioritize, or abandon anything deemed precious to us, or anything sinful that we have a strong attachment to.

Even if our relationship with our loved ones as well as our friends is something that we need, but He desires for us to place Him first by valuing Him more. Why? What matters is Him, His will, His calling, and His purpose, not our relationships with our fellow human beings. Lastly, our human relationship has no eternal significance.

AgentSmithRadio reddit testimony

From: https://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity/comments/5l0qaq/my_strange_testimony/

I wasn’t planning on writing this post. It’s going to be a long one, so thank you if you decide to read it. I’ve heard stories like mine many times in the past and to be frank, I never believed them. I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me but I am compelled at the moment to write it.

It was 2006. I was in high school, agnostic and suffering from depression. I was too smart for my own good and frankly an insufferable turd. I was attending my parent’s church out of obligation. My father had recently converted and my mother began studying theology (she has her Master of Divinity now) three years prior.

On March 1, 2006, I suffered a horrible nightmare. I barely understood it at the time and it was completely foreign to my mind. At that age I was regularly having lucid dreams and I remembered my dreams very well. This one came out of left field and as stupid as it sounds, I never believed that it came from my mind. It felt like the dream lasted for days. This dream has kept me up many nights over the last decade and I have yet to forget it.

I jolted from the nightmare on its conclusion and suffered what I can only describe as a panic attack for the next two days. I had locked myself in my room and refused to have a conversation with anyone or eat. My parents thought I was sick and left me alone. My brain kept replaying the nightmare over and over, trying to understand it. It was completely foreign to me.

To summarize the dream without writing a novel (as you’ll see below), I was in Hell. It was not an image of Hell I had ever seen before. The only visions of Hell I possessed at that age were the fire and brimstone version and the black nothingness version. It felt real beyond anything I had experienced in a dream before and is the single most terrifying thing my brain has witnessed.

I became obsessed with the possibility of an afterlife and didn’t want to end up with what I had just witnessed. Over the next several years I became obsessed with theology, history, world religions, near death experiences, prophecies, anything to help me understand what I witnessed. I spent countless hours debating theology as an agnostic on various forums, attempting to find out what I believed in.

Eventually, I discovered Christ. When I was 19, I was baptized at my parent’s church (I became a member shortly after). I’ve stumbled a lot in my walk with God but he has always stuck with me.

The last two months in my relationship with God have gone incredibly well. I’ve been able to open up to him in my prayer and forgive those in my past who I never thought I could forgive. Through prayer, he helped me quit smoking, a habit I picked up from an abusive relationship I had once suffered. I had tried to quit several times before, but never did I ask for his help because I was never ready to actually quit. With his help, I finally did.

He has transformed my life and I can say with full honesty that I do not recognize who I once was a decade ago. My relationship with God is worth more than anything else I have and I imagine I will have a whole eternity to be grateful for it. I’m a good place with God right now and I look forward to the coming years.

With all of that context established, I can get to why I’m writing this. A few days ago, I was compelled to read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.

http://lucite.org/lucite/archive/fiction_-_lewis/(ebook)%20lewis,%20c.s.%20-%20the%20great%20divorce%20-%20can%20a%20loving%20god%20send%20people%20to%20hell%20-%20(perfect!)(clive,%20cs%20lewis)%20(christian%20library).pdf

I’ve seen this book mentioned many times on this subreddit and I was already familiar with C.S. Lewis’s work, primarily Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. It’s a great book and a short read. I highly recommend it. However, it leads to the point as to why I’m writing this.

I dreamed The Great Divorce in 2006.

I dreamed that I was stuck in the Hell described by C.S. Lewis. I visited various stores and I waited for the same bus. I was spoken to by a spirit of a person I once knew, trying to show me Heaven. I rejected her. I not only rejected her but I hated the spirit so much that I tried to kill her. I tried to sink a dagger I had conjured into her back before ending up back in Hell. I spent what felt like days in that Hell before waking up.

Lewis nailed down the details which I saw and experienced, down to the fight at the bus stop, the eternal evening twilight and the rain. I knew what was happening the second I started reading Chapter 2. I had seen this world and allegory before.

I’ve known God long enough to not accept most events as mere coincidences. What happened to me appears to be beyond a coincidence because what happened to me is impossible. Aside from being an unwritten character, I witnessed what C.S. Lewis wrote 60 years before. I had never seen the book before, no one had ever talked to me about it and I had never witnessed that view of theology (albeit in allegory) or Hell before.

It’s the ultimate joke. 10 years ago, God gave me the dream which drew me to him. Now he shows me that the dream that changed my life was a telling of one of C.S. Lewis’s bestselling books from another perspective.

I’ve had a few days to recover from this discovery. I’m not sure what to think about it. I’ve prayed a lot since opening the book but I’m still at a loss. What do you say or think when you’ve witnessed the seemingly impossible?

As I said at the beginning, I don’t expect anyone to believe me. I said before that I’ve rejected believing these kinds of stories before. I need help understanding what I just witnessed. I’m at a loss.

Thank you for reading.

Edit: I want to thank you all for the incredible support and insight you’ve all been offering. It’s been an interesting few days for me to say the very least. I’ll continue to make an effort to respond to every comment which comes in. You’ve all been very helpful and for that I am truly grateful.

Edit 2: /u/andmoreagain posted a short story in this thread from Philip K Dick. I may not agree with all of his conclusions but it’s eerily similar to mine. Thank you for sharing!

http://deoxy.org/pkd_how2build.htm

Why I’m coming back to Christ

  1. I feel an inevitable pull towards Christ
  2. I had a dream of Christ… it was dark and stormy and when Christ appeared.. nothing but blue skies
  3. I’ve heard voices about Christ
  4. B.W. Melvin’s work is convincing to me
  5. I do believe that God exists, in my heart
  6. They have the best music 😉

The dream also instructed me of something important, that my belief is a PERSONAL belief that comes from within, not an intellectual belief that comes from without (analyzing the seemingly godless universe).

B.W. Melvin explains his book

Postby B. W. » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:21 pm, Author of “A Land Unknown: Hell’s Dominion

http://discussions.godandscience.org/viewtopic.php?t=36546

Hi all, thank you for the review. I’ll try to answer some of your questions as best as I can. I have been on the road for the past 8 days on a ministry trip and radio interview at several Churches in South Dakota and returned late Monday night at home. Saw many come to know the Lord, amen.

In regards to the people I saw in the Pit receiving just recompense in fair degrees according to the principles found in the bible regarding reaping what one has sown, I tried to convey the truth about their eternal state. First, it is eternal and by this I mean the following…

God will not deny himself. He gave a gift from his own being to humanity, called life (Gen 2:7c). The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29c principle). The Lord placed eternity in our hearts Eccl 3:11 and Eccl 3:14 verifies. The wise woman spoke in 2 Sam 14:14c a central truth – though we die (our mortalness dies) God will not take away life; and yes, God through Christ Jesus makes the only way that a banished one can return back to God, thru the grace of the cross. There is no other way.

So, we do continue on after we die, not in soul sleep, or rest, but as the Hebrew words in the OT imply as shades – our spiritual essence of who we are continues. Though God can certainly annihilate life into non-existence as Job 34:14, 15c states but as 2 Sam 14:14 states, God will not take away life he gave. Fore, if he did so, he would in essence deny himself and prove himself a lair and not really God almighty. He would be forced to go against his own life giving character/nature – hence deny himself.

God did not annihilate the devil for his rebellion, did he? Why? God will not take away life. The devil knowing this rebelled and tempts God to unjustly destroy in order to be able to exalt his own throne above God’s. Sin entered the universe in a limited degree through the Devil and his minions and God designed the current pit of hell for them as Matt 25:41 states. God does not take away life – his gifts and callings are irrevocable. God keeps and performs his word.

Next

This brings us to the reason why fallen human beings will suffer just recompense in Hell. We were designed as eternal moral beings. Fallen humanity lost the eternal life with God and face eternal condemnation banished forever away from the eternal life of God. What God does is forever.

People complain that everlasting punishment for finite sins is unjust. However, such fail to realize that since human beings share a gift of life breathed into us by God who placed eternity in our hearts, a fallen human being’s sin is NOT FINITE it is eternal (Job 34:11, 12c) because they were fashioned by God to be eternal. For God to annihilate into non-being would in essence be unjust for HIM to do as it goes against his own character and nature (Job 34:10c).

Billy Grahams’ daughter, Anne Graham-Lotz mentioned in the History Channel TV show, Hell the Devils Domain, that in hell are just levels of recompense. Jesus stated this concept as well in Luke 10:13, 14, 15, 16c. Theologians mention this as well – just degrees of recompense. This is precisely what I saw, and what people do not understand regarding this instead dare/demand God to act contrary to who He is (Deut 32:4, Psalms 97:2). Thus, they unknowingly fall right into the devil’s ploy to demand God to act contrary to the foundations of God’s throne (note Psalms 97:2c again) and thus overturn God’s rule (Isaiah 14:13, 14, 15c). So reader, which side are you on?

There is no such thing as Finite Sins due to our spiritual nature fashioned to live eternally. Therefore. The principle of what one sows they reap mentioned throughout the bible is true. That is what I saw happening in hell to the people there: their personal sin nature was slowly being uncovered much like how you peal layers off an onion, until the real spiteful being is revealed totally committed to sin and rebellion. The slow pealing of an onion takes time and thus helps understand why there are just degrees of recompense.

People also say God is a torturer, yet, the bible clearly states God is not the one who tortures. Do you see God in the account of Richman and Lazarus in Luke 16:20-31c? Also Rev 14:11 states its one’s own torment that torments. Now note the principle found in Psalms 9:16. God’s wrath is poured out and whatever God does (regarding context of justice/life/judgment/promises/gifts) endures forever.

His wrath uncovers the real person who and what they really are, beings who after entering the eternal gain understanding of what this means, would always seek to abuse and manipulate/pit God’s own Goodness against itself so they remain in sin. That is what I saw and tried to convey in my book. Those in hell would make the only perfect upright land, Heaven, into a corrupt place, like it is on earth now just as Isaiah 26:10. So, the current hell was designed as a temporary holding center as Isaiah 24:21, 22 helps to reveal and Jesus mentions in Matt 25:41c: For the Love of God will banish those that reject him, justly and fairly, with no violation of trust, gifts, etc, to them or to God’s own nature/character.

Parts of Hell are described as a bottomless pit (Rev 20:3 KJV) or as a pit. Other parts of the current hell are also described as to be avoided at all cost (Deut 32:22. Nahum 1:2, 3, 6c, of fire and darkness and place of no rest Isaiah 48:22c).

However the current Pit of Hell is described in Ezekiel 26:20, Ezekiel 31:16, 17, 18 and Ezekiel 32:21,23, 24, 25-31 NKJV. As being round, with Hebrew word – qeber – imbedded in the pits’ walls and the Hebrew word qeber means a grave, tomb, a sepulcher, chamber, or small cell of living cognizant grief, sorrow, travail. Proverbs 7:27 speaks of chambers, rooms, enclosures in the current Hell as well to be avoided at all cost.

What is going on inside these cells/graves, tombs, chambers, is what Job 26:5-6 is conveying, “The departed spirits tremble under the waters and their inhabitants. 6 “Naked is Sheol before Him, And Abaddon has no covering” NASB

The Hebrew word tremble describes living cognizance of trembling whirling, shaking, fearing, to writhe, to grieving etc… The idea of water is the great pressure one feels when underground. For those who have toured the Hoover D-m understand the pressure one feels at the bottom and those who scuba dive understand what pressure is felt in 45 to 100 feet of water. This is being describe in the text – great pressure that is doing something.

This something is mentioned in verse 6 as being naked before God in the current Hell (sheol) because the ruin there uncovers a person’s real them. Much like pealing the union I spoke of earlier. This is done because God’s Love leaves no stone unturned in meting out the reason for banishment away from the presence of God to a person. They are made aware of their damage done in mortal life will not be tolerated in Heaven. God is not mocked.

What one sows, they reap. There is not one perfect good person on this planet. All have sinned and abandoned God’s Loving ways and tempt God, and manipulate, and try God’s goodness and love as evidenced by how we live our mortal lives. Only in this mortal life, now, we can return to God’s Love and goodness and learn how not to abuse it for our own gain. God demonstrates his goodness, love, by calling out to a fallen world in order to allow morally reasoning beings to morally reason themselves in all impartial fairness to decide to return to God who loves so much that He sent Jesus Christ to bear our sins upon the cross and expose our sins in us so we can return to a greater paradise God had planned before the foundation of the world.

God’s love let us beat and whip him, to mock him, put him on trial, spit upon him, plot against him, and crucify him. What do we do to goodness on earth? How have we in various symbolic ways beat and whip others, to mock people, put God or others on trial, spit upon, plot against, crucify in our hearts? Jesus did say, you done these to the least of these my brethren, you done so to me.

For that, Reader, you think for a moment you can waltz into heaven because God Loves without accepting His grace and changed by his great love? That is why there is a hell – it separates the wheat from the tares. From those that tear each other apart, manipulate God’s goodness, grace, and love for their own gainful entertainment, from those justly and fairly reconciled thru Christ Jesus’ work on the cross/resurrection. God will not allow sin to run amuck in heaven without end, he will contain it justly and fairly. So, reader where do you stand – wheat or as a tare?

If you wish to be restored, forgiven for how you treated God’s gift of life and grace – demonstrated by how you really are in the treatment of others. How you robbed, slain, brought ruin to the hearts of others. How such self justifying attitudes steal from your life – then you need to realize that the Lord loved you so much to offer to you an offer, an exchange. This old life of ruin for His life of reconciliation, peace, love, joy, endurance, new moxie of real eternal life from God – his Spirit blown inside you – a new birth!

Jesus said you must become born again by His Spirit to enter into heaven. If you are being honest with yourself, now, you know, you do not deserve heaven for you own life testifies against you in your treatment of love and goodness for own self gain in this life. Whom have you mentally crucified, put on trial, mocked, spat upon?

God does not desire that to continue in heaven. He desires you to be saved – reconciled willingly through your choice not his force as He is that Just. If that is you, Reader, all I can do is to get you started on your way by praying a simple heartfelt prayer and from it, you add to it. Then I pray that the Lord will lead you to a good bible based group near you and constantly renewed in your spirit – new life. So please begin by praying:

God, dear Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, have mercy upon me a sinner, forgive, make me Born again by your Holy Spirit. Place me into the Father’s kingdom, Place me into your care, place me in empowerment to Love by your Holy Spirit! Hold me now, forgive me…

…my ugly ways I have inside…and outside…I have done…

…have mercy upon me a sinner…I have acted…

…lead me a guide me forever toward you, never let me go…

…If I stray, give me a good swift kick to return me to your way… Amen…


Biblical Slavery Explained

Edit: Reddit discussion:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity/comments/4egph6/question_about_biblical_slavery/

From user jmj1970

 

Nowhere in Scripture does God establish the institution of Slavery. While we do not know why God did not simply ban slavery, nowhere in Scripture does it condone slavery. Scripture only regulates it, to prevent abuse, and there were severe punishments for those who violated them. Even a cursory study of Wilberforce, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown will bring forth their extraordinary job of making the argument that Scripture does not condone slavery. It is precisely because of these arguments that throughout the Christian world slavery is thought of as a great evil.

There have been and still are individual Christians who support all forms of slavery. Likewise, there are Christians who support abortion on demand and don’t believe homosexual acts are sinful. Such sinful positions are indeed a problem. Whether individual people supported slavery is a separate issue from whether or not Christianity does. To answer the question of whether Christianity does, we must look to scripture and scripture alone. And again, there is no support for the institution of slavery in scripture.

We live in a sinful and broken world. Slavery was a human institution born of sin. What God provided to the OT Jews in Scripture are regulations for how that institution was to be governed to prevent abuse. For example, should an Israelite own a foreign slave, they were considered as part of their extended family. What did this mean? They were not to work on the Sabbath, but could go about their business as any regular citizen. There were severe laws against sexual abuse of female slaves. There were severe punishments if slaves were abused and, if any abuse took place, the slave must be set free.

Modern slavery denied the justice and rights the Bible teaches should be practiced in the institution of slavery. Modern slaves were kidnapped, brutalized, and treated like cattle solely because of the color of their skin. The Bible never teaches the superiority of one person over another by divine right. Rather, the Bible teaches we should “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31, ESV) and that “there is neither slave nor free” (Gal 3:28, ESV). To defend the modern idea of slavery is to declare what is sin is not sin and that is something Christianity will not do.

Modern slavery and biblical slavery are completely different and cannot be rightly compared, save for one detail. They were both human institutions born of sin.

Where most people become confused over what Christianity teaches on this topic is that sound Christian doctrine teaches us to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Rom 13:1, ESV) and that “each one should remain in the condition in which he was called” (1 Cor 7:20-21). This doctrine does not distinguish between between a modern slave or a regular citizen. When these words were written, it was Nero who ruled the roman empire and was savagely persecuting Christians.

You may be interested in listening to this podcast segment which will go into further details:

the application of Old Testament laws

The discussion specifically on slavery starts at the 45 minute mark, but I would encourage listening to the whole thing.

Furthermore, one of the main points in this commentary concerns slavery and contains some useful, scripturally based, details:

Can Gays And Christians Coexist In America? Part II

From https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110718090516AARYpst

If this is an honest question, here is a real answer:
It’s easy confuse Old Testament Slavery with Western Slavery. If you think that God was O.K. with this sort of slavery, check out this verse only a few verses earlier.

“He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)

Western style slavery was a capital offense as was rape and pre-meditated murder. God commanded his people repeatedly to protect and defend and care for the foreigners in their land.

Exodus 22:21:
You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
(The very next chapter even requires people to leave their own crops for foreigners to be sure they would not starve.)

A “slave” in that day was a person who had incurred an un-payable debt to another and had sold himself into that person’s employment. (Thus the phrase: “He is his money”) Even this was limited by God. Once in every generation, debts were totally and completely cancelled, no matter how great the debt, and people were returned to their own property. Check out Leviticus 25 and 27.

After Jesus, slavery was still a cultural issue and Paul spoke to this issue this way:
Ephesians 6:9
And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

The ideal in scripture actually goes like this:
Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

It was this Christian ideal, in fact, that broke England of its slave trade as well as early America!

By the way, God doesn’t hate black people. In Biblical culture, Africa and Etheopia were seen as beautiful and intriguing cultures. Moses married a black Woman, possibly Joshua as well. The famous and intriguing Queen of Sheba was black, and the Song of Solomon was a romantic (even erotic) poem probably written to and from a black woman. There was also a black prophet in Acts.

From: http://www.revelation.co/2013/06/09/bible-says-its-okay-to-beat-your-slave-as-long-as-they-dont-die-exodus-2120-21/

Does the Bible say it is okay to beat your slave, as long as they don’t die? How could a loving God allow slavery, and not only slavery, but to beat your slaves with no punishment?

This is a fantastic question. If there was ever a Bible verse taken out of context, it would have to be the verse in Exodus 21 regarding the beating of a slave. I think this has to be the skeptics’ favorite verse in all of the Bible to mock and try to point the finger at God and say, “Aha, you are evil and here is the proof.” In fact, I’d almost guarantee that this verse would show up on nearly every atheist or skeptic website.

But does the argument hold water? Does the Bible really support the beating of a slave? Would God have His children, the Israelites, mistreat an innocent slave in such a cruel way? Let’s see what God’s word says.

Does the Bible Support Slavery?

First, the Bible does record instances of slavery, but not in the cruel way in which we think of today. In today’s age, the idea of slavery conjures up images of a black man with whip marks on his back and bleeding blisters on his hands, working tirelessly day and night to please his ruthless white “master.” This is not the idea of slavery according to the scriptures. In the scriptures, slavery was not based on skin color. A Hebrew could even become a slave of a fellow Hebrew (Exodus 21:2).

Instead, slavery was more like a form of indentured servitude, or like a live-in maid or butler. Some compare it to a social class, and with good reason: A person who was financially broke could become a “slave” for a set period of time, and work to pay off debt, or to have guaranteed housing and care. This was actually a good thing, and it did wonders to keep the “homeless” population  under control. If you were broke, no problem–just go be a servant for a while.

Furthermore, slaves usually had a set limit of time they served. In Exodus 21, Hebrew slaves could work no longer than 6 years, and after that, had to be released from their contract for nothing. Some people actually became slaves forever (by choice), simply because they would have bonded with their “master,” and would have preferred to stay with them. They didn’t want to be freed in some cases. In the following passage, the Bible gives instructions for such a case:

But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go free.’ …

Exodus 21:5 (emphasis mine)

Surely this verse proves that slavery was not an evil activity like how we think of the brutal slavery of African Americans in the United States. Rather, this type of slavery was different.  They worked for you in exchange for bread, a roof, and the payments of their debts. They could walk away after 6 years if they wanted, but many probably stayed on as  hired hands.

The Bible also certainly instructed masters on how to behave in a Godly manner many times in the scripture. Here is just one:

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Colossians 4:1

So it becomes clear that slavery in the Bible was not meant to be some cruel activity. Some liked it so much, they chose to stay with their “masters.” They had it good enough to love it and stay by choice. Furthermore, some even shared in an inheritance when their owner’s passed away. That says a lot about the culture of the time.

I’m not going to go into more detail at this time on everything the Bible has to say about slavery (I’ll save that for another article), but rather, let me shift my attention to a specific verse in Exodus regarding beating a slave that is controversial.

Does the Bible Say Beating a Slave Is Okay?

The following verse about beating a slave is found in Exodus:

When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

Exodus 21:20-21

God Is Not Condoning Mistreating People, or Beating People

At first glance, it would appear as if God is condoning the beating of the slave, but let’s read this carefully.

First, we see that this verse in no way CONDONES beating a slave. God doesn’t command the Israelites to beat their slaves, and God surely doesn’t want anyone to be harsh or mistreat slaves. That’s not what the verse says at all, so pay close attention. I’ve already posted one verse above, but I’ll post a couple more to give you the sense of how God feels about it:

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Colossians 4:1

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Ephesians 6:9

The verses above, taken from the New Testament, show us how God expects those with slaves under their care to act. They are to be fair and treat them right, and not be harsh with them. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Next, we must also remember that this very law came after God delivered the Israelites from harsh slavery. Here is what God had to say about that:

And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Exodus 3:9-10 (emphasis mine)

You shall not wrong a sojourner, or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 22:21

God is so against the oppressive form of slavery, that He delivered the Israelites from it in Egypt. In Egypt, the Israelites toiled long and hard, usually 7 days a week making bricks and completing Egyptian hard labor. Needless to say, God is against abusing people–slave or free. And I’d have to post almost the entire Bible to show even more of how God wants us to treat people: “Love they enemy,” “Do good to those who persecute you,” etc.

The verse nowhere approves of hitting people or abusing them, but rather, the ENTIRE Bible is consistent on how we should treat people. Any skeptic who tries to isolate this verse to “prove” that God condones beating a slave just reveals their own sheer desperation. The Israelites who had slaves would have known God’s holy laws, and they knew better than to mistreat people.

God Is Instructing What Penalties Should Take Place After the Fact

What is really going on in this chapter is that God is giving penalties based on certain crimes. God isn’t saying whether or not the action is moral–it’s already understood that it is not. From the context of the chapter, it’s clear these are all immoral activities (striking your parents, killing people, etc.).

So don’t get confused and think God accepts beating your slave. This section is not making statements as to the moral nature of the crime, but rather, what the punishment should be for such a crime. It is similar to our laws of today, where we may have law books that state the punishment for various crimes (ie, domestic abuse is XX days in prison and a XX fine; or murder in the 1st degree is death penalty).

So what happens if a master hits a slave, and he dies? Or what if he is injured, and doesn’t die? The law addressed the penalty in this verse:

When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

Exodus 21:20-21

In other words, if a master was to get in an argument or mistreat his slave by striking him, and the slave died, he must be put to death. If the slave survived a day or two, he would not.

Why Would the Master Not Be Put To Death If the Slave Survived?

If the slave died, the master would be put to death, but not if the slave survived (or, at least for a few days). Why? First, if the slave survived, it shows the master’s intent was not to kill or seriously harm the slave. Maybe they just got into a physical argument. Or maybe the master had to defend himself. Either way, it was a simple case of domestic violence, not pre-meditated murder. There is a big difference between those two.

Next, the Bible clears up the meaning when it says this, “he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.” What does that mean? That slaves are cheap property and worthless? No, not at all. The Bible makes clear that we are all of tremendous value to God our Father, whether we are lowly slaves or wealthy kings:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

-Galations 3:28

In fact, God delights in using those who are poor, weak, and so forth. He loves all of His children.

The text isn’t saying slaves are worthless property. What the text is saying is this: He was under contract to the master (his “employer”), and as such, had a financial obligation to him. Therefore, the master will owe nothing.

Here’s a way to illustrate it in more modern times to help you understand. Let’s suppose someone owes me a business debt of $200,000. They can’t pay, and I offer that they can work for me exclusively (ie, be my slave under contract), and live with me and tend to my property. At the end of 6 years, they are free to leave and do what they want. Their debt will be paid at that time. They agree.

Well, one day, the worker I  hired (“the slave”), gets into a fight with me. I reach over and whack him over the head with a baseball bat in the heat of the argument. If he died, I’d be put to death for murder. But let’s say he lives. So he goes to the hospital, but he survives. Then, we must appear in court over the incident.

In court, the judge looks at his medical bills, pain, and his suffering. The judge then orders that I pay $200,000 to cover such expenses (“the penalty”). I then point out that I had purchased his labor for this very price (in the form of indentured servitude labor). So the judge says, okay, you pay nothing then.  You should pay him $200,000, but since the slave owes you money ($200,000, your compensation for that debt), you don’t owe anything. It’s a wash.

Other Details to Keep In Mind About This Verse

As I said before, this verse is merely laying out punishments for crimes. It isn’t saying the crime is okay, but just stipulating the punishments if they happen. You have to keep in mind that the Israelites had just been freed from Egypt. They were wandering around in the desert on their journey to the promised land. They had no fancy prisons. They had no electric chairs. They had no autopsy reports to go by. They didn’t even have water on most days.

So if someone did something wrong, they had 3 options: They could be fined and have to pay financial compensation to the injured party, they could be flogged by the “courts” for a wrong (which was sometimes used), or they could be killed (death penalty). Those were basically their only options. In this text, a master would be killed for pre-meditated murder of his servant, but he would not be killed if he or she survived. In this case, the master would not have to pay compensation, since the servant already had a debt owed to the master. The debts would “cancel one another” so to speak.

Now, the text makes no mention of what else may happen. Why? Obviously, the judges in Israel would have to identify the details of each unique instance that something like this occurred. The law itself was a general guide to go by. They still had the freedom of judging each case individually.

I’m sure if there was a case of brutal beatings of a slave, that slave would have the option of leaving. The text doesn’t go into any further detail at this point, but look what the Bible says just a few verses later:

When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.

Exodus 21:26-27

So now we can see that God does not tolerate abuse towards a slave, and even lets them free over a tooth or eye injury. This verse should clear up any doubt as to how the judges over Israel would have handled the situation. Slaves were NOT to be beaten, mistreated, or killed.

Conclusion: The Bible Does Not Condone Abusive Slavery

Given the above scriptures and points, this entire article can be summarized below:

  • While the Bible did support slavery, it was not cruel or brutal slavery we know of today. God’s word instructs, time and time again, on the fair treatment of slaves, being kind to people, loving your enemy, and more. You’d have to be ignorant to argue that God condones beating or mistreating people in a cruel way. In fact, God led Moses to free the Israelites because they were being mistreated as slaves!
  • Slaves had rights, were allowed to leave after 6 years, and many of them even loved their masters, and preferred to stay with them. This is the culture you should keep in mind. It isn’t much different than working for a wonderful family as a live-in maid or servant in today’s time. Many slaves ended up more prosperous than non-slaves.
  • The Bible NEVER condones beating a slave, hitting a slave, and never suggests to treat them in a cruel way. The verse in question is dealing with the penalty of such activity, not condoning it or making moral statements about it. Much like how we have laws against rape, domestic violence, and the penalties for such crimes. The chapter itself implies that the activity is wrong within its own context.
  • The penalty for beating a slave was death if the slave died. If the slave survived, then there was no penalty, simply because the financial debts basically cancelled each other out.

There you have it. Once again, God’s holy word stands rock solid against the lies and manipulations of skeptics. Please don’t ever forget what I am about to say: There are 2 types of skeptics: Honest ones and dishonest one.

An honest skeptic isn’t sure, but is willing to objectively investigate a matter. When given a logical or rational reasoning, he or she accepts it. A dishonest skeptic doesn’t want to know the truth. He doesn’t want to read an answer, except maybe to mock and scoff some more.

Sadly, far too many dishonest skeptics exist. Many have toiled away for hours and hours building websites to try to mock and blaspheme a Holy God. They hate God. Their point isn’t to find the truth of the matter, but to get as many jabs in on Christianity as they can.

I hope this article has helped you to understand that God’s word can be trusted. I take God’s word by faith to be literally true from cover to cover. It is rock-solid, and has stood the most intense scrutiny over time.

Amen. Praise God.

Additionally, in the New Testament Jesus makes it abundantly clear the worth or a human being.

Matthew 22:37-40

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

I’m pretty sure Jesus, who was God in flesh, would not condone Western slavery of beating of slaves.

Finally: http://choosinghats.org/2012/03/atheist-andrews-misreading-of-exodus-2120-21-on-beating-slaves/

Rather than addressing some difficult questions posed to him by Rhology, Andrew jumps immediately into a passage that is typically touted by Internet atheists who want to pretend as though they know the Bible better than most believers by virtue of their having read, say, the Skeptics Bible or visited Evil Bible. Now let’s address Andrew’s misreading of the text.

20 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.”
Ex 21:20-21 (ESV)

Concerning this passage Andrew writes, “It clearly says you can beat your slave to death.” But it does not. The text does not condone the beating of the slave at all. Rather, the text is describing what the punishment is *for* beating one’s slave to death. That is, the text actually *condemns* beating a slave to death. In the one case, the slave owner is punished by being put to death. In the other case, which is an unintentional death by beating, the slave owner is punished in terms of his own financial loss from having beaten his slave to death. The implication is that he did not intend to kill his slave, but was still wrong in beating the slave. Otherwise there would be no mention of punishment in either case. But as it is, there is a punishment in both cases here for beating a slave to death. In the first case of intentionally beating a slave to death, the slave owner is likewise to be put to death. In the second case of unintentionally beating a slave to death, the slave owner’s own foolish financial loss serves as his punishment.

Perhaps Andrew should try studying the text next time on his own (not an atheist site that references the text), or reading some commentaries, and he won’t make such silly mistakes, reading the text the exact *opposite* way from which it is to be read.

Finally: https://answeringsceptics.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/answering-leviticus-25-44-46-the-bible-condones-slavery/

Muslims quote the following:

“However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” (Leviticus 25:44-46)

This passage, they say, proves that slavery is condoned by the Bible.

I can write pages of articles on this but let’s just give them a brief answer.

Before answering this objection, I’m going to quote two verses; one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament and immediately it will be apparent that this claim is flawed:

From the Old Testament:

Whoever kidnaps someone, either to sell him or to keep him as a slave is to be put to death.”  – Exodus 21:16

From the New Testament:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28

Do these two verses sound like condoning slavery?

Now, let’s answer to this claim.

Israel was prohibited from territorial gains beyond what Yahweh had promised to Abraham (Deuteronomy 2:1-23). Moreover, Israel was prohibited the practice of “forced slavery” as seen in Exodus 21:16, Whoever kidnaps someone, either to sell himor to keep him as a slave, is to be put to death.”

In another passage Moses declares, “If any of you kidnap Israelites and make them your slaves or sell them into slavery, you are to be put to death. In this way your nation will get rid of this evil”Deuteronomy 24:7. In the first one, there is a general prohibition against slavery of anyone and in the second, a specific order against slavery of Israelites.

Voluntary slavery is a completely different situation.Voluntary slavery arises when a person becomes so poor that they cannot make a living, cannot provide for themselves, and sell themselves into a relationship with a person who has money and can provide for the poor person. The Hebrew word for this is “ebed.” meaning servant, or bondman. The Bible describes Israel as the Lord’s bondservant, or slave, the same word ebed.

Muslims have distorted these verses out of context but we will look at the whole context. They quote Leviticus 25:44-46, but let’s quote it from verse 39-40:

“If any Israelites living near you become SO POOR that THEY SELL THEMSELVES to you as a slave, you shall not make them do the work of a slave. They shall stay with you as hired workers and serve you until the next Year of Restoration.”  – Leviticus 25:39-40

The issue of poverty was one of the reasons that people sold themselves as servants. There were also provisions for freedom. They could be bought back by a relative, or by their own money. Working for someone else did not mean that they received nothing. “By their own money” (v. 49) meant a certain freedom to gain money and buy their own freedom.

We have no reason to believe that the same was not true for the foreigners in the land. The verse says, “Purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land,” (Leviticus 25:44) and these were probably people like the Hebrews who fell on hard times and were poor. Being a servant in another household was better than starving. The rights are spelled out for the Hebrews but they would also apply to the foreigners who were welcomed into the land. The people were commanded:Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner; remember that you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not mistreat any widow or orphan.”Exodus 22:21-22

“Suppose a foreigner living with you becomes rich, whilesome Israelites become poor and SELL THEMSELVES AS SLAVES to that foreigner or to a member of that foreigner’s family. After they are sold, they still have the right to be bought back. A brother or an uncle or a cousin or another close relative may buy them back; or if they themselves earn enough,they may buy their own freedom. They must consult the one who bought them, and they must count the years from the time they sold themselves until the next Year of Restoration and must set the price for their release on the basis of the wages paid hired workers. They must refund a part of the purchase price according to the number of years left, as if they had been hired on an annual basis. Their master must not treat them harshly. If they are not set free in any of these ways, they and their children must be set free in the next Year of Restoration. Israelites cannot be permanent slaves, because the people of Israel are the LORD’s slaves. He brought them out of Egypt; he is the LORD their God.Leviticus 25:47-55

The central issue here is that slavery was initiated BY the slave, NOT by the owners, DEFINITELY not by force.The passage about inheritance needs some caveats:

First, the verses say “you may” pass them on to your children, not that it was automatic, necessary, expected, or standard practice. It may be that the prosperity changes could have reduced the owner’s ability to support the slave.

Second, this may well refer to servants who did not want to go free as expressed in Exodus 21:5, “But if the slave declares that he loves his master, his wife, and his children and does not want to be set free,” there was a ceremony at the place of worship for declaring him to be a slave for life. There is a similar procedure described in Deuteronomy 15:16 in which a person could become a slave for life because “he may love you and your family and be content to stay.”

Third, given the fact that slaves could earn money, they could buy their own freedom: “if they themselves earn enough, they may buy their own freedom.” – Leviticus 25:49

Conclusion

As we see, the so called “biblical slavery” isn’t the kind of slavery we all aware of. The Bible condemns “forced slavery” (Exodus 21:16), but condones “voluntary slavery” for a period of time because of poverty, unless the slaves do not want to be freed (Exodus 21:5).

It’s ironic how Muslims try to attack the Bible, without realizing, in so doing, they condemn their own Allah and Muhammad. Muhammad had slaves and the Qur’an condones slavery (Qur’an 4:24).

I call all Muslims to Christ today and stop fighting against the truth because that’s one thing we can never win against. Follow this link and receive your salvation today.

Finally:

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1587

Through the millennia, some of the worst atrocities perpetrated on humans have been linked to the institution of slavery. Historically, slavery has not designated one particular ethnic group as its singular victim. The Hebrews were slaves to the Egyptians during the days of Moses. During the reign of King David, the Moabites were subjected to slavery (2 Samuel 8:2). Alexander the Great forced almost the entire inhabited world to cower and serve him. Truth be told, practically every nationality of people that exists today could point to a time in its past history when it fell victim to slavery. Hitting closer to home, the pages of history dealing with the formative years of the United States are despoiled with gruesome stories of ships carrying slaves sold to the Americas by their fellow Africans (and others, e.g., Arabians). These slaves frequently were packed so densely in lower ship decks that many of them died of disease or malnutrition. Those who lived to see the States soon learned that their fate hinged upon those who purchased them. Some slaves were ushered into homes with kind masters, decent living facilities, good food, and freedom to worship. Other slaves were purchased by cruel, greedy people who overworked them, abused them, underfed them, and allowed them no freedom.

Friction soon arose between those who wanted to maintain slavery, and those who wanted to outlaw the practice as inhumane and unjust. It can be argued convincingly that the American Civil War was fought primarily over this very issue. Politicians raged on both sides of the matter. Interestingly, so did religious people. Abolitionists, as well as pro-slavery advocates, went to the Bible to marshal arguments for their particular view. Abolitionists armed themselves with verses such as: “Therefore whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12); or “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you all are one man in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Religious pro-slavery activists fired impressive scriptural guns by quoting passages such as: “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh” (1 Peter 2:18); and “Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of your heart, as to Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). Can we determine with accuracy what the Bible really says on the topic of slavery? Does the Bible condemn it as a social injustice? Does the Bible condone the practice? And how does the Bible’s position on slavery mesh with the idea of a loving God?

For years, skeptics have railed against the written Word, insisting that its pro-slavery tendencies should alert any reader who has a scrap of common sense to the idea that an all-loving God could not have inspired such atrocious material. Morton Smith and R. Joseph Hoffman, in a book titled What the Bible Really Says, commented:

[T]here is no reasonable doubt that the New Testament, like the Old, not only tolerated chattel slavery (the form prevalent in the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s time) but helped to perpetuate it by making the slaves’ obedience to their masters a religious duty. This biblical morality was one of the great handicaps that the emancipation movement in the United States had to overcome. The opponents of abolition had clear biblical evidence on their side when they argued (1989, pp. 145-146, parenthetical item in orig.).

Following a similar line of thinking, Ruth Green wrote that “it was the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that were the authority for keeping humanity in serfdom for centuries and for legitimizing slavery in America, making a bloody civil war necessary to give slaves human rights under our Constitution” (1979, p. 351).

Has the Bible been responsible for the oppression of slaves in the past? No, it has not. In fact, an in-depth look into the biblical account that reveals God’s attitude toward slavery shows just the opposite.

SLAVERY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

In Matthew 19:3-10, the Pharisees came to Jesus, attempting to trap Him with questions about the Old Law. They asked: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Jesus informed them that divorce was not in God’s plan from the beginning. Thinking they had trapped Him, they inquired: “Why, then, did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and to put her away?” If it was in the Old Law, they suggested, then it must be God’s ideal will. But Jesus’ answer quickly stopped that line of thinking. He responded:

Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.

Jesus’ point was crystal clear—some things permitted in the Old Testament did not necessarily represent the ideal. Due to the hardness of ancient Israel’s heart, God tolerated (and regulated) some things under the Old Law that He did not endorse. As He did so, however, He progressively revealed His divine will to mankind, clarifying that will more fully through Christ.

Many of the injunctions found in the Old Testament pertaining to slavery fall into the category of regulating something that was “less than ideal.” Even in the Old Testament, God desired that all people love their neighbors as themselves (Leviticus 19:18). Yet, in a time when God used the children of Israel as His arm of justice to punish evildoers, certain questions arose. What was to be done, for example, with the survivors of those wicked nations? What was to be done with a man who was so far in debt that he could not repay his lender? These issues, and others like them, necessitated that God institute some form of humane regulations for “slavery.”

Often, those who attack the Bible skirt the real crux of the slavery issue. They point to verses in the Old Testament that offer a particular regulation for slavery. From there, they proceed to argue that the Bible is a vile book that does not condemn, but actually condones slavery. And, they argue, since all slavery is morally wrong, the Bible must not be the product of a loving God.

However, those who take such a position fail to consider that certain types of slavery are not morally wrong. For instance, when a man is convicted of murder, he often is sentenced to life in prison. During his life sentence, he is forced by the State to do (or not do) certain things. He is justly confined to a small living space, and his freedoms are revoked. Sometimes, he is compelled by the State to work long hours, for which he does not receive even minimum wage. Would it be justifiable to label such a loss of freedom as a type of slavery? Yes, it would. However, is his loss of freedom a morally permissible situation? Certainly. He has become a slave of the State because he violated certain laws that were designed to ensure the liberty of his fellow citizen, whom he murdered. Therefore, one fact that must be conceded by anyone dealing with the Bible and its position on slavery is the fact that, under some conditions, slavery is not necessarily a morally deplorable institution.

Taking that into account, we also must ask: Who has the right to determine when slavery can be imposed on a certain person or group of people? The answer, of course, is God. In the Old Testament, immoral nations who practiced unspeakable evils surrounded the Hebrews. In order to rid the world of their destructive influence, the children of Israel dealt with them in several ways. One of those ways included forcing the wicked nations into slavery. Many of the slave regulations in the Old Testament deal with the treatment of individuals and nations who had committed crimes against humanity that were worthy of death. The wicked people were graciously allowed to live, but they were subjected to slavery, much like a lifetime prison sentence in modern criminal cases. Let us look more closely at this situation. In Leviticus 18:21,24 we read that the Lord told Moses to instruct the Israelites as follows:

And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech…. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.

In order to understand this scenario, it is important that we understand what the phrase, “pass through the fire to Molech,” means in verse 21. In brief, it means that the nations around the Israelites were burning their own children as human sacrifices to a pagan god named Molech (for further information on Molech and this practice, see Harrison, 1988, 3:401). Fitting this into our discussion, would it be morally permissible for God to allow a government (e.g., the Israelites) to punish those people who were viciously murdering their own children? We must answer in the affirmative. What punishment would be appropriate for a person who had committed such heinous crimes as to murder his or her own innocent children? The answer to that question rages even in our own society today when instances of child homicide arrive before the courts of our land. Legitimate answers often include the death penalty, or a life in prison in which many freedoms are revoked.

As additional evidence along these lines, in Exodus 22:1-3, the Bible discusses a situation in which a man was caught in the act of thievery. The thief was instructed to restore what he stole, returning four sheep, and five oxen, for every one stolen. The text further states: “He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft” (vs. 3). Being sold into slavery was often a government-regulated punishment based on a criminal action. One can see, then, that it is morally permissible to revoke the freedoms of certain people or groups of people based on their inappropriate conduct.

Accordingly, many of the slavery regulations in the Old Testament pertained to people who deserved far worse. Dan Vander Lugt commented:

Old Testament laws regulating slavery are troublesome by modern standards, but in their historical context they provided a degree of social recognition and legal protection to slaves that was advanced for its time (Exodus 21:20-27; Leviticus 25:44-46). We must keep in mind that on occasion it was an alternative to the massacre of enemy populations in wartime and the starvation of the poor during famine (2001, p. 1).

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Frequently, “slavery” in Bible times was much more of an employer/employee relationship than an owner/slave situation. Even the words used to delineate between a hired servant and a slave are difficult to separate. As Herbert Lockyer noted:

In the ancient world, service and slavery were closely related, so much so that one can scarcely distinguish the one from the other. The original words used for “servants” and “service” carry a variety of meanings between which it is not always easy to determine what is meant (1969, p. 197).

Arndt and Gingrich documented that the Greek word doulos meant “slave,” but that it also was used “in a wider sense” to denote “any kind of dependence.” In 2 Corinthians 4:5, the apostles are called the douloi (plural of doulos) of the Christians. Christ took on the form of a doulos, as stated in Philippians 2:7. Paul designates himself as a doulos of Christ in Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Galatians 1:10, and numerous other passages (1967, pp. 205-206). The term can describe a person who is obligated in some way, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, to another person. Due to this broad use, various translations have employed a wide range of words to render the meaning of doulos in English. Using Romans 1:1 as a case in point, the NKJV has “bondservant,” the New Living Translation has “slave,” the KJV and ASVhave “servant,” and the Darby Bible has “bondman.”

The Hebrew word ebed is similar to the Greek doulos, in that it can be translated as “slave” or “servant.” In Exodus 4:10, Moses referred to himself as the “servant” (ebed) of God. Abraham called himself the ebed of the angels who came to visit him in Genesis 18:3. In Genesis 39:17-19, Potiphar’s wife described Joseph as the Hebrew ebed, and Genesis 24:2 talks about the eldest ebed in Abraham’s house, who “ruled over all he had.”

The purpose of including this brief description of the two most common terms for a slave is to show that our modern use of the word slave generally evokes mental images of cruelty, injustice, and bondage against a person’s will. While such ideas could be included in the biblical usage, they do not necessarily fit every time the words are used. Instead, the picture that we often see when the biblical words for “slave” are employed is a mutually beneficial arrangement similar to an employer/employee relationship. Job describes this relationship quite well:

If I have despised the cause of my manservant (ebed) or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? And when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb (Job 31:13-15)?

Obviously, Job’s dealings with his slaves provided a mutually acceptable situation for master as well as slave.

To illustrate further the true nature of much Old Testament slavery, Abraham’s relationship with his slave Eliezer should be examined. In Genesis 15:2-3, Abraham lamented the fact that he was childless. In his dialogue with God, he stated that the heir of his wealth was Eliezer of Damascus. In verse three of chapter 15, Abraham described Eliezer as “one born in my house.” Later, in Genesis 24:2, Abraham’s oldest servant (probably Eliezer) “ruled over all that he had.” Add to this the fact that Abraham armed 318 trained servants (Hebrew ebed) to bring back Lot after he had been captured (Genesis 14:14-15). If the slave/owner relationship was anything less than mutually trusting, Abraham most likely would not have intentionally armed his slaves.

Due to the mutually beneficial nature of much Old Testament slavery, some slaves did not even want to leave their masters. Deuteronomy 15:16-17 deals with that very situation:

And if it happens that he [a slave—KB] says to you, “I will not go away from you,” because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your maidservant you shall do likewise.

Do the actions and words of Abraham’s slaves, or those found in Deuteronomy 15, seem like the actions and words of tyrannized, oppressed people? Hardly. Rather, they seem more like the words and actions of people enjoying a mutually beneficial and consensual relationship.

Even during New Testament times, slavery often provided a mutually beneficial relationship to both owner and slave. As Paul Copan remarked:

During Paul’s time, the master-slave relationship provided sufficient benefits and opportunities, such that it dampened any thoughts of revolutionary behavior. One freed slave had inscribed on his tombstone: “Slavery was never unkind to me….” More often than not, it was the free workers rather than slaves who were abused by foremen and bosses. (After all, an owner stood to have an ongoing loss if he abused his slave.) [2001, p. 172, parenthetical item and emp. in orig.].

But suppose a master did abuse his slaves in Old Testament times, and those slaves decided to run away. In Deuteronomy 23:15-16, God made it unlawful for runaway slaves to be returned to their masters. The text states:

You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him.

This passage is particularly revealing because it shows how costly cruelty to slaves was. It also shows that slaves had the freedom to choose where, and with whom, they wanted to live. Wright noted that this passage proves that

[s]lavery as such is not protected or rendered sacrosanct under Israelite law. At the very least it can be said that such a law probably presumes that runaway slaves will be the exception, not the rule. This lends further weight to the view that normally slavery in Israel was not oppressively harsh. It would certainly not have been, if the spirit of the slavery laws of Exodus and Deuteronomy were put into practice (1983, pp. 181-182).

Add to this the fact that kidnapping a man and selling him as a slave was a crime punishable by death, as noted in Exodus 21:16: “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” Certainly, any parallel to slavery in early America can be easily refuted.

Also note that the slavery regulated in the Bible had absolutely nothing to do with race, color, or ethnic background. While it is true that certain nations, as a whole, were captured and enslaved because of their wicked, idolatrous practices, it is not true that they were enslaved due to their allegedly inferior nationality. Leviticus 19:34 states: “But the stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 24:14 reads: “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren, or one of the aliens who is in your land within thy gates.” And, although certain regulations applied only to Hebrews who found themselves enslaved (Deuteronomy 15:12-14; Exodus 21:2), it was not because they were a “superior” race or nationality, but simply because they were citizens of the nation of Israel (a similar concept would be the fact that a person who is born in the USA is not inherently any less or any more valuable than any other person, but, under the law system of the United States, that person would possess certain rights and privileges that a non-citizen would not enjoy). Deuteronomy 10:17-19 illustrates God’s impartiality well:

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore, love the stranger; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The New Testament further underscores the idea of human equality in passages such as Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one man in Christ Jesus.” Job’s statement regarding his slave’s equality—due to the fact that God formed him in the same way that God formed Job (31:15)—provides a perfect example of the biblical idea that all men possess the same inherent value. The idea that one nation or race is superior to another does not come from the Bible. Racism like that displayed by many during the slavery years of the United States has always been a sin (Acts 17:26-31).

A valid question naturally arises from the comment above, that, on occasion, nations as a whole were enslaved because of their wickedness. What about the children of those wicked men and women? Must they become slaves as well, suffering for their parents’ evil actions? First, let us acknowledge that, even today, children often suffer because of their parents’ poor decisions. Consider the sad and pitiful plight of a child whose father is an alcoholic or child abuser. That child will suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Even in modern times, the children who are born in poverty or cruelty often remain slaves of those elements their entire lives. Second, let us ask a more pertinent question: Would it be better for that child to grow up in a country where the slave laws protected him or her, or would it be better for the child to have to “pass through the fire to Molech”? To ask is to answer, is it not? When nations were conquered by the Israelites, what was to happen to the nations’ children who remained alive? They could be left to die on their own, or they could be given homes, food, and jobs. Which of the two options is more humane? Again, to ask is to answer. Furthermore, if the child grew up and did not like his master, he or she could simply run away and live wherever he or she wanted (Deuteronomy 23:15-16).

As we consider further the situation of slaves in ancient Israel, it is interesting to note that every slave was entitled (by God) to have a part in the Sabbath rest once every week. Exodus 20:10 states:

[B]ut the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates (emp. added).

Along these same lines, every slave also was entitled to partake in the eight-day festivities surrounding the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:9-17). The welcome rest provided on these occasions shows that God’s regulations for slavery in Israel were humane and fair. Furthermore, the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10) provided freedom to “all the inhabitants” in the land of the children of Israel. [This provision included many of the slaves, with possible exceptions such as those slaves who had chosen to stay with their masters and have their ears pierced as a sign of their situation, and those slaves that were taken from other nations.]

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.

Certainly, God kindly provided rest and freedom for slaves under the Old Testament in order to quell abuses that might arise.

Slaves of Debt

Another aspect of Old Testament slavery had to do with severe debt accumulation. In Old Testament times, no bankruptcy legislation held sway over the Israelites. What was to be done for the person who was drowning in a sea of debt? Was his lender simply to wave his hand and forgive the debt? Would that be a fair situation for the lender? Hardly. Therefore, many of the slave situations arose because of such debt. Herb Vander Lugt commented:

Remember too, at that time no nation had the ability to deal with people who had gotten themselves hopelessly in debt. So they were allowed to sell themselves into slavery (often temporarily) in exchange for release from their financial obligations (Ex. 21:2-4; Lev. 25:39-43; Dt.15:12) [1999, p. 11, parenthetical item in orig.].

Leviticus 25:47-49 provides an example of slavery caused by debt:

Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself.

Would it be fair for a society to allow a person who had accumulated a huge amount of debt to sell his labor to another person to pay that debt? Yes, it would. However, God—aware that abuse might arise in any situation—even regulated debt slavery, and provided for the rights and privileges of the slave to be guarded.

DIFFICULT LAWS TO UNDERSTAND

Admittedly, even with all the humane slave laws contained in the Old Testament, there are certain laws that we, in modern times, have a difficult time understanding. For instance, Exodus 21:20 reads:

And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.

In the first place, how could God allow a slave owner to beat his slave at all? To answer this question, we must remember who many of the Old Testament slaves were. They were members of the wicked, sinful nations who had been delivered into the hands of the Israelites because of their immorality. Suppose that a slave from one of those nations had made up his mind to do as much damage to his owner as possible. The slave had the option of running away to a gentler owner whenever he wished (Deuteronomy 23:15-16). However, suppose that he chose to stay and steal from the owner, or break the owner’s equipment intentionally, or destroy the owner’s crops. What could the owner do to stop such sabotage? Herb Vander Lugt put it like this:

Then, too, no matter how well the slaves were treated, some might have been rebellious and defiant. Forgetting that they were alive because they were taken as war captives instead of being executed, they might have blamed their master for their slave status. They might have shown their resentment by destroying property, abusing fellow slaves, or refusing to work. The master may have had no other way to bring his slave in line than to use physical punishment (1999, p. 17).

As appalling as it is to the sensitivities of most United States citizens, many countries still employ some type of beating or bodily harm to deter crime (some readers may recall the controversy over “caning” in Singapore in the early 1990s). When a modern-day prisoner violates rules while incarcerated, more stringent punishment (such as solitary confinement) often is required. If a slave deserved the death sentence, yet was allowed to live under certain conditions—and then did not comply with those conditions—would it be feasible to suggest that his death sentence could be reinstated? Even though it seems harsh to us, Exodus 21:20 does not militate against the justice of God.

In fact, the more closely the passage is scrutinized, the more it manifests the idea that God was protecting the slave. Concerning the punishment that a master would receive if he did beat his slave to death, Christopher Wright noted that the word “punished” as used here actually means “avenged.” And,

in any other context [it] would mean that the guilty party would be liable to death himself at the hands of his victim’s family…. This law’s natural sense is that the murderous master was to be executed by the legal community on behalf of the slave, who had no family to avenge him (1983, p. 180).

While not all commentators are as confident as Wright is (that in this passage the death penalty is involved), there is no concrete case which argues that the death penalty is not at least a possibility in this situation. The authors of the Pulpit Commentary observed how this fear of punishment would protect the slave.

Involving, as the death of the slave did, criminal proceedings, and, on conviction, severe punishment, the mere danger of a fatal result ensuing would be a powerful deterrent from exceptional violence…. The mere risk of incurring such a penalty would inspire salutary caution (Spence and Exell, n.d., p. 179).

Adding additional weight to the argument that the restriction in Exodus 21:20 was for the benefit of the slave, Burton Coffman wrote:

This was a protective right granted to slaves that they should not be beaten to death! If that seems like a small blessing to us, let it be remembered that under the system in vogue all over the pagan world of that era, and extending down even till apostolical times, the Roman Law, in force all over the world, provided as a penalty against slaves, even for trivial and unintentional violations, that shame of the whole pagan world “flagellis ad mortem” (beaten to death), a penalty usually inflicted in the presence of all the other slaves of a master. God here provided thatpunishment should be meted out to a slave-owner for following that pagan custom (1985, pp. 309-310).

By way of summary, then, Exodus 21:20 documents that under certain circumstances, beating could be morally acceptable as punishment. This passage, however, provided rights that did not exist in other pagan cultures for the protection of the slave.

Exodus 21:26-27 provides another example of a law that seems difficult for us, in the present day, to understand as coming from a righteous God.

If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth.

Again, let it be noted that physical punishment might be the only solution to an unruly, rebellious slave who should have received the death penalty. However, something else of interest emerges from this verse that, rather than expressing the cruelty of Old Testament laws regulating slavery, shows instead God’s care for those enslaved. The text states that the eyes and teeth of slaves should not be knocked out or destroyed. However, the nations around the Israelites did not adhere to any such standards. When the Philistines captured Samson, they “took him and put out his eyes; and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters; and he became a grinder in the prison” (Judges 16:21). Also, when the Babylonian soldiers raided Israel, capturing King Zedekiah, “they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon” (2 Kings 25:7). God’s regulations for the treatment of slaves provided the slaves with many more rights than they had in the nations surrounding Israel.

Another of the most startling regulations concerning slavery is found in Leviticus 19:20-22:

And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering (KJV).

Of course, skeptics have a heyday with this reading from the King James Version, which seems to indicate that if a free man has sexual intercourse with a slave woman who is betrothed, then the slave woman is to be scourged and the man simply supplies a ram as a trespass offering. However, upon further investigation, it can be seen that this passage says something far different.

In the first place, the translators of the KJV most likely mistranslated the part of the text “she shall be scourged.” The ASV translators rendered the passage as follows:

And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman that is a bondmaid, betrothed to a husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; they shall be punished; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass-offering unto Jehovah, unto the door of the tent of meeting, even a ram for a trespass-offering.

The NKJV translators offered this reading:

Whoever lies carnally with a woman who is betrothed to a man as a concubine, and who has not at all been redeemed nor given her freedom, for this there shall be scourging; but they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering to the Lord, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, a ram as a trespass offering.

A brief look at these three translations shows that the recipient(s) of the punishment is not as clearly delineated as the KJV indicates. Keil and Delitzsch, in their commentary on the Pentateuch, noted that the scourging “referred to both parties, as is evident from the expression, ‘they shall not be put to death’” (1981, p. 422). G.J. Wenham has introduced another interesting solution regarding this passage by translating the disputed passage about scourging as “damages must be paid” (1979, p. 270). Concerning this translation he wrote:

This is the most problematic phrase in this law: literally, “there will be a biqqôret.” The word biqqôret occurs only here in the OT, and its meaning is therefore quite uncertain…. Other renderings of biqqôret have less to commend them. “An inquiry shall be held” (RSV; cf. NEB) is vacuous: every legal dispute would have involved inquiry. “She shall be scourged” (AV) goes back to an old Jewish interpretation,probably based on the dubious derivation of biqqôret from bâqâr, “ox, i.e., an oxhide scourge” (pp. 270-271, emp. added).

Taking these things into account, it appears that the passage does not indicate that the female should be scourged apart from the guilty male. Rather, whatever punishment was inflicted should be applied equally, except for the fact that the guilty male alone shoulders the responsibility of supplying the ram for the trespass offering.

According to God, the Israelites did not have absolute control over their slaves, as is evinced by the instructions in Exodus 21:20,26-27 and Leviticus 19:20. This idea was a departure from the generally accepted notions of slavery in the Near East during the Israelites’ day. “Any demeaning or oppressive treatment of slaves was condemned as wrong by biblical writers” (Copan, 2001, pp. 173-174). God’s laws in the Old Testament not only regulated slavery (so that those enslaved would be given many rights that they otherwise would not have had), but they also supplied the means whereby fairness could be meted out with regard to criminal activity and debt. Every regulation of slavery in the Old Testament can be shown to be in harmony with the principles of justice and fairness.

SLAVERY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

As we look into the New Testament, we see a strikingly different picture with regard to the biblical injunctions pertaining to slavery. The New Testament does not contain the specific regulations dealing with slavery that can be found in the Old Testament. In fact, for the most part, the New Testament says very little in its regulation of slavery. And herein lies one of the skeptic’s primary challenges to the New Testament’s stance on slavery. If the New Testament is supposedly a book inspired by an all-loving God, why does it remain virtually silent on slavery? Smith and Hoffman, in their attack on the Bible, stated:

Slave-owning was the order of the day and, so far as we are told, Jesus never attacked the practice. He took the state of affairs for granted and shaped his parables accordingly…. If Jesus had denounced slavery, we should almost certainly have heard of his doing so (Smith and Hoffman, 1989, p. 143).

The other challenge to the New Testament’s stance on slavery centers on the passages that teach slaves to be humble and obedient servants to their masters. In Colossians 3:22, Paul commanded: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord” (NRSV). Although several modern translations insert the word “servants” at the first of this verse, “slaves” is probably a better translation of the Greek word douloi in this passage (Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, p. 205). Other similar passages include 1 Peter 2:18-20, 1 Corinthians 7:21-24, and Ephesians 6:5-9. Ruth Green, after presenting her case to suggest that the Bible condones slavery, wrote:

Those who deny my contentions about the Bible should turn to the Epistles to see what Paul and Peter have to say about “servants” and masters. Here are only two examples: “Servants, be subject to your masters in all fear” (1 Peter 2:18). “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters . . . with fear and trembling” (Ephesians 6:5). There are many more instructions about slavery in the Christian Holy Book (1979, p. 352).

Does the New Testament remain silent in its condemnation of all slavery? And why does it specifically instruct slaves to be obedient to their masters?

First, it must be acknowledged that many of the types of servanthood or slavery in the New Testament are identical to the morally permissible types discussed earlier in this article. For instance, much first-century slavery discussed in the Bible centered on the fact that a person had accrued massive debt, and thus had become a slave or servant due to this debt. As an example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25-26). From Christ’s comments, it can be ascertained that the person in this text who does not make the effort to agree with his adversary could risk being thrown into prison until that person “paid the last penny.” This situation involved a revoking of individual freedoms due to the fact that the individual owed an unpaid debt—a debt that originally was owed to the adversary, or one that resulted from a fine imposed by a judge.

In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus told a story about a servant who owed his master ten thousand talents. A talent was a huge sum of money that would be the modern equivalent of many thousands of dollars. It could easily have been the case that this servant had become a servant due to this enormous debt, or was being kept a servant because of the debt. Debt slavery was still a very real form of restitution in New Testament times. Such a condition absolutely cannot be used to argue that God is an unjust God for letting such take place.

Furthermore, it is a false notion that God condones something just because He mentions it without an immediate condemnation of it in the surrounding verses. Skeptics point to verses like 1 Peter 2:8 and Ephesians 6:5, and then insist that God condones abusive slavery because He instructs servants to be obedient to their masters. But, let us analyze that line of thinking. In Matthew 5:39, Christ instructed His listeners: “Do not resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Because Jesus told His listeners to be kind and turn the other cheek, does that mean that He condones the actions of the one who did the slapping? Absolutely not! Or what about the fact that Paul, through divine inspiration, instructed his readers to be subject to civil governments and to pay taxes to those governments. Was Paul condoning all practices of all governments to whom his readers would be subject and pay taxes? Certainly not. God never has condoned such unjustified behavior on the part of any individual or group.

Biblical Principles and Abolition

As a concluding argument, let it be clearly stated that the principles set forth by Jesus and His apostles, if followed, would result in the abolition of all types of abusive relationships. Slavery would have been nonexistent if everyone from the first century forward had adhered to Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 7:12: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” Any discussion of slavery would be moot if the world had heeded the words of Peter: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8).

Truly, the teachings of the Lord and the apostles would have abolished slavery like no other social reform system ever known. As Herb Vander Lugt accurately observed:

Jesus and the apostles didn’t go on an anti-slavery crusade, because doing so would have been futile and a hindrance to their primary mission. The priority of Jesus was the provision of salvation. For the apostles it was the proclamation of the gospel. But both Jesus and the apostles undermined the basis for slavery by making it clear that God equally loves rich and poor, free and slave, male and female. The apostles also welcomed into the church and gave equal status to all who believed, regardless of race, gender, nationality, or social position (1999, p. 26).

Furthermore, an outright condemnation of kidnapping, or slave trading, is found in the New Testament. In 1 Timothy 1:9-10, Paul wrote:

We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave tradersand liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine… (NIV, emp. added).

Other versions render the Greek word andrapodistais as “kidnappers,” or “menstealers,” but it also is translated slave dealers or slave traders (Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, p. 63). Therefore, in keeping with the Old Testament injunction that anyone kidnapping and selling a person involves himself in immoral conduct, Paul certainly distinguished between certain types of slavery practices that were inherently wrong, and others that were not intrinsically sinful.

CONCLUSION

The fact is, certain types of “slavery” not only are permissible, but sometimes necessary to the well-being of a society at large. For the biblical stance on slavery to be condemned as unjust, it must be established that the specific regulations of slavery described in the text are immoral and unfair. However, when closely scrutinized, the biblical stance on slavery aligns itself with true justice. All regulations found therein were established for the just treatment of all parties involved. Many times, slavery as regulated in the Old Testament was a mutually beneficial relationship between servant and master, similar to an employee/employer relationship. Furthermore, slavery often was a substitute for the death penalty—which certain nations deserved. Debt accumulation caused many free persons to sell their labor and become slaves.

The skeptic’s criticism that the New Testament does not speak against the abolition of slavery is misguided for any number of reasons. First, an attempt to generalize and condemn all types of slavery fails to take into account prison, personal debt, indentured servanthood, and a host of other morally permissible situations. Bankruptcy laws, prison terms, community service hours, and garnished wages are morally acceptable modern equivalents to certain types of slavery that were prevalent during the time of the biblical writers. Second, Jesus and the New Testament writers always condemned the mistreatment of any human being, instructing their followers to be kind, loving, and compassionate, whether they were slaves or masters of slaves.

In The Social Record of Christianity, atheist Joseph McCabe wrote: “Slavery is the last word that any Christian apologist ought to mention” (1935, p. 27). But he missed one of the main points in the Bible—that point being that everyone is a slave to something. As the apostle Paul wrote through inspiration:

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18).

Some people are slaves to drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, attitudes of pessimism and complaint, or any number of other vices. Others, however, are slaves to righteousness, teaching the Gospel, helping the sick, and taking care of the poor. We each must decide which master we will allow to control our lives. As the psalmist so beautifully stated it many years ago, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).

God’s injunctions and instructions pertaining to slavery have a clear ring of justice, compassion, mercy, and kindness to them. When analyzed fairly and fully, the idea of slavery gives the honest person one more piece of evidence that points to the perfection of the God of the Bible.

 and http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/slavery_bible.html

The claim is often made that the Bible approves of slavery, implicating God as its supporter, since rules governing slavery can be found in the both the Old and New Testament. Since virtually everyone agrees that forced, involuntary servitude is morally wrong, how can Christians justify the Bible’s apparent support of slavery?

What the Old Testament says about slavery

First, we must recognize that the Bible does not say God supports slavery. In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today – in which people are captured and sold as slaves. According to Old Testament law, anyone caught selling another person into slavery was to be executed:

“He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)

So, obviously, slavery during Old Testament times was not what we commonly recognize as slavery, such as that practiced in the 17th century Americas, when Africans were captured and forcibly brought to work on plantations. Unlike our modern government welfare programs, there was no safety-net for ancient Middle Easterners who could not provide a living for themselves. In ancient Israel, people who could not provide for themselves or their families sold them into slavery so they would not die of starvation or exposure. In this way, a person would receive food and housing in exchange for labor.

The Irrational Atheist by Vox DaySo, although there are rules about slavery in the Bible, those rules exist to protect the slave. Injuring or killing slaves was punishable – up to death of the offending party.1 Hebrews were commanded not to make their slave work on the Sabbath,2 slander a slave,3 have sex with another man’s slave,4 or return an escaped slave.5 A Hebrew was not to enslave his fellow countryman, even if he owed him money, but was to have him work as a hired worker, and he was to be released in 7 years or in the year of jubilee (which occurred every 50 years), whichever came first.6 In fact, the slave owner was encouraged to “pamper his slave”.7

What the New Testament says about slavery

Since many of the early Christians were slaves to Romans,8 they were encouraged to become free if possible, but not worry about it if not possible.9 The Roman empire practiced involuntary slavery, so rules were established for Christians who were subject to this slavery or held slaves prior to becoming Christians. The rules established for slaves were similar to those established for other Christians with regard to being subject to governing authorities.10 Slaves were told to be obedient to their master and serve them sincerely, as if serving the Lord Himself.11 Paul instructed slaves to serve with honor, so that Christianity would not be looked down upon.12

As with slaves, instructions were given to their masters as to how they were to treat their slaves. For example, they were not to be threatened,13 but treated with justice and fairness.14 The text goes on to explain that this was to be done because God is the Master of all people, and does not show partiality on the basis of social status or position.13, 14

There is an interesting letter in the New Testament (Philemon1521) that gives some insight into the problems encountered in the early Christian church regarding the issue of slavery. Paul, the author of the letter, is writing from a Roman prison awaiting trial.15 He is writing to Philemon, who runs a local Christian church out of his house16 (since Christianity was highly persecuted at this point in time). Philemon, we find out, is the master of the slave Onesimus, who has escaped but has been converted to Christianity by Paul.18 In the letter, Paul indicates that he is sending Onesimus back to Philemon.19 However, Paul says that he has confidence that Philemon will “do what is proper”17 although Paul wants him to do it by his “own free will”.20 Even so, Paul indicates that Onesimus would be a great aid in helping him spread the gospel.19 Paul ends the letter by saying that he has “confidence in your obedience” and indicates that he knows Philemon “will do even more than what I say.”21 Although Paul did not directly order Philemon to release Onesimus from slavery, it would have been difficult to come away with any other conclusion from his letter.

God does not distinguish between slaves and freemen

7 Truths that Changed the World: Discovering Christianity's Most Dangerous IdeasContrary to the claims of many skeptics, the New Testament proclaims that all people are equal in the eyes of God – even slaves:

  • There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
  • knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. (Ephesians 6:8)
  • And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that b

Testimony

After 15+ years of unbelief, I’ve begun to believe in Christ and wanted to share my story. This is long, but I wanted to get it off my chest.
I was raised in a nominally Christian household. My mom took me to Church somewhat regularly for a few years while I was a kid but, we stopped going for some reason. I decided around the age of 10-11 that I didn’t really believe in Christianity and it was probably untrue. Learning more about world history and other world religions convinced me that since all religions couldn’t be true, that must all be lies. My parents weren’t strongly Christian enough to really seem to notice so I never got “in trouble” or yelled at for my unbelief.
During my high school years a teacher introduced me to Ayn Rand so I went through a few years of being an arrogant Objectivist jerk. I thought technology and humankind’s intellect could save the world. My fervor for Ayn Rand died down, but I was still really into the idea of humanism. I associated Christianity with hating and disbelieving science.
Throughout and after college one thing that kept growing was my cynicism. I lost faith in human progress, human nature, and human institutions. Even if you give people new technology and science they are still the same old people. And institutions always become corrupted over time (something that history affirms). I entered a phase of existential nihilism where it seemed like the universe was a cold dead place. Couple that with my views on people, and I didn’t find much hope in the world. I reached a point where I wished some religion could be true but felt they were all lies. I wasn’t depressed (during this phase I also met my wife and was pretty happy) but I got down in the dumps if I thought much about it. My wife told me that if she had my view of the world and people she would probably commit suicide. She believed in a benevolent God, although she had fallen away from Christianity at some point in college.
At some point in college, I had abandoned my like of Ayn Rand’s ideas. Science lost its luster as I realized I didn’t find it that interesting anymore. I was much more interested in literature, art, and philosophy. As I grew older, the selflessness and humility that Jesus preached made sense to me. I just didn’t think he was divine or anything besides a great teacher. I really enjoyed the album The Black Halo by the band Kamelot which was about a character who wanted to believe in God but just couldn’t (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDubchjrz1I).
Towards the end of college I encountered two authors that would cause me to think about some things. Fyodor Dostevsky and Gene Wolfe. If you haven’t heard of Gene Wolfe, he’s a science-fiction author whose work is highly literary and often influenced by his Christian beliefs. His Book of the New Sun provided a fresh take on various Christian concepts for me. Wolfe’s work said that everything humanity had ever done to establish a utopia would always fail and would always be doomed to fail until a savior came. The idea of Original Sin and its view of human nature made a lot of sense to me. I found the worldview both authors presented as accurate, but it didn’t prove the existence of God to me. I also wondered how God could have made a world filled with so much evil.
A couple of years ago, I watched what is now the first season of the HBO show, True Detective. It really helped crystallize some things for me. One of the main characters, Rust, advocates a view that says we are all automatons cursed with self-awareness and that we would probably all be better off not having any more children and letting the human race come to an end (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8x73UW8Hjk). I went into a tailspin of melancholy for a few months. I realized that with my current philosophy, there was no way that I could logically disagree with him. As time went on, I felt happier, but every few months I’d have some days where I felt pretty sad and would navel gaze about the meaning of existence a lot during my alone time.
During this period I read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I found it interesting but didn’t feel it was true due to the Problem of Evil. A year later I read it again. I realized after the second time that Lewis, combined with Dostoevsky and Wolfe, gave me the logical groundwork and worldview I needed to sustain a belief in God. God gave us Free Will and the ability to make this world a Hell if we chose.
I also don’t want to underestimate the influence my in-laws had on me. They were highly intelligent, trained in medicine and science, and serious about their religion. Their kids (my wife included) had all turned out great and they seemed pretty happy with their lives. They are two of the best people I have ever met, and it seemed like whatever they were doing worked. They knew I wasn’t religious but never treated me with anything except kindness, love, and acceptance.
Ultimately, particularly while at my wife’s grandfather’s Catholic funeral, I decided I wanted to believe. I had the logic I needed. I had exemplary people who showed what being Christian could be like. I felt a historical, cultural, and moral connection with Christianity that I didn’t feel with any other religion. It was easy for me to say “Christianity is the only religion that has any hope of being true to me.” It was time to go to Church, pray, and hope God would provide the feeling. One conversation I had carried with me for years was when I told a Mormon co-worker I didn’t feel that God existed and that I didn’t feel as if He was listening to me. The co-worker told me that he believed if a person prayed with an open heart and mind, God would take care of the rest.
So far it seems to be working. I’ve been going to Church every Sunday and have really enjoyed it. I went to an Ash Wednesday service, and I felt a sense of homecoming. I find hope in the idea that a creator cares about us, and I pray that He will forgive me for denying him, my arrogance, and the anger I’ve felt at people over the years. I still have questions about God and His will, but I am not afraid to ask and seek out the answers. I’m ready to leave my days of hating people and being angry at humanity behind me and to leave judgement to God. I will instead focus on making myself a better person and helping others. I am hoping to be baptized soon.

Testimony

My testimony is always a joy to tell. I was listening to music when a song entitled “Israel” came on, which depicts Jacob wrestling with God. This stuck my conscience as it felt like it related to me. I looked up the passage in the Bible in Genesis and felt as though something had clicked. I had not made Christ Lord over my life, I was living how I wanted to live without putting Christ first. I immediately broke down crying and suddenly heard a Bible verse in the back of my head (it was a clear man’s voice, I still cannot remember what specific verse I heard, but I remember freaking out because I knew that it was in the Bible). It hit me, all these times I have prayed and tried to hear the voice of God, I should have just been listening to His voice through Scripture as THAT is how He ultimately speaks to His people today.
I broke down, closed my eyes and for the first time in 21 years prayed with a heart of true repentance. I cried, “God, please Lord save my soul for I am no better than Satan! (paraphrase)” I immediately saw a visualization of a pitch black room getting lit up from an unknown source. It was then at this moment that I felt I understood I had been lying to myself about being a true Christian all these years. I then saw a beautiful flash of a intricate cobweb of colors while I was closing my eyes still, as that represented an “epiphany” of understanding the Scriptures as a whole and seeing the unity within Scriptures (I grew up studying the Bible, so I already knew how it worked, but never really connected the dots as it definitely being the official Word of God) all at once. It was as if I could see the Bible’s unity, represented as a cobweb of colors. I then began to weep uncontrollably and here is where the interesting stuff happens…
I lost a sense of my body. It was as if I got launched into a dream-like state, yet completely conscious. I had no sense of time, and no sense of ego. All I saw was a blacker-than-black area. It felt as though it was infinite in size, and my soul was suspended in it. I immediately saw a very clear outline of a wooden door. This door, which felt as though it was hundreds of feet tall, cracked open. It didn’t open completely, but all I saw behind the door was the brightest light I have ever seen emanating from inside. It didn’t light up the blackness surrounding it, but lit up the door significantly which was suspended in this seemingly infinite darkness. However, it did feel as though this light made me aware of the darkness surrounding it. I was in complete awe when I saw this and felt for the first time in my life that I had seen/felt God. Not knowing exactly what was going on, I just accepted it as I felt this light was trying to envelope me with its presence. I felt, at the time, that it was the Holy Spirit.
I then felt an unexplainable wave of energy (almost like an invisible wave of water in the ocean) hit me first in the head and overtake my entire body. The light from the door I saw that was cracked open entered my body. Not all of it, but an essence of its fullness, which would be the Holy Spirit. As soon as I felt this it was as if I had been propelled back down to earth. I opened my tear drenched eyes, with snot dripping on the floor in front of me, and the first word that popped in my mind was “Sword” (I also felt the presence of this word while I was looking at the door crack open, as that is where it came from). I didn’t know what it meant, but knew I had heard/felt it. I immediately got up and said to myself, “I have been regenerated!”
That was three weeks ago. I have deciphered the meaning of “Sword” as meaning the sword of the spirit. God’s way of telling me with the English language that He saved me and gave me the Holy Spirit. I have joined XEE (a gospel sharing ministry in my church), all of my depression/anxiety I suffered with for years is completely gone, my relationship with my fiance is mended completely (as she was a true Christian, and I was not, so we had many problems), and I have an unsatiable hunger for the Word of God and sharing it with others (reading multiple chapters everyday).
The funny part is that after I was “born again,” I lost around 5-6 pounds over the next 7 days, just because I could barely eat anything! Another funny thing to mention as well, is that in my past I had smoked plenty of weed, drunk plenty of alcohol, was addicted to caffeine, enjoyed cigarettes/cigars a bit too much, and even had done LSD. But NOTHING, and I repeat, NOTHING will ever compare to the infinitely pure sense of peace and purpose I felt on the day of my regeneration. The ultimate, and only true, “high.” Which I certainly still have to this day. 😉
Have a great day! 😀

Why does God allow Evil?

Why Does God Allow Evil?

That is a very important question, one that, if it is not the hardest, one of the hardest questions that people have to face.  Especially if one were to deal with someone who has suffered, for example, cancer that took a loved one, a daughter who was raped and brutally murdered, or a husband who find himself disabled and unable to provide for his family.

This question comes in many forms, variations, and nuances.  Perhaps the most difficult way to present this question is the following:

If an all-powerful, all-loving, benevolent God exists, why does He allow so much evil and suffering in the world?

Epicurus, a 3rd to 2nd BC Greek atheistic philosopher, wrote the following about God and evil:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. 
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. 
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? 
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Is Epicurus right?  Should we conclude that God is not powerful enough to stop evil, benevolent enough to stop it, and thus, cannot be called God?  Are there good reasons why God allows evil to occur on earth?

When I deal with question of evil and suffering, I do so with enormous sympathy, because although this question has an intellectual side, it also has a very deep, personal and powerful emotional side as well. I understand that many people are suffering as a result of evil.  Because of that, I treat this subject with extreme sensitivity.

Bear in mind that any response I give to this question will not undo any act of evil that you, or someone you know, experienced.  Any answer I give will not explain every single act of evil; however, it is my hope that I can explain why God might allow evil to occur.

There are two ways to look at this problem: one as the observer and the other as the participant. Cancer looks very different to a professor of oncology than a 20-year old woman who has been told she has three months to live. Either way you look at it, I hope that my answer helps you sort out any issues you have regarding the problem of evil and suffering.

There are three reasons why I believe God might allow evil and suffering to occur:

1. Love requires freedom

Upon observing the world as it is, it seems reasonable to me that love is the supreme ethic.  Our music artists often sing about it.  Our poets often write about it.  Societies champion it.  Indeed, even Jesus, when answering a Jewish lawyer on the greatest commandment, Jesus responded with the following:

 ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

In regard to good and evil, there are four possible ways that God could have decided to create the universe:

  1. No creation
  2. A world in which only evil exists
  3. A world in which only good exists
  4. A world in which good exists, but with the possibility for evil

The question is this: of which of these possibilities allows for the existence of real, genuine love?  Let’s explore the options

The first option is no creation.  Without a creation, there can be no love in it.

The second option is a world in which only evil exists.  If love is the supreme ethic, and God created a world in which only evil exists, then in this world, there is nothing ethical, only unethical.  The supreme ethic, love, cannot exist in a world in which ethics do not exist.

The third option is perhaps the most popular.  This is a world in which only good exists.  Can real, genuine love exist in this world?  I would like suggest that the answers is no.  You see, in order for real, genuine love to exist, it requires freedom of the will.  It requires the possibility of rejection.  For example, my love for my wife is genuine only because, despite my option to reject her, I have decided, in my own freedom, to love her.  Without my freedom of rejection, I would become more like a robot, programmed to “love” my wife.  Sure, I could comply, in a mechanical way, but pre-programmed, forced love is not genuine.

This only leaves one option left.  It is a world in which good exists, but with the possibility of evil.  Only in this world can real, genuine love exist.  God has given us the freedom to either choose to love Him, and obey His commandments, or to reject Him, and to do what we want instead.  When we reject God, and choose to disobey Him, we often make bad, immoral, unethical, selfish choices.  We do evil and often hurt other people as a result of our bad choices.  Yet real, genuine love, if it is to exist, God must allow us the possibility of rejecting Him, to go our own way, and to do evil.  It is an unfortunate consequence, and a high price to pay for love to exist.

Suppose my wife and I were to bring a child into this world.  We know full well that our child could grow up to love us, and having a loving relationship with us.  We also know that our child could grow up to reject and hate us and do all kinds of horrible things.  We believe that, despite the possibility of rejection, it is worth the risk to bring a child into this world.  In the same way, God thought we were worth the risk of bringing people into this world, with the freedom to love Him or to reject Him.  God’s greatest desire is to have a personal, loving relationship with us.  This cannot occur if God does not allow us the freedom to do evil.

2. Evil builds character

Think about the greatest lessons you learned in life.  The lessons that you will carry with you your entire life and will bestow upon your children, should you choose to have any.  Were they learned from times of joy, or times of pain?  From doing right, or doing wrong?  From success, or from failure?  While I cannot speak for other people, for myself, the latter is true for each of these.  The greatest lessons I learned in life are when I was hurting, when I did wrong, and when I failed.  There are certain characteristics that I could not develop had there been no evil in the world.

If there was no pain in my life, I would not learn to forgive others.  If others were not suffering pain, I would not develop empathy, sympathy, or compassion.  if I did not make mistakes and failed, I would not grow as an individual.  If there was nothing to be afraid of, I could not develop courage.  There are certain characteristics that we simply cannot develop if there us no evil or suffering in the world.

Please do not misunderstand.  I am not condoning that we ought to cause pain, to do wrong, or to fail.  Clearly, we ought not do these things and should avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.  My point is that there are certain characteristics that God wants us to develop that cannot be developed through times of joy, from doing right, or from success.

3. Evil in the context of eternity

Evil and suffering, from an atheistic/naturalistic perspective, are typically experienced and understood within the context of our lives here on earth.  According to this perspective, life only occurs between the day we are born to the time we die.  Nothing happens after we die.  One can think of life as a line segment, the “dash” on a gravestone, connecting two important events in history: birth and death.  During this time, the best we can hope for is a long, healthy life, with minimal suffering and filled with much joy and personal pleasure.  We may be right to become angry if, given a life expectancy of 80 years, we develop cancer at the age of 39 and 6 months, with only 6 months to live.  Our death will effectively cut half of the potential of our lives.  We will have been cheated 40 years of life because of evil.

Suppose the Bible is true, and there really is life after death.  How does this change the way we view evil?  In the context of eternity, how significant is our 80 year lifespan on earth?  I would like to suggest that, the longer one lives after death, the less significant evil becomes.  If one lives 10,000 years with God in heaven, the temporary suffering in one’s 40 year life will become so insignificant, it might as well be forgotten!

If God has eternity in mind in His attempt to have a loving relationship with us, allowing us the freedom to choose Him or to reject Him, and to use evil as a means to develop certain characteristics in us that we otherwise could not develop, one may begin to understand why God allows evil to occur in this world.

 

The Holy Trinity

http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/doctrine/the-holy-trinity

The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not merely an “article of faith” which men are called to “believe.” It is not simply a dogma which the Church requires its good members to “accept on faith.” Neither is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity the invention of scholars and academicians, the result of intellectual speculation and philosophical thinking.

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity arises from man’s deepest experiences with God. It comes from the genuine living knowledge of those who have come to know God in faith.

The paragraphs which follow are intended to show something of what God has revealed of Himself to the saints of the Church. To grasp the words and concepts of the doctrine of the Trinity is one thing; to know the Living Reality of God behind these words and concepts is something else. We must work and pray so that we might pass beyond every word and concept about God and to come to know Him for ourselves in our own living union with Him: “The Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit” (Eph 2: 18–22).

The Holy Trinity in Christian Life

The new commandment of Christian life is “to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5.48). It is to love as Christ Himself has loved. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15.12). Men cannot live the Christian life of divine love in imitation of God’s perfection without the grace of the Holy Spirit. With the power of God, however, what is impossible to men becomes possible. “For with God all things are possible” (Mk 10.27).

The Christian life is the life of God accomplished in men by the Spirit of Christ. Men can live as Christ has lived, doing the things that He did and becoming sons of God in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, once more, the Christian life is a Trinitarian life.

By the Holy Spirit given by God through Christ, men can share the life, the love, the truth, the freedom, the goodness, the holiness, the wisdom, the knowledge of God Himself. It is this conviction and experience which has caused the development in the Orthodox Church of the affirmation of the fact that the essence of Christianity is “the acquisition of the Holy Spirit” and the “deification” of man by the grace of God, the so-called theosis.

The saints of the Church are unanimous in their claim that Christian life is the participation in the life of the Blessed Trinity in the most genuine and realistic way. It is the life of men becoming divine. In the smallest aspects of everyday life Christians are called to live the life of God the Father, which is communicated to them by Christ, the Son of God, and made possible for them by the Holy Spirit who lives and acts within them.

Answered Prayer

I’m 19 years old and on February 27th on this year I prayed to God about my depression and anxiety, I’ve never really prayed before but things were getting tougher and I didn’t know if I’ll ever be able to find the strength to do better in life with depression and anxiety. The main thing that makes me anxious was me having a stutter. I prayed to God asking if he could not get rid of my anxiety completely but at least get rid of my stutter just to ease my anxiety so I can live a little more and sort my life out.

About 10 minutes after I prayed I was walking home listening to my music and I heard “Yes my Son” In both my head and heart if that makes sense.

I must of looked like an idiot walking home because I was in shock I just kept saying to myself “did God just answer me?” could not fathom what just happened I was so shocked, I got home and I literally burst into tears of happiness and prayed to thank God that he heard me and answered, which I never thought would happen, crying tears of happiness while depressed.

Since that night, I haven’t stuttered once and I’m starting to be more social and enjoying life more. You may not believe me but it has truly helped me and I’m ready to keep my promise to God and sort my life out.

New Age Alien Deception

Jefferson Scott

Original Link:http://www.jeffersonscott.com/nonfiction/ufos.htm

Intelligent Christian Thrillers

UFOs and the Christian Worldview

Most Christians don’t think about UFOs.

Except for catching the occasional episode of X-Files or maybe watching the latest Independence Day wannabe, the topic of extraterrestrial life simply never comes up. If a Christian ever does think about alien intelligence, he usually believes it’s all a bunch of hooey, nothing more than a product of the lunatic fringe. “Addicts take their drugs and, poof, they see flying saucers—right next to flying skillets, flying Volkswagens, and flying walruses.”

This is what I thought, too, before I started this study.

I have to admit to a certain fascination with the subject. I’ve always loved science fiction, so the idea of extraterrestrial civilizations has been with me for decades. I watched every quasi-documentary on the subject I could. I became acquainted with subjects like alien abductions, cattle mutilations, crop circles, crashed or captured alien vessels, government studies, alien autopsies, the supposed hybridization program, and men in black.

The video footage in some of these documentaries was astonishing. Even allowing for a high percentage of forgeries, there were some amazing examples that could not be explained. After watching a particularly convincing UFO special on The Learning Channel, I decided it was time to take a serious look at the subject.

You have to understand something about me: I’m a researcher. I love learning. I’m also a seminary graduate. I hold the Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. So when I decide to research a subject like this, I plunge into it with both flippers—all with the purpose of integrating it into the Christian worldview.

Before I read a single UFO book, I wanted to settle some things in my mind. What would happen if there came undeniable, absolutely certain evidence of extraterrestrial life? Would my faith be able to handle it, or was my Christianity too brittle to accept it? In other words, would I be obliged, by my own inability to face this new data, into denying it completely? Would I be in the same group as those who say the earth is flat?

I asked myself if I believed God could create intelligent life on other planets if He wanted to. I asked myself what it would mean to my faith, if anything, if that were the case. I asked myself whether other intelligent species, if there were any, would have to come to faith in Jesus Christ or if God would have supplied them another way.

I asked myself whether the pillar of cloud and the pillar fire in the Bible were really UFOs, whether Elijah’s chariot of fire were really a flying saucer, and if Paul’s trip into the third heaven were really an abduction experience.

I asked the hardest questions, too. What if God were merely a superintelligent alien? What if we are just his simulation on some cosmic supercomputer? What if mankind is not the unique creature, the pinnacle of God’s creation, that the Bible teaches we are?

I came to some faith conclusions, the chief of which was that I decided outright that I was going to come out on the other side of this study with the same God I came into it with. I wasn’t interested in dropping Jesus or making Him into a spaceman. I knew that my God was the holder of the universe, so anything that made its way across that universe would have to be under the umbrella of His sovereignty. With that settled, I opened the UFO literature.

For the record, I do believe God could create intelligent life on other planets, but I don’t believe He’s done so. If there were any intelligent extraterrestrial species, it wouldn’t impact Christianity’s validity in the slightest. Our belief system would not come crashing down like a house of cards. Our mission field would expand, but Christianity itself would never be replaced as the answer.

I believe all alien species, should there be any, would have to come to Jesus Christ to be saved. It’s just an extension of what we already believe: that an obscure carpenter from a poor family in an insignificant region of a backwater outpost of the Roman empire holds the key to eternal life. How much more difficult is it to extend that to say that the One who holds the key to eternity is from a no-name planet circling a forgotten star on the edge of an unimportant galaxy?

I don’t believe the Bible depicts UFOs in any way, shape, or form. There is no reason to believe the angels and miracles in Scripture are anything but what they claim to be: supernatural agents and works of God. As this paper will argue, I do think UFOs have something to do with angels, but not the angels that inhabit heaven.

I don’t believe God is just a super-alien who created us on his PC for a school project. God is eternal, holy, and unchanging. I believe in the God of the Bible, the God who made man His crowning creation.

All right, enough introduction. I’ll sum up my position in one sentence: I believe the UFO phenomenon is 100% demonic. I believe it is a real phenomenon, not just the ravings of crack addicts and lonesome country hicks. I believe UFOs are real, aliens are real, abductions and animal mutilations are real, and that governments (especially the American government) maintain relations with these beings. But I believe the whole thing is demonic.

The “aliens” message can be convincing, though. As I studied it, I felt its pull. Even with my MDiv and all my years of living the Christian life, I could still feel the tug of doubt, like someone pulling hairs on my arm. What if? The scary thing is that if it could be that troubling to me, how would it sound to someone with little or no Christian mooring? Indeed, I believe this is the Great Deception that is going to come upon man. It will be so compelling, so reasonable, so consistent with modern sensibilities, that people will ascribe to it by the billions. Even the very Elect will be deceived, if it were possible.

So I offer this document in defiance of that deception. My aim is to inform those Christians who desire to integrate the UFO phenomenon into the Christian worldview of what I’ve discovered in my investigation. If I’m wrong, no biggie. If I’m right, you will have been given the truth in time, God willing, for it to make a difference.

It is worth noting at the outset that many Christian leaders and groups consider aliens to be demonic: Hank Hanegraaff (Christian Research Institute’s “Bible Answer Man”), cult watchdogs Watchman Fellowship, and authors Chuck Missler, Dale Sumbreru, William R. Goetz, and Dr. Mark Eastman among them.

I also find it interesting that several non-Christian sources have concluded that UFOs are demonic. A former Chief of British Defense Staff, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton, says some UFO encounters are “definitely antithetical to orthodox Christian belief.” Gordon Creighton, a Buddhist and editor of Flying Saucer Review, has said, “I do believe that the great bulk of these phenomena are what is called satanic.”

Such explanations are uniformly denounced by the greater UFO community as too nice and easy. The article in which Hill-Norton and Creighton are quoted (which can be found in the News Archives section of the web site, www.mufon.com) received a firestorm of opposition from secular readers. The primary criticism of the aliens-are-demons theory is that it is, to some, too nice and neat. The very essence of UFOs, they say, is that they are unexplained—by which they mean unexplainable. But what if an explanation could be found? Should it be rejected a priori?

I myself set out on this study intending to disprove “the demon theory” as naiève. I remember sending e-mail to a former professor, informing him I was embarking on this investigation. I told him I wanted to study it seriously and not accept the simple answer I had heard: that aliens were nothing but demons in disguise. The things we say…

I read dozens of secular books on UFOs. I read Christian books on the subject. I watched programs and read articles. I scoured the Internet. I exchanged ideas with UFO researchers around the world. As I studied, I found certain arguments ringing true, making more sense than others, explaining more of the phenomena. That is the purpose of investigation, is it not?

After I had surveyed the evidence and heard the arguments, I had to reconsider my views. I could no longer assert that “the demon theory” was irrational. After all, wouldn’t it be just as closed-minded to reject the demon theory out of hand as it would be to accept it without investigation? And what if, for once, the most obvious answer—nice and neat though it be—were actually the truth? It is my hope that after you read the arguments below, you will be willing to reconsider your views, too.

Note: In this document I sometimes express amusement over the claims of these “aliens” or their disciples. Sometimes I say I “like” or “love” this or that. It doesn’t mean that I truly approve of these ridiculous assertions, but simply that I am entertained by their bald-faced audacity. I think God laughs at them, too.


List of Arguments
Argument #1: Walk-the-walk Christians are never abducted

Argument #2: Calling on the name of Jesus stops abductions in progress

Argument #3: The link between UFO activity and the occult

Argument #4: The psychological nature of alien encounters

Argument #5: The religious nature of the aliens’ message

Argument #6: The fiendish character of alien and UFO behavior

Argument #7: The interdimensional nature of UFOs and aliens

Argument #8: The focus, in abductions, on extracting terror

Other arguments and observations

The Alien Message

Conclusion: What Can You Do?


Argument #1

WALK-THE-WALK CHRISTIANS ARE NEVER ABDUCTED

There are at least two groups of people in every church: talk-the-talk Christians and walk-the-walk Christians. In some regions of America, notably the Bible belt, the average church will have 85% talk-the-talk Christians and 15% walk-the-walk Christians. They’re not easy to differentiate by casual observation, but time and adversity will always separate the sheep from the goats.

Aliens, however, seem to have no trouble identifying walk-the-walk Christians. This demographic, this segment of the population, seems to be the only one immune to UFO activity. A walk-the-walk Christian will rarely, if ever, even spot a UFO, much less undergo abduction attempts. (See the excellent discussion of this here.) Some abductees claim to be Christian, such as Betty Andreasson, but their tales usually reveal their identity as talk-the-talkers only.

Now, if you were a UFO researcher and you discovered that one segment of the population was immune to UFO activity, wouldn’t you be interested? Wouldn’t you be looking hard at that group, wondering what it was about them that made them different? And if you found that thing, wouldn’t you consider adopting it for yourself? Yet there is this strange reluctance on the part of non-Christian UFO researchers to even consider Christianity as the answer to this problem, and an even stranger rejection of it—even though it represents the answer they’re supposedly seeking.

It is a documented fact that UFO activity is most rampant in countries with little or no Christian influence. Brazil, Russia, China, Mexico, Jamaica, the Philippines, and other spots on the Christian frontier seem to be UFO favorites. There seems to be a connection between Christianity’s influence on a nation—or an individual —and UFO activity.

The fact that UFOs have been sighted with growing regularity in America may testify to Christianity’s weakening influence here.

There is a passage in the Bible that seems related: Revelation 9:1–11 speaks of demonic creatures that swarm over the earth to torment mankind. It is interesting that the beings are limited (v4) to “those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” In other words, only walk-the-walk Christians were to be exempted from their tortures. And that is, indeed, what seems to be happening with UFO activity.

In my mind, this argument is, by itself, convincing. If there is only one people group on the earth that is immune to alien abductions, that means there is something going on with that group. Whatever conclusions you draw, it seems to me that one of them must be that aliens don’t like walk-the-walk Christians. The Bible makes it clear (1 John 4:4, Luke 10:17, Romans 8:38) that true Christians have nothing to fear from demons—or aliens, for that matter.

Back to List of Arguments

 

Argument #2

CALLING ON THE NAME OF JESUS STOPS ABDUCTIONS IN PROGRESS

There have been only three methods proven effective in thwarting abduction attempts: righteous anger, strength of spirit, and calling on the name of Jesus in faith. The first two have been known to stop isolated abduction attempts, but cannot end the aliens’ abduction efforts entirely. In these cases, the aliens simply appear in a new form, trying a new tactic.

Only by calling on the name of Jesus Christ in faith can abduction attempts be halted altogether. CE-4 (at: http://www.alienresistance.com) tells the story of a new Christian who found himself being the object of an abduction attempt.

He was lying in bed, kept wide awake by the barking dogs, when paralysis set in. He was unable to cry out. He could see nothing but a whitish gray, like a mist or fog, although he sensed someone or something was in his room. His wife didn’t awaken. The next thing he knew, he was being levitated above his bed. He then had the sensation he was being suspended by what felt like a pole inserted into his rectum. By this time he was alive with terror, but he couldn’t scream.

 

“I thought I was having a satanic experience, that the devil had gotten a hold of me and had shoved a pole up my rectum and was holding me up in the air. So helpless, I couldn’t do anything. I said, ‘Jesus, Jesus, help me!’ or ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!’ When I did, there was a feeling or a sound or something that my words had hurt whatever it was holding me up in the air on this pole. And I felt like it was withdrawn and I fell. I hit the bed, because it was like I was thrown back in bed. My wife woke up and asked me why I was jumping on the bed.”

CE-4 has since uncovered thousands of similar experiences. Abductions can be permanently halted by one thing and one thing only: the name of Jesus. Now why would the name of a primitive holy man (which is what the aliens claim Jesus was) have any power whatsoever over super-advanced beings from other planets?

It should be pointed out that the name of Jesus alone, apart from faith on the part of the person calling on it, will not prevent abductions. There is a wonderful story in the New Testament (Acts 19:13–17) about some Jewish exorcists who tried to deliver a demon-possessed man by calling on the name of Jesus—but without embracing faith in Jesus for themselves. The demon-possessed man beat them up and sent them running.

This is another conclusive argument, it seems to me, in and of itself. The only thing that seems to have power against these malicious abductors is faith in the name of Jesus. A cursory look at the New Testament will reveal the same phenomenon. Wherever Jesus went, demons were banished. Today, in whatever heart Jesus lives, demons are absent. (Again, the CE-4 discussion of this is most revealing.) Later I discuss the similarities between alien abduction stories and demonic possession.

Like demons in the New Testament, aliens in the 21st century fear the name of Jesus.

Back to List of Arguments

 

Argument #3

THE LINK BETWEEN UFO ACTIVITY AND THE OCCULT

Just as there is a link between walk-the-walk Christians and the absence of UFO activity, so there is a link between those who experiment in the occult and the presence of UFO activity. Even the secular UFO literature comments that UFO abductees “tend to be unchurched” and often admit to occult practices.

What does it mean that those who explore the occult often have UFO experiences? Are these people more open-minded—or simply more open (to demonic attack)? There is a link between paranormal studies (such as satanism) and UFOs.

Michael Mannion, in his book, Project: Mindshift, says that people who report UFO contact—even only close encounters of the first kind (UFO sightings)—immediately begin to experience poltergeist-like activity and out of body experiences. UFO sighting = poltergeist/demonic activity.

Victims of satanic ritual abuse, child abuse, and split personalities are all prime candidates for UFO contact—as are the children of those who practice the occult. One distressed parent was told by an alien that “The children belong to us.” This is an especially disturbing fact. Innocent children of adults who engage in occult practices are essentially handed over to the demonic as playthings. Their right of choosing was taken from them by their parents.

The Apostle Paul wrote about the effect of having a walk-the-walk Christian in the family. First Corinthians 7:14 says, “The unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

In other words, the children of a believing parent are in some way shielded, under an umbrella of God’s protection. But what happens in households with no walk-the-walk Christian parents? “The children belong to us.” And that’s just in a spiritually neutral family (if there can be such a thing); imagine what might happen to the children of parents who dabble in the occult?

Pity these innocent children. Pray for these innocent children. Take down the devil’s strongholds concerning these children. This is spiritual warfare, folks, and children are always the casualties of war. The parents may have deeded them to the enemy, but Jesus Christ paid the ransom to set them free.

Here’s an interesting sidenote. Jesus twice encountered parents of demon-possessed children (Matthew 15:22–28, Mark 9:14–29). In both cases, He seemed especially agitated and almost rude to the parents. Could it be that He was angry that their idol worship had caused their own children to be handed over to demonic attack? In both cases, He presses the parents to make statements of radical faith in Him. Could that be because there must be a believing parent in the house to prevent the demons from returning (cf. Luke 11:24–26)?

New Age channelers often claim to speak for extraterrestrials. These hyper-advanced beings are supposedly able to make contact to earth through these human conduits. Now, I for one have always believed that channeling, if it is true at all, is purely demonic. What is it but some form of possession by a disembodied spirit? If these channeled entities say they are aliens from other worlds, then isn’t that a direct link between the demonic and the extraterrestrial realms? It’s amusing to me that the message these channeled aliens bring matches so well the message given to UFO contactees.

Perhaps it is more than convenience that has led your local bookstore to shelve all its UFO books alongside books on witchcraft, channeling, past lives, out of body experiences, and ghosts. Perhaps they are all variations of the same demonic power.

What does it mean that there is such a direct connection between UFOs and the occult? Why would there be a link between high-tech astronauts and spells cast beneath a full moon? What’s behind this correlation? Allow me to reflexively adopt The Church Lady’s voice for a moment: “Could it be… Satan?” Well, honey, maybe this time you’re finally right.

Back to List of Arguments

 

Argument #4

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL NATURE OF ALIEN ENCOUNTERS

There is something dreamlike about UFO sightings, alien encounters, and abduction attempts. Something not-quite-physical. Almost as if the whole thing is going on inside the observer’s head.

Have you ever had a mote floating around in your eye? As you watch that thing scoot around against a bright blue sky, don’t you almost think—just for a millisecond—that you’re seeing something far away, some wildly maneuverable craft skipping across the sky? When all the time it was much, much closer than you thought.

UFOs perform amazing, physics-defying maneuvers—making right angle turns or 180° switchbacks, materializing and dematerializing, changing colors and shape, merging and splitting. One possible explanation of how they do these is that they don’t do them at all.

What if these “craft” are really mental images overlayed onto real backgrounds? Like special effects in the movies, in which human characters are interacting with computer-inserted creatures, explosions—or even weather maps. The things interacted with aren’t really there, but they appear present to the viewer, and the illusion is convincing. You can’t believe anything you see anymore.

I’m not saying all UFO appearances are merely mental illusions, projections of some sort, but I believe many are. And I believe all of them have some psychological/illusory component. Some UFOs are captured on film, video, or radar. Some are witnessed by hundreds of people at once. And some leave fairly convincing physical evidence of their presence. So there may be some physical manifestation aspect to in these things, too. But have you ever noticed how blurry and indistinct eyewitness photos and videos are? Almost if the craft are not wholly there?

If UFOs are real, where is the solid evidence? If they’re crashing everywhere, surely some hillbilly’s got a Venutian dashboard in his cellar. Why doesn’t he bring it out? Where are the clear photos—that don’t turn out to be forgeries? Contactees talk about artifacts—magic books, golden disks, etc.—given to them by their space pals. But the specimens always have this curious impermanence. Almost like they’re not really all there, or something.

UFOs and abducting aliens often project images into the minds of targeted or abducted humans. These images are often of an erotic nature. But my question is this: If “aliens” can project erotic images into someone’s mind, why is it such a stretch to think they’re also projecting images of UFOs?

One characteristic of alien contact stories that is almost uniform is that the UFO or alien speaks to the contactee telepathically. Now, it may be that all the species of aliens that are allegedly visiting Earth have the same telepathic abilities (which seems doubtful)—or it may be that it’s not just the communication but the entire encounter that’s playing out in the contactee’s head.

Contactees regularly report a “connection” between themselves and the UFO. A person sees a UFO and can will it to come closer. As soon as the person sees it, it seems to see the person. Someone notices a UFO hanging over the neighborhood, but nobody else does. It’s almost as if it’s there for that person alone. His or her own exclusive close encounter. Pilots feel they are in a private game of tag with UFOs. One person sees a UFO and, by force of will, can cause it to “appear” for others.

Abductions also contain psychological elements. The “aliens” play with abductees’ minds, promising one thing then delivering another, or claiming to have imperative messages for mankind, then delivering nonsensical gibberish or absurd instructions. Abductees often feel psychologically manipulated and abused.

Another fishy aspect of abductions is the appearance of the inside of UFOs. They always appear different in size or shape from what could be possible, given the size of the UFO as seen from the outside. Just another evidence of the surreal, dreamlike quality of sightings.

I also like how the inside of these craft always appear in whatever form would seem high-tech to the abductee. The visitor to a UFO in the 1950s saw banks upon banks of magnetic tape drives. Modern abductees see flatscreens, projected 3D images, and lasers. Isn’t it amazing that aliens from all quadrants of the universe are advancing in their technology at exactly the same rate as Earthlings?

I think it’s amusing how UFOs and aliens always seem to appear in exactly the forms people expect them to. The “grays” and flying saucers are icons to us now. Funny that “aliens” always look “just like the ones on TV.” It’s almost as if these creatures can tap into that part of the brain that stores the bugaboo costumes and don the garb themselves. In other words, perhaps they look like what people expect them to look because they’re conjured up from inside the mind of the viewer.

One more thing. I said UFO encounters seem like dreams. What if they are? Very often the abductee is taken from his bed while his family sleeps. I have personally encountered UFOs and aliens in my dreams. Each time, I knew instantly that these were demonic. Thankfully, the Spirit of God within me prompted me to take decisive action. I found myself resisting the “aliens” in the name of Jesus—and they fled. Abductees often report UFO-related dreams in which they accept the invitation offered by the aliens. Soon after, they experience “real” contact or abductions.

I’m not saying these encounters aren’t real. I’m not even saying they are completely psychological. But I am suggesting there may be a significant hallucinatory component to these events. I believe the mind is a large part of (if not 90% of) the playing field for “close encounters.”
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Argument 5

THE RELIGIOUS NATURE OF THE ALIENS’ MESSAGE

If extraterrestrials crossed time and space to visit our insignificant blue planet, and if they bothered to initiate contact with the inhabitants at all, instead than just obliterating us or studying us from hiding, what might we expect them to tell us?

The only reason I could see for peaceful ETs to initiate contact would be to give us some dire message. Maybe it’s: “Our homeworld is dying and in need of X from Earth,” or “Your planet is dying and in need of X from us,” or “Bad guys are coming and you need to do X,” or “Your sun is about to explode so you’d better do X,” or “We’re turning this planet into an intergalactic highway, so you’d better X.”

Indeed, that is what aliens have told contactees. “You’re in danger of destroying your planet because of X” (nuclear testing or environmental disregard are the usual suspects) or “Your planet is going to be destroyed by X” (a rogue planet entering your system, or the so-called Galactic Federation).

But if these ETs were really our buddies from beyond, wouldn’t we expect them to help us with our problems? “You need to get off your planet before X happens, so here’s the plans (or better, the keys) to a big spaceship and here’s the map to a home we’ve scouted out for you.” Or “You’re in danger of destroying yourselves by killing your planet—so here’s how to rebuild the ozone layer and here’s free energy to eliminate fossil fuel pollution.” Or “You’re going to destroy each other, so we’ve deactivated all your weapons, given you the cure to cancer, and built you some outposts on other worlds.”

In other words, if there really were some impending danger, as they say there is, wouldn’t they offer to help us? It’s all well and good to tell someone his house is on fire, but if you stand by and let it burn, how friendly are you, really?

But instead of practical, scientific, or medical assistance, what do these space buddies give us? Eastern theology. Here’s a sampling. (For a fuller dose of the “alien” message, click here.)

“Gaia [Mother Earth] is not happy with you. She is going to go into great travail soon as she purges herself of the toxins you have poured out upon her.”

“You will find that all your religions are false, based on a controlling, cold-hearted, patriarchal movement, when in actuality it is the mother goddess who is behind all things.”

“Sin is an archaic concept developed by the patriarchal religious systems to place man in bondage and guilt.”

The aliens seem especially hostile to Christianity, except when it’s seen as just another path to the divine. When it’s held out as the only true way, it is bitterly opposed. Sounds more like our world’s philosophy than another world’s.

The aliens are especially careful to trivialize Jesus Christ. He was just an alien, they say. Or he was a hybrid offspring between a human woman and an alien. Or he was one of their agents, right alongside Buddha, Muhammad, and Confucius. “And why do you need him anyway,” they wonder, “when we can do everything he could?”

Funny, but it reminds me of a Scripture. “Many will come in my name, saying ‘I am He.’ Do not believe them.”

It amuses me when the aliens—either in “person” or through their wealthy channelers—defend the devil, whom they like to refer to as Lucifer, as just a misunderstood extraterrestrial. It’s all a big misunderstanding, they say. Lucifer’s a great guy. He’s right here, I can introduce you to him if you’d like.

What do you call someone who minimizes Jesus and maximizes Satan?

Author Chuck Missler, in his book, Alien Encounters, poses the riddle this way: “Why would all these hordes of E.T.s cross time and space simply to teach New Age philosophy, deny Christianity, and support the occult?”

Good question, Chuck.

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Argument #6

THE FIENDISH CHARACTER OF ALIEN AND UFO BEHAVIOR

There’s just something devilish about so many UFO and alien contact stories. You’ve got the UFOs playing tag with aircraft—like cute little imps. You’;ve got babies stolen from their cribs—just like medieval goblins used to do. You’ve got trickster aliens who even the military admits “have a tendency to lie.” You’ve got sexual alien encounters like the succubus/incubus stories from the Middle Ages. And you’ve got the sadistic, one might even say fiendish, aliens with their sadistic exploratory surgeries.

I admit this is not a conclusive argument in and of itself. But I do think it’s supporting evidence that these beings, whatever they are, fit the description of what we would call demons. Even the “aliens” themselves admit that people in ages past used to call them devils, goblins, trolls, and demons. My, weren’t people delightfully primitive back then? But couldn’t it be that people called them demons back then not because of their provinciality, but because that’s what these beings really were (and are)?

Take the free will barrier to abductions, for example. In the typical abduction case, the person sees the UFO and understands (usually through a telepathic message) that the UFO occupants are beckoning to him. He has to grant permission, assent, or obedience before the abduction can begin.

Now, why in the world would aliens need to ask permission? If they look upon us as animals, why not tranquilize us, tag us, do their research, and let us go? Why ask permission? And if they see us as equals, or as children (as they claim), why do so many abductees feel tricked, humiliated, abused, and terrorized by their “space parents”? And why would they ask permission of all they were only going to do was terrorize their subjects?

Could it be that God has granted His children a gift that even the powers of hell cannot readily defeat? Could it be that free will, which many believe is “the image of God” spoken of in Genesis, poses a barrier to demonic forces?

I also get tickled by the contrived nature of so many UFO sightings. Jim Bob’s driving home in his pickup on dirt road 121 and he sees strange lights in the sky. He’s mighty curious, but he loses sight of them. Then he turns a corner and, boom, there’s a bonafide UFO, sitting right there on the road—with an alien with his head under the hood. Hmm, who’s hunting for whom? I don’t know, but to me that just sounds like the work of someone with a fiendish sense of humor.

Why does UFO activity pick up at night? Are aliens late sleepers? One possible explanation would be that these are creatures of the night who love the cover of darkness because their deeds are dark. Just seems a tad dishonest and underhanded for such fine, upstanding ETs.

Then you’ve got all those perverse abduction stories. I won’t go into them here, but believe me, they’re depraved. And what about those animal mutilations? Somebody’s doing some pretty sick stuff out there. Someone with some evil appetites.

Some of the lies told abductees are straight out of hell. Many are told that they agreed to being abused and experimented on and humiliated “in a pre-life agreement.” They are told that they agreed to all this before, they just don’t remember. Hello, anybody but me think this smells like a rat (or should I say a Serpent)?

Abductees often suffer various ailments that defy diagnosis, and many die young. Such was the fate of many demoniacs in the New Testament and antiquity. What a coincidence.

What would it be like to be in the presence of a demon? It is interesting to note that many contactees, when they first see an “alien,” feel revulsion and intense hostility. Those Christians who have seen UFOs or aliens (often in dreams) know exactly what they’re looking at: demons. There is an inner instinct to flee from (or cast out) these cosmic cuddlies. Fear and loathing in America.

John 10:1 rings true here: “He who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.” It carries the idea of trickery and deceit. John 10:2 says, “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.” Jesus came in broad daylight, “aliens” prefer cover of night. Maybe they are creatures of the night.

Here’s the kicker. I was at my local Barnes & Noble and I saw a book called Hostage to the Devil, on modern demonic possession and exorcism. I was reading one poor guy’s story and I happened on the page on which he described what his “familiar”demon looked like. Guess who it was? None other than our friendly “gray” alien. He didn’t call it that, of course, but the pertinent features were all there: short stature, gray skin, gangly legs and arms, oversized head with too-large black eyes.

Maybe one man’s alien is another man’s demon.

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Argument #7

THE INTERDIMENSIONAL NATURE OF UFOS AND ALIENS

Quantum physicists theorize that there are at least ten dimensions—several beyond the few we know of. It has been suggested by some UFO researchers (so-called ufologists) that UFOs and aliens may be from another dimension, rather than another planet in our own dimension.

Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek series and UFO enthusiast, sought to demonstrate aliens as interdimensional beings. The beings inhabiting the wormhole in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are the result.

If aliens and UFOs were interdimensional, it would seem to solve some of the oldest problems in explaining them. They can appear and disappear at will because they’re just jumping between our dimension and their own. Their craft can defy physics because they’re not wholly in our dimension. They can change shape in mid-flight because they’re not fully corporeal. It would also solve the problem of how these tiny craft and seemingly frail aliens could cross the vast reaches of the cosmos—they’re not, they’re just blipping to our universe as easily as hitting the “recall” button on your TV remote. Some of the most promising secular research in ufology is coming from the interdimensional theory.

But let’s think about that. What are demons but interdimensional beings? They’re not wholly of this universe. They originate from and live in a higher dimension, one above ours, in a realm we would call spiritual. Secular researchers like to talk about metaphysical, interdimensional beings. But what exactly is the difference between a metaphysical being and a spiritual being? And if we conclude that aliens are truly spiritual beings, why is it such a stretch to say they’re demons? Especially when the “aliens” themselves agree that many people identify them as demons.

Let me take a moment to speak on why I don’t think aliens are angels. Some people wish to resolve the UFO dilemma by saying that aliens are angels, that Moses received the ten commandments from a UFO (no wonder his hair turned white—radiation exposure, of course), and Elijah was whisked away in an angelically piloted UFO.

I don’t believe aliens are angels for one main reason: aliens call attention to themselves. Angels never do. They always immediately point people to the God of heaven. Aliens, on the other hand, never refer to God or Jesus—except to minimize Him or claim to be Him, of course. Aliens seem to love attention, and if you grovel a bit at their, um, cloven hooves, they wouldn’t stop you. If we say that aliens are spiritual beings, we cannot say they are angels. If we rule out angels, the list of remaining alternatives is pretty short.

“Whatever the aliens are, they are a lot weirder and sneakier than we thought,” says Mannion in Project: Mindshift. “Maybe the aliens don’t come from anywhere we would call another planet or star. Maybe they come from much more exotic places than that.”

Here’s a strange mini-theory I’ll throw in for free. One speculation about what crop circles are is that they relate to music—specifically that they are symbols relating to the diatonic scale. Someone decided to test this theory. He went to a recent crop circle and played music on the diatonic scale. Suddenly, as if summoned, a UFO appeared above the crop circle.

Hold on, I’m not half through. One famous crop circle in England was identified as the precise depiction of a glyph in the Kabala (Jewish mysticism)—the glyph that supposedly activates the portal between this dimension and the next. It is, according to the Kabala, “the symbol that activates the process through which the ‘divine’ becomes manifest.”

What if crop circles are portals between the spiritual realm and the physical realm? What if music somehow triggers these portals? (I’m reminded of so many biblical accounts of spiritual intrusions into our realm—good and bad&mdasah;that are accompanied by the blast of a trumpet.)

Revelation seems to depict a time in which the barrier between the spiritual and physical dimensions is no more. Demons, beasts, and even the devil himself are said to walk the earth alongside humans. Could it be that this is what we are seeing now with UFOs?

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Argument #8

THE FOCUS, IN ABDUCTIONS, ON EXTRACTING TERROR

I have really wrestled with the issue of alien abductions. Sister issues such as animal mutilations and the alleged hybridization program, in which aliens are supposedly abducting humans to create a race of alien/human offspring, have contributed to the confusion. I’ve come up with over 25 possible explanations for the purpose of these activities—everything from “They’re trying to save their dying race” to “They’re rebellious teenage extraterrestrials preying on humans just because they can.”

But in the end, everything kept coming back to terror—the abject horror these abductions exact from abductees.

True, alien surgeons may need to stick six-inch-long needles into abductees’ eyes for research purposes—but it seems more dramatic than scientific. They may really need to shove tiny implants high into abductees’ noses and ears, rupturing membranes—or it may simply be torture.

While other aspects of UFO technology seem to advance with man’s advances, the “medical” practices of abducting aliens seem stuck in the Nazi operating rooms of Josef Mengele. If these aliens are so advanced, why is their medical technology so primitive? And if this is all about genetic research, why do they need to be so invasive when even laymen know that if you want genetic material, all you need is a cheek swab?

Why do abductees report other nightmarish phenomena: preborn “grays” gestating in vats of blood and body parts; depraved sexual encounters (including bestiality); supposed impregnation and fetal harvesting; piercing, cutting, and burning; and threatened or simulated genital mutilation?

In all ways imaginable—through every orifice, in every area of free will—abductees are invaded. (I am again struck by how similar this is to demonic aggression as recorded in Hostage to the Devil.) Abductees are lied to, abused, humiliated, ridiculed, tortured, and threatened by cute, little E.T. And the abuse seems tailor-made to the abductee. It is almost as if these “aliens” can tap into a person’s subconscious and pick out the images and actions that would achieve the maximum terror.

It’s a nightmare.

Remote viewers are individuals who use a form of astral projection to “see” the world. I do not believe this practice is in any way justifiable from a Christian standpoint. However, in my research I read one remote viewer’s account that has stuck with me. He was viewing an alien abduction in process and he observed how the aliens seemed to thrive on the terror exacted from the victims. “The disembodied visitors [watching the abduction like audience members] feed on fear. It’s like food to them.”

It occurred to me that Jesus said He had food which the disciples knew nothing about (John 4:32). Invisible sustenance that came to Him when He did the will of His Father. What if demons—I mean aliens—require spiritual food, too? And what if their food is doing the will of their father? Lying, destroying, stealing—and terrorizing.

I do not believe there is any such thing as a hybridization program. Nor do I believe aliens are doing research on humans—to upgrade us or them, to save anyone, or to study anything. I’ll even go so far as to say I don’t believe animal mutilations have any nutritional or scientific purpose for the aliens, as some say.

I believe the whole thing is about terror. I believe “aliens” exalt themselves as gods over their victims, exacting suffering, humiliation, hate—and especially fear—because they revel in it. It is sustenance, even a delicacy, to them. Animals may be mutilated simply because they can provide “edible panic” almost as well as humans can.

What kind of extraterrestrial astronaut would cause this kind of suffering in a lesser species? And don’t give the reason that they just don’t know they’re frightening or harming humans. Baloney. How could these beings who can communicate so intimately and subtly with a targeted human suddenly lose all sense of what’s happening in that same person’s mind after he’s in the spaceship?

I think they’re very aware of—one might almost say intoxicated with—the horror in the victims’ minds.

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OTHER ARGUMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS

The following comments are garnered from my study. They don’t really fit under any of my previous headings, so I’ve just included them here in a loose grab-bag of secondary evidence. None of them is conclusive by itself. Taken with the arguments above, however, I feel they put a very nice icing on the cake.

  • There is a commonality to encounter stories that strikes me as odd. If there were thousands of extraterrestrial species visiting earth, as some claim, we would expect some variety. But contact stories seem to follow the same formula. Almost as if the “many” alien species contacting us were just one.
  • The uneven technology of the aliens. They can build spaceships that traverse the universe and defy modern physics—but their medical technology is barely on a par with humans—if not a little behind. If they’ve given us integrated circuitry, lasers, and modern genetics (as some claim), why do they seem so clumsy and dumb in their “experiments”?
  • If demons wanted to deceive modern man, they couldn’t appear as red-skinned, pointy-tailed, horned devils with pitchforks. What better way to appeal to 21st century man than as high-tech beings in touch with their spiritual selves?
  • Even the secular books admit the recent malevolent shift in abduction stories. The kindly space brothers offering enlightenment have been replaced by aggressive kidnappers who ambush people, lie to them, torture them, rape them, terrorize them, brainwash them, then dump them out.
  • Aliens appear in the form of various animals or insects: reptiles, birds, preying mantises, etc. Funny how so many ancient gods/idols were in these forms. Have these beings, whatever they are, really changed so much since ancient times? By the way, the Apostle Paul called all gods and idols demons. So, if aliens are these same beings that were worshipped as gods in ancient times…
  • These aliens are capable of great wonders, such as levitation, paralysis, telepathy, unusual knowledge, healing and wounding, lights in the sky, multilinguality. They could easily pass themselves off as gods. Many deceiving miracles.
  • Contactees sometimes behave in bizarre, demonic ways: dancing around the room, crying helplessly, laughing uncontrollably.
  • The absence of any reference, on the part of the aliens, to any master or lord. If these are beings from another planet, then surely they have some authority hierarchy. Just like demons in the NT, aliens admit to no one over them. We get vague references to the Galactic Federation, but this is portrayed as a great brotherhood, not any kind of hierarchical system.
  • Animal mutilations have a ritualistic character to them. When a shaman performs fertility rites, for instance, it often calls for animal genetalia. And then there’s the link to witchcraft, whose spells often require eye of newt and the like.
  • There seems to be a connection between UFO activity and seismic, volcanic, and geologic activity. UFOs are said to be “caused” by earthquakes, giving rise to the idea that they are some kind of light refractions caused by the tectonic strain. Another explanation would be that the abyss is being opened and demons are leaking out.
  • Do motors really lose power when UFOs are near? Do tape decks really slow down? Or is it all a perception caused by “aliens” tinkering around inside the person’s head?
  • One remote viewer said there is a war going on from long ago between two factions of the same group. One faction wants to exploit the earth and live here. The other wants to protect the earth for us. The first side wants to live here, supposedly “to survive.” Another source said the aliens viewed the earth and perhaps some or all of those living on it as “a great prize.” Sounds like a war in heaven to me.
  • The next thing on the aliens’ cosmic daytimer is a great cataclysm, followed by a radical shift in human/alien interaction. The cataclysm may be environmental, it may be a faux war between alien species, or it may be the result of a rogue planet passing through our solar system. The point is, something big is supposedly coming, and it’s going to initiate a new era on the earth. Funny, that’s what Revelation says, too.
  • We seem to be besieged by an allied onslaught of evil: paganism, witchcraft, New Age, aliens, channelers, spirit guides, ascended masters. The power of darkness is swelling—just as there was an outbreak of demonic activity on the eve of Jesus’ ministry. Hmm.

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THE ALIEN MESSAGE

These “aliens” have a very curious message for mankind. Behind the New Age rhetoric and Eastern mysticism, beyond the denials of Christ and aggression against Christians, and beneath the radical feminism and belief in the innate goodness of man, perhaps you can detect—as I do—the silky voice of that ancient dragon.

“You are polluting your world.” Environmentalism is a frequent theme in these messages. “Not only are you destroying your own world, but space itself. The Galactic Federation”—an oft-mentioned group of superevolved beings—”is about ready to destroy you. If you want to survive, you must do as we say.”

What they say, however, is usually two parts lame environmentalism, two parts New Age humanism (“we will help you realize your godhood”), and one part absurdity (“bring back two chicken heads tomorrow”).

Sometimes the aliens talk about two or more groups of aliens locked in battle. The bad guys (sometimes called Luciferians) and the good guys—whoever happens to be speaking. “Do what we say and we’ll save you.”

A common element in messages to abductees is that they have been specially chosen for some epic task. Usually they are told they have been selected to be ambassadors to earth. When the time comes, they are told, they will play a large part in the New Order.

I like how these chosen ones feel as if they are an alien “elect.” They have been chosen out of the world for a special task. They are not ordinary citizens of Earth anymore, but ambassadors with a high calling. Anti-Christians. Appropriate if they serve the Anti—oh, I won’t go there just yet.

The New Order is a very important part of the alien message. It is often spoken of as what will happen after The Change. The Change is the next big thing on the “aliens'” agenda. They always say that they are just about to make a big move, so be ready. They will soon reveal themselves openly and pursue massive integration with humans. There are various explanations for why they are going to do all this, but it is invariably described as a good thing for Earthlings—the crucial event in our evolution to the next order of being (usually described as near-divinity).

The thing that stands in the way of the New Order is a group of “backwards thinking, patriarchal, archaic, oppressive conservatives”—otherwise known as walk-the-walk Christians. These people, the aliens say, are the “dark forces” that hinder mankind’s evolutionary shift. They must be opposed, voted down, and if necessary overthrown.

To this end, the aliens have proposed a solution. At the appointed time, the motherships will lock onto all these agents of oppression and lift them out into space via tractor beams. They will then be taken to another planet for “reeducation.” “Do not be sad for them,” the aliens’ disciples are told, “for they are going to a better place. And do not be alarmed that they have gone and you have not, because now we can really get some things done.”

I personally think this is this most ingenious deception I’ve ever heard. Do you realize what they’ve done? They’ve pre-denied the Rapture! When God raptures the Church, those “left behind” will believe the space pals did it. They’re pre-deceived! If you can’t prevent your enemy from doing something, try to spin it so it ends up helping your cause. I think it’s brilliant.

A commonplace element of the aliens’ message is that Jesus Christ was not the unique Son of God. They always ascribe some distinctiveness to Him, but it’s usually like this: “Jesus was an extraterrestrial, an ascended master, just like us. In fact, I was Jesus in another life. My brother over there was Muhammad.”

The New Age Jesus is a lot different from the Jesus of the New Testament. He’s much broader and tolerant. He says’as one remote viewer apparently heard Jesus say when he spoke to Him (yuk yuk)—that there are many paths to God. (Excuse me? John 14:6.)

The Jesus preached by the aliens (which is, coincidentally, indistinguishable from the Jesus of the New Agers) “came to teach love and nonviolence.” Oh, really? Nonviolence, you say? The Lion of Judah who cleansed the Temple with a whip and said He came to bring a sword to families? Maybe you have Him confused with Gandhi. He never advocated violence, of course (“If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword”), but one could hardly characterize nonviolence as one of His primary teachings. But the outer space Jesus has to be emasculated.

Again, why should extraterrestrials be so interested in—obsessed with, one might say—Jesus? If Jesus were only a man, and if these beings truly came from outer space, they would spend no more time talking about him than they would about Douglas Hinkle. (Yes, I made him up.) Maybe they know He was more than a mere man.

“You are all part of God,” the aliens say. “You’ve only forgotten. Follow us into our little UFO and we’ll remind you”—and impale you on a spit while we’re at it.

Here’s one of my favorites. The aliens claim they created mankind. They genetically bred us as an offshoot of the ape. And they’ve been coming back over the millennia to make “genetic corrections.” There have been sixty-five of these corrections and there will likely be sixty-five more. That’s why they have to abduct people—to upgrade them genetically. (Oh, thanks for the explanation. I was wondering about that.)

One story has it that humans are just containers. The Heaven’s Gate people said we were “plants.” The spirits of aliens inhabit these container-plants from time to time. That explains Jesus, Buddha, and the rest of the gang. Religion, they say, was created by them to provide rules of nonviolence so that the containers wouldn’t be destroyed. (Guess they blew the nonviolence part with Islam, huh?)

(And isn’t it interesting that major non-Christian religions or cults have been originated by a spiritual visitor, claming to be from God, giving a man “new truth”? Both Islam and Mormonism began this way.)

Ooh, here’s one straight from the Pit. I’ve referred to it earlier, but it’s just too juicy not to repeat. “Abductees are not taken against their will,” aliens say. “You see, in a pre-life agreement, they freely deeded to us the right to do with them as we will. They are ours. It’s all legal and binding. They’ve just forgotten.”

The tragedy is that abductees buy this garbage. Like Jewish victims of Nazi experimentation, they can even come to defend and identify with their torturers. It has to be a way of staying sane when faced with an unthinkable horror that has no foreseeable end.

When The Change comes, things will be great. “We will create harmony, eliminate crime, restore Mother Earth’s ecological balance, and banish disease and poverty. We will set up an evolved form of world government and instruct you in the true religion of the cosmos. You will be inducted into the Galactic Federation and become one with the universe.” (Hey, who could vote against that? Sounds like Gene Roddenberry’s concept of the future, doesn’t it?)

“Gaia,” the mother goddess, also known as Earth or Mother Nature, “is not happy with her children. The turmoil you see around you is Gaia ridding herself of the toxins in her system. She is going to go into great travail soon. But in the end, when the dark forces have been purged, all will be well.”

Phew, that’s a relief. For a minute there I thought the God of the Bible was pouring out bowls of wrath on mankind. Boy, am I glad to learn He’s a She, and things will turn out right for everybody in the end.

“You will find that all your religions are false, based on a controlling, cold-hearted, patriarchal movement, when in actuality it is the mother goddess who is behind all things.” (Gee, why is it that New Age religions are so popular with feminists, I wonder?)

“Sin is an archaic concept developed by the patriarchal religious systems to place man in bondage and guilt.” (I’m glad to find out sin doesn’t exist. Too bad Jesus went to the cross before He figured that one out. Think I’m gonna go party.)

I love this one: “Lucifer is not evil at all. He is misunderstood. He is an extraterrestrial, like us, but of wondrous power. He comes to give us the final gift of wholeness.” (This is a direct quote, I kid you not.)

In my opinion, these “aliens” have revealed their demonic origins just by opening their mouths. It’s like the old joke about drug addicts: How do you know an alien is lying? His lips are moving. (Oops, guess they don’t move their lips if they communicate telepathically. Just have to listen to what they communicate, I suppose.)

Don’t know about you, but I think I’m getting an earful from the father of lies.

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CONCLUSION: WHAT CAN I DO?

So how does it sit with you now? Are you convinced? Have I made a compelling case? In my arguments I’m not saying that UFO phenomena are not real—indeed, I believe they’re very real. Nor am I saying they are purely spiritual in nature. There seem to be signs that there is a physical component involved in many of these encounters. It may be that these being can manifest themselves physically for a time or that they can give some kind of temporary reality to objects or forms. Revelation predicts a time when demonic beasts step upon the earth’s stage and the whole world sees them, so there will be some corporeal aspect to them.

What I am trying to do is outline what I believe is the only hypothesis that adequately explicates the major mysteries of the UFO phenomenon.

And if I’m right, then the End Times will have an unexpectedly extraterrestrial flavor to them. Perhaps the Antichrist will be an alien—or an alien/human hybrid. It would make sense that the devil’s false Christ would also be sired by a spirit but borne by a human woman. There will also be the anti-resurrection (Revelation 13:3,12). There will be an anti-John the Baptist: the false prophet. There will be the anti-Elect: those “ambassadors” chosen by aliens during abductions. One wonders if there will even be anti-disciples: twelve men (more likely twelve radical feminists and militant homosexuals) who help the Antichrist do his damage.

We have been set up. The greatest deception this side of Eden is about to be foisted on mankind—actually, it’s already been deployed. Michael Mannion’s conclusion, in his book Project: Mindshift, is that we are perfectly prepared for a mass religious-like conversion to UFO faith. We are ready. Nothing is missing. All we’re waiting for is for the curtain to lift. All we need now, Mannion says, is a major, undeniable UFO sighting. Mankind is ready to embrace the space pals and plead with them to give us “the final gift of wholeness.”

What can Christians do about this? If you’re convinced UFO activity is demonic, what can you do? First, remember to be calm and sane about all this. If you go up to someone ranting about demons in spaceships, they’ll turn you off quicker than you can say “E.T. phone home.” So sound reasonable. Don’t let this become your soapbox. If you’re going to be an evangelist for anything, let it be for Jesus Christ, not UFO awareness.

Second, spread the word. If you are reading this, I believe it is because God has led you to it. Just as I believe God led me to this conclusion in the first place. If and when the great deception comes and the UFOs fill the skies and the alien leader shakes hands with the President, you will be able to see through to the truth. So, gently offer to give your opinion on this matter to other Christians when it seems appropriate. Always be willing to persuade another believer—but never be aggressive about it.

Third, pray. Pray for discernment. Pray for Jesus’ fast return (even knowing the Rapture will be misinterpreted). And pray for your own spiritual well-being. When this deception comes, I believe it will come hard. The first days, weeks, and months will be very hard for walk-the-walk Christians if Jesus tarries. Many will simply “disappear.” You will be persecuted beyond belief—because what will these “aliens” do but declare Christianity false, and not only false, but dangerous?

Thank you for considering this document. Feel free to link to it or otherwise refer people to it.

Testimony #2

Coming to Christ for me was like the pang of child birth, and I guess you could say I was literally born again in the hospital.

Where to start? I was a happy child, however growing up I matured at a young age and was interested in girls, but I did not know the ways of the world and these girls ended up rejecting me making me take on the spirit of depression.

From probably about 13 on I was depressed, my goal in life was to be an artist, and my parents dabbled with the idea of going to Church, but I thought it would be a boring waste of a Sunday and why bother.

I struggled in life, and when I struggled I believed in God I just did not know the true nature of God. I looked for God in all the wrong places, mainly the internet. I had my own theory of God and the way the universe works, that our souls were infinite and eternal and that God was there to guide the soul to growth, and I essentially ignored the problem of evil and what God’s plan was regarding that. I became a love and light New Ager and took my “theology” from the internet personalities like David Wilcock, who teaches the universe is divine and that we all have a purpose, things that sounded good to me, and I still believe we all fulfill a divine purpose.

Little did I realize I was on a dangerous path, and my deep depression was also causing irreversible damage to my brain. I ended up working in life as a computer scientist because I understood computers better than people, and I liked to play with computers. What made me believe in Christ was the following conversation I had with Christ throughout my life.

The first time I read the bible was at 17 years old and while I kind of believed what I was reading at the time about Christ,  I was afraid to tell my parents about him and I prayed to Jesus to show me if I was good or evil, I prayed fully in tears. Then I forgot about Jesus and got married to my first wife. She was adulterous and the reason she came out about it to me was because of a Christian sermon we went to where she felt guilty and spilled the beans about it. I forgave her but she didn’t get the real message, so she did it again and I finally got divorced to her.

During that time I was together with her God put some Christians in my life path, which looking back at it were instrumental to being saved. One of  them was while I was randomly traveling with my first wife, and he prayed for me. Another was a math professor at my university, and he said something I remember. He said he saw a Christian student and he asked him why he believed, and the Christian student said he believed but the math professor would just out-smart him in challenging his faith, just proving he is smarter and not necessarily proving or disproving the existence of God. This lead the math teacher to a path of salvation of his own and he became very in love with God, which puzzled me because I didn’t think Christians were very intelligent at the time, I guess the caricature on TV got to my head too much where Christians can tend to take genesis a little bit too literally and not as a metaphorical creation story describing mans relationship with God.

I remember picking up the bible once and reading that Jesus came for the sick and those in need of healing, and my thought was “I am not sick and in no need of healing,” and so I put the bible back down again. Later I think Jesus triggered my illness to prove me wrong on this accord, and while I was in the hospital I realized that everyone is sick to one degree or another, it’s just the REALLY sick ones that we notice as a society and shy away from.

These are stories in my life that didn’t necessarily lead to my salvation. I became very enamored in the New Age cult of love and light and this lead me to believe that a person that I would love very much would appear to me, if I only had faith and followed certain steps, such as going downstairs in my building and putting my hands/head against the wall until something happened. The “something” that happened was somebody calling the ambulance for me, which was my first hospitalization. I still say to this day that it was a voluntary hospitalization, but God did something to my brain. He was making sure I actually had some faith to see if I would be able to be saved and put on a different life path without me becoming wicked and mocking Christians too much which I did for a short time watching DarkMatter2525’s youtube videos.  Anyway…

My first hospitalization was a bizarre experience and I felt like they were re-enacting the first chapters of the bible at the hospital, and at the time I thought I was a healer/God and I tried to rewrite the rules of creation. I overheard a conversation in the hospital about someone uploading a virus into creation that caused humans to become human and fall from grace, which I guess was the heavenly realm humanity first came from. There were mentally ill people there and the hospital was trying to diagnose me as a drug user even though my tests came out clean, later they diagnosed me bipolar. This hospitalization was winter solstice 2011. The theme of my first hospitalization was “if there is a will, there is a way.” I just didn’t know who’s will and what way.

I was in a bipolar support group shortly after my 2011 hospitalization, where I would eventually meet my future girl friend [now my ex] so in a way it was true that I would find a girl through my hospitalization, it just wasn’t instantaneous and it took until about 2015.

My second hospitalization was Spring 2013. This time I began to act weird around my family and believed I had the power to free my family from machines from the future. This time in the hospital I met someone who was special and told them we were going to take over the universe together. For better that relationship never worked out. She told me some bizarre things like random people missed me and that she was worried about her daughter Emma.

My third hospitalization was the freakiest hospitalization event ever. I went in because I wasn’t able to sleep for a couple of days and maybe went through some hallucinations. It was in October of 2015, right before Halloween. They slowly sneaked me through the hospital and I got weird messages from people in the hospital. One was that the love you feel in your heart is all that matters, this is what a priest said to a man who thought I was going to steal his girl friend Amanda? I’m not sure. Then I was attacked in the hospital when they said  a witches prayer over me and I saw through the dimensional veil and saw little imp like creature with it’s finger over its mouth wanting me to be hushed. I was so mesmerized by this that I kept quiet and confused. Then I was taken to my room and I had a strong feeling that people were going to try and kill me, and I became very afraid and would have almost jumped out the window if I was able to. In the hospital there was a mean staff member who called me “man child of God” and told me I wasn’t welcome there and I thought was trying to kill me somehow and I was hissing and screaming when I thought he was trying to kill me, and I heard an old women’s voice in my head saying that me that her and me have my life down to the last second in essence proving God’s existence without God revealing himself, and that I was considered a true son of God, that Jesus’s death caused evil to win for all time on this side of eternity, but on the other side where God is I’m guessing it means Good wins for all time and that God has great plans for us humans. [Note: I now realize the voice in my head actually made no sense]. Then, in the hospital, I could feel the spirit of Jesus as I was sitting with my visiting parents, and my parents said “What are you thinking/what’s wrong?”, then I admitted, “Jesus is Lord.” Nevertheless this confused them at the time.

The third hospitalization to me proved God’s existence and I decided to take the introductory bridge course [think Alpha Course] at my church, because I wanted to be baptized. I learned about God, hell, and sin for the first time in a long time, and began making friends with Christians. And yes, I finally got baptized.

One night I said a prayer for God to reveal how he thought about me, and God took me down to the devil’s realm and I heard the words “hedonite isrealite.” Now I know it’s the devils job to kind of make us look bad and I guess this is the worst he had on me. [Note: Now that I think about it, I think God wanted to show me that the devil had nothing on me, now that I was saved.] This is kind of a both good and bad mixed message for me, the devil considers me a pleasure seeking Israelite, which is odd because I am not from Israel but I might just be God’s adopted son or a true son of God and so God is considering me an Israelite through this adoption.  I found out about the bridge (intro) course at my Church due to my girlfriend at the time. That’s the story of how I found Christ, or maybe he found me. Whatever it was, I am forever thankful for Christ to revealing himself to me and proving his existence to me so that I may be a thankful follower.

 

Testimony #1

Thought I would post this again, in the hope that sharing my journey and doubts might help others…. I’m in my 40’s and have come to Jesus in the last 18 months, and I had a strange string of coincidences, and one almost concrete supernatural event. First of all, I was at real low point, my wife and kids were in another country, and I was living in two countries due to work, plus financial worries etc, plus I was so depressed as I’d gone out the night before for a work colleagues birthday and had a hangover. I was like, I’m poor, I can’t afford to be in the same country as my family, and I’m too old to have hangover (especially as I don’t normally drink anyway) so I simply asked the sky the following… ‘god, are you real, cause if you are, I could do with some help. And btw, which one are you?’ Over the next few months, the following things happened. I had a dream in which I knew with absolute certainty Jesus was who he claimed to be, and I had this incredible feeling of peace, and I remember thinking these two sentences ‘there is nothing to worry about’ and ‘everything is going to be all right’. In 40 years, awake or asleep, I’ve never had a sensation like it, and don’t have the words to truly describe it. I put it down to a strange dream, but did wonder if it was more. I turn up to work and my colleague who is finishing the night shift is in tears. We’ve never talked about God before,plus she was new in our department. She tells me she had a dream, and in it her grandmother was with Jesus, and he tells her it’s her chance to say goodbye. She was agnostic at the time, but her grandmother christian. She calls home (from work) and tells her mother about the dream (I’m listening to the conversation). Her mother tells her that granny is in the lounge drinking tea, and is absolutely fine. She tells mum she is driving to see them anyway (3h drive) and when she arrives, grandmother has died unexpectedly. This shook me up when I found out all the details later, as I witnessed the call home the morning of the dream. I start to pray, but notice that all I ever do is moan about things and ask for help all the time. So I said this ‘god, all I ever do is moan. I don’t think I appreciate what I have. Is there someone I can help nearby?’ 3 days later an email from a woman arrives, asking for help with her husband who has terminal cancer and she need someone to sit with him for an afternoon, as she needs a break. It turns out she contacted the local church, one I’d only gone to once, ever, and they had my email and contacted me (along with other church members). Naturally I agreed to help. I saw my faults. This could have simply been early onset midlife crisis, but I saw how my attitude and ways were hurtful to others. I also so the things I’d done in my younger day, and how that would have hurt people. I also saw how my attitude was harming my marriage. As a result I made changes, and things got better, and the things my wife used to do to annoy me got better. I discovered that we can’t change other people, but we can change ourselves for the better, and by doing so, those around you change for the better. I’m beginning to understand what ‘born again’ means. I used to think it just meant someone who chose Jesus later in life, instead of being born into it. But now I see it’s a matter of changing the way you see the world, and changing your heart. Anyway, that’s what happened to me since I asked God for help. Yet I still have doubts. But despite my doubts, I’m choosing to follow Jesus, and continue to get to know him.