THOUGHTS & COMMENTS
"No he didn't, Marge. He said distinctly that it was going to be wet and miserable. Not a good day at all to paint the garage, but a great day for me to go with the guys bowling, don't you think?"
The Bible is certainly a good example of this rule. For instance, is it all grace and no works? Or is it works and no (or only partial) Grace?
If you desire to serve God, you will read "Works" all through the Bible. In fact, the more your heart is inclined to serve the Lord, the more indisputable references to Work you will find.
But if you are inclined to have God serve you, you will find a myriad of Scripture that will seem to clearly back up your stance. And to be sure, you will find a multitude of preachers and theological writings to support your view.
The next time you see that person (perhaps it's the next week), they have gained five pounds and have another program they are just as, if not more so, convinced on and enthusiastic over.
Or perhaps it's not diet or exercise the person is excited about. Perhaps it's a new car, or a new dishwasher, or a new girl or boy friend. Whatever it is, while it's new, the person cannot get enough of it, or talk about it enough (in their eyes, not yours). But wait a week or so and it will die out just as has all their other first loves.
Perhaps it's the enthusiasm and the excitement of new things that causes such people to jump from one thing to another. Do you think?
Have I described someone you know?
Have I perhaps described you?
Of course the doctor you have now is an honest doctor or else you wouldn't be letting him practice on you. But perhaps in the past?
I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I would assume that doctors are pretty well a class of person who takes his job seriously and cares about his or her patient. I doubt a person would go into the field of medicine without some regard for humanity at large. I am excluding those who are just after the big bucks, of course, who I assume would not be a family practitioner but some highfalutin specialist of some sort.
That doctor you trust, where do you assume he got his information about the problem you go to him for? Do you think he just instinctively knows your problem and the cure for it? Perhaps you know a mechanic like that, who seems to have an "ear" for hearing and solving problems with your car.
There are doctors like that, that is to say who have a knack for finding and curing certain illnesses. The chances are this "knack" did not come by birth, but by many years of experience with such problems, and many errors in judgment along the way. The chances are strong also that the doctor you find so marvelous was not so highly thought of by your parents or your grandparents who he first "practiced" on.
Doctors are the end product of a chain of scientists in the field of medicine. The doctor you see is the tip of the iceberg you deal with, but he is not the one who is actually "creating" the cure or the procedures by which to discover the problem. This doctor first had to spend many years in school having that information poured into his head. And when he had accomplished this, he had to serve as a doctor's assistant in order to learn what has already been established by the profession.
Even then, with all this experience, learning and practice under his belt, he must continually read up on what is expected of him by those scientists who work behind the scenes adding and subtracting from that knowledge base he has acquired. Some of the "firm foundational" cures he had learned will have been discovered as deadly poisons by "new studies."
Auto mechanics experience the same each year. As the new model car comes out, the mechanic is sent back to school to learn the idiosyncracies of that car. And I am sure that with these newfangled gadgets they put on cars, that don't work, it is doubly important the mechanic be sent back to school so they can know just what it is they don't know what they are doing with. [Did I say that right?]
If a doctor discovers that what he is being told by those above him (for instance that a certain drug is not helpful, but is in fact harmful, or that high cholesterol is good for a person rather than bad), can he just refuse to go along with the AMA program? Not likely. There are doctors who have done just that, and they are no longer allowed to practice in this country.
I know you have already guessed what I am going to say; the field is that of Religion. And the doctors are Doctors of Theology.
Preachers, Pastors, Evangelist, Pastors and Theologians must absolutely agree with everyone else in their denomination, or be cast out in the cold as a heretic. So, without considering any alternatives, these Pastors, Preachers and the lot follow one-another in their thinking and their beliefs like lemmings on their journey to the sea.
Without a thought one way or the other, you just accept that which you are told by your Pastor. You do not bother to question all the verses that completely contradict what your Pastor says, you just close your eyes and move on. It's much easer that way.
Can you see the cancer your doctor has told you about? Maybe. Can you feel this cancer that is waiting to ravage your body? Maybe. If your doctor hadn't told you the cancer was in you, would you even know it was there? Maybe, maybe not.
It's very possible that, like so many heart diseases, you have nothing to confirm the fact that the cancer even exist. But! You dedicate everything you are, have, or ever will possess to the banishing of that which you have no real clue even exists. After all, look at all the times someone has been diagnosed with cancer (or some other disease) and the diagnosis was wrong. Or consider the multitude of times people have been diagnosed with something that was either wrong, or did not exist in the first place.
But you do not consider those alternatives. No, you choose to fully believe the doctor is right. And because you believe the doctor, you are not only doing something about it; you are doing everything about it!
If you believed your child was getting involved with drugs, or the wrong company, or spending money unwisely, or living an unhealthy lifestyle - would you sit back and say: "Oh well"? Of course not, you would worry and fret over it. You would do all you could do, even to becoming a "nag" in order to correct the problem.
If you believed the brakes on your car were bad, and you were preparing to take the family on vacation. Would you just say: "Oh well" and do nothing about it? If so, it might be a good idea to make an appointment with a psychiatrist real quick like.
Or, is it like the Protestants (most??) say, that it has all been done by Jesus and all you have to do is recite a few words, take a dunking, and you will be waltzing past St. Peter at the gate?
Is it: Do this and live; or is it: Do nothing and live?
There is only one thing that will get you through the gate: the Holy Spirit. If you have the Holy Spirit, He will instruct you as to what Works to perform, and He will be the evidence that you have the Saving Grace you are taught that you need.
Then, why pray tell, do we judge others by their works?
Even non believers who make no profession of trying to work their way to Heaven we judge according to what they do. For instance, how often do we judge someone because they drink, or they smoke, or they overeat? Is any of this a sin? According to the Bible it's a sin. And so is most of everything else even "Believers" do a sin. Yet we see others as sinners for their self-serving behavior, and excuse ourselves and those of our acquaintance for our self-serving deeds.
The Bible tells us that if we do that which we believe to be a sin, it is a sin, whether it is indeed a sin in God's eyes or not. If (since) that is so, then it seems to me that as we judge others for their misdeeds, we are actually heaping truck loads of coal on our own heads.
And, as an added thought, it appears to me that the one we are condemning may not even be sinning at all, if their action is not seen in their own eyes as a sin.
Kind of a boomerang accusation, don't you think?
But even in the little things I have trouble with instructions. For one thing, when I am being instructed it is an indication that someone thinks I don't know that thing. This rides hard on my ego. Once I work through my resistance to listening to advice (which usually happens long after I had denied the advisor's right to give it) I am able to absorb it quite freely.
There's another form of instruction that I have difficulty with; those little (or huge) booklets they send along with everything we purchase. It's as if they think we are all dummies and can't figure out how to put their product together without their help. Insulting, isn't it?
Well, they're right, at least on my part they are right.
After I misspend half a day trying to put together that object that says it should take a ten-year-old a half an hour; and after I had bent or broken half the pieces - I read the instructions.
Of course, by this time it is too late because I have either lost or destroyed the pieces needed to assemble the thing and make it work.
The hardest to teach are those who think they already know the answers, and/or think they know what you are going to say, therefore do not listen. A full cup is difficult to place anything into.
Also difficult to teach are those who want the answers, that is the bottom line, without having to learn the major steps that make the bottom line understandable and workable. I am this way myself, so I understand that person's frustration and impatience. But I also know that it just plain doesn't work that way!
Imagine a doctor who just wants to know how to take a patient's heart out, sew it up, and put it back in again. He didn't want to spend the years required to learn how the heart works, what causes it to malfunction, or how to heal it. Would you like him to operate on you?
But, that's what we do. Correction. That's what I do.
Jesus died so that He could give us a Teacher whereby we can understand the Book of Instructions He wrote for us. But do we listen to those instructions? Do we even bother to read the instructions and apply them to ourselves? Do we take the first baby-steps laid out for us to take? Or do we ask to be carried in one great leap to perfection and to be comforted in some Mansion in the Sky?
The Bible makes it very clear that this is not so.
To begin with, in the Old Testament Satan was rarely mentioned. And all through the wilderness flight of the Hebrew children, there is no mention of him trying to lead any of them astray. And surely, if old Satan had been after all Mankind, he would have been after Abraham, Joseph and Moses!
Yet, there was nothing said of him.
Was Satan in the Garden? I believe he was. I believe he was doing the talking for the serpent, just as he spoke through Judas, and as he will speak through the Big and the Little Beasts of Revelation. But none of these are Satan, they merely serve as agents of Satan.
God uses agents as well. Jesus was an Agent of God. Angels are certainly used as agents, as were the Apostles, and as was a burning bush to Moses; and Moses stood in the stead of God to the Israelites; and a donkey served as agent to Balaam; and Jesus said that even the stones would be an agent of God if the Jews hadn't cried out at His Triumphal Entry.
And, more to the point, we are told that we are to be the agents of God to the World. That we are to be, and certainly will be: "Light Bearers" (James 1:17; John 1:4-10; 12:46; 8:12; Mat 5:14Phil 2:15).
In 1Chronicles 21:1 we find that old adversary planting ideas into the head of "a man after My own heart," says God Himself. And David is overcome, refusing to listen to council. There are other incidences of David failing to live up to God's standards, but there is nothing that says Satan had anything to do with those failings. They were, as it seems, his own weaknesses and lusts that caused his downfall.
Isa 14:4-23; Ezek 14:1-18; Chron 21:1-3; Job 1:1-12; 2:1-6; Psalm 109:4-8; Zech 3:1-7;
The following are from the New Testament. The word Satan is the same in the Greek as it is in the Hebrew with the added connotation of "devil' or "accuser":
Mat 4:1-11; 12:22-37; 16:21-23; Mark 1:9-13; 3:22-29; 4:13-15; 8:32-33; Luke 4:1-13; 10:17-19; 13:13-17; 22:1-4; 22:29-32; John 13:21-30; Acts 5:1-3; 26:14-18; Rom 16:17-20; 1Cor 5:1-6; 7:3-5; 2Cor 2:6-11; 5:3-5; 11:13-15; 12:7-8; 1Thes 2:17-20; 2:3-12; 1Tim 1:18-20; 5:11-14; Rev 2:8-28; 3:7-9; 12:1-17; 20:1-10
Those vessels that break in the fire; those jewels that melt or explode in the furnace; those dead limbs that had no life in them - in other words, those "Christians" who fail to overcome, to endure to the end, will not be placed in the service of our Lord. It is the trying fires of this life that "try our mettle" and "Prove" us. We are to be thankful for these trials, just as John and Peter where when they stood before the Sanhedrin; or as Paul was in his many trials and persecutions, occasions that proved their worthiness to be in the presence of our Lord (Acts 5:41; 2Thes 1:11; Luke 14:28).
Today Mankind is in the same dilemma. As in the Old Testament times, Man has all he can do to fight off his own lusts and desires. And for the unconverted Man, that is not even an issue since all he has is his lusts and desires; and he sees no reason to resist them.
As Christians this situation should no longer exist. Although in the churches we are taught that, like the World, we can do as we please and still be acceptable for Heaven (some add some "works" to this doctrine), the Bible does not tell us so. We, as Christians, possess a power far beyond that which the Old Testament Saints had. That Power is the Lord God Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit. And like Jesus, those who possess this Power will be lead through their valley of temptation in order to prove the quality of the vessel that houses this Power. Those with the Holy Spirit will welcome this trial "with joy" (James 1:2) because they see it as evidence that they are worthy to suffer with their Savior. Those without the Spirit, or who have been told that suffering means they are not in possession of the Holy Spirit, will resist the trial and plead to be relieved of it, rather than pray for the strength to endure it (Luke 22:31; John 17:15).
The same for the promises to David, or to any other of the Old Testament Saints. Theirs was a physical promise, that is a Land, and a long life if they followed the Lord.
The promises often spoken of in the churches, redirected toward us, were specifically given to the faithful Disciples who followed Jesus throughout His ministry. They were not to us! There are some promises made to us, if we overcome, as Jesus overcame, and endure to the end as Jesus and the Apostles did. The other promises that Pastors cut out of their sermons are those that speak of burning dead limbs and "Wailing and gnashing of teeth" that is in store for the non-productive "servants."
This watchman carries with him a shofar, that is a ram's horn (or silver) trumpet that he is to blow when danger approaches. But times of danger is not the only time he's to blow the shofar; he is to blow the shofar to call an assembly, to announce a celebration (or Feast Days), and as a call to worship.
The shofar was not only an instrument of war and merriment, but is also (and perhaps primarily) an instrument for the use of priests.
The citizens of these cities (churches) are counting on the watchmen to know their stuff, and to keep a clear eye out for dangers such as false doctrine. This is certainly understandable. These watchmen have taken on the responsibility, and under normal circumstances have professed, to be fully competent and capable of the job.
Or what if the watchman, although fully qualified and watching in earnest, finds he is without knowledge regarding the shofar, and when danger approaches he either can not blow the alarm, or sounds the call for celebration by mistake?
This Pastor, it appears to me, is reaching for those who are truly making an effort to live the life of a Christian. Here is one working hard to do just that, and dedicating his life toward that purpose. He and I, the Pastor, have the same goal - so why is it he seems to completely ignore my efforts?
Long after the tape was finished, the understanding as to why came to me. The difference is not in the message he and I publish. It's not in the words. The difference is in the understanding of what being a Christian is all about.
This Pastor, as with all Pastors and ministers, believe he is preaching to a room full of people who have been saved so therefore going to Heaven in spite of the sins they are blatantly committing. He believes, since these people he is trying motivate to do the right thing have said their Sinner's Prayer and been baptized, they can not fall away from Grace, so therefore cannot be lost.
What else can this or any other minister believe? That is all they hear except from the Catholic church and the Cults, which any Protestant assumes has to be wrong on every doctrine from the get-go.
Protestant equals Grace Alone, Eternal Security and Avoidance of any kind of Works. Mess with any of these doctrines and you'll find a chip on the shoulder of the Grace Aloner Protestant.
And there lies the conflict.
This Pastor, along with all others who are sincere and are truly wanting the best for their church and their congregation are not working to keep their listeners on the Straight and Narrow in effort to preserve their souls; they believe the Straight and Narrow has nothing to do with their souls. The consequence of sin isn't in question with these ministers; in their mind that issue has forever been settled and irreversible. No, the problem as they see is it is in the appearance of the Christian. It's not that sin makes the "Christian" a non-Christian in their eyes; it's that the "Christian" who acts Worldly is giving a black eye to the church, causing those of the World to look down on Christians thereby giving them reason to not perform the simple rituals that will give them the same "Eternal Salvation" the sinning "Christians" have. "If only those Worldly sinners could know that they can enter a church, say a few words, get their ticket to Heaven - then they can go back out into the World and continue their sinning." This is the view of the Protestant church. And those blatantly sinning "Christians" are keeping Heaven from filling up with self-serving people we all full-well know God is longing for.
Does the Bible support such a stance as that which I just mentioned? What did Paul say regarding sinners in the church? Didn't he tell the Corinthian church to put their unrepentant sinners out of the church so they wouldn't contaminate the Church? When someone is out of the church, therefore out of the Body of Christ where they are turned over to Satan, are they not separated from Christ? Wouldn't that indicate that sin is a barrier to God and fellowship with the sincere servants of God?
I have hundreds of pages of Scripture and writings supporting this view, it's not my purpose to try and prove anything here, just to point out the problem as I see it.
"Christianity" is something you sign up for and you are forever stuck with whether you like it or not. It is directed toward serving the man, the church, and the appearances of Godliness.
Being a Christian, on the other hand and in an Eternity sense, is not a matter of appearances, or of rituals, nor is it a safety net for man. Quite the contrary. Being a Christian is abandoning one's self and one's interests. It is something that overwhelms and devours you until there is nothing in you that can sin without feeling sick, repenting in a flood of tears. Appearances and other people's opinions mean nothing any more; only God's opinion matters to the Born Again Christian. Being a Christian means following Jesus the Christ into battle against the enemy, which is our own soul, in effort to serve Him.
The difference between Christianity and Being a Christian is a matter of direction. Whereas "Christianity" is directed toward self ("Become a Christian and save your soul"); Being a Christian means feeling totally inadequate for the service you have been elected to, and undeserving of whatever rewards that should happen to come with that service. Being a Christian is service, not self-serving. Being a Christian means doing all the things you always wanted to do, being the person you always believed you should be; but was never able to do or become except with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
God has laid out His expectations for us very clearly, both by direct statements and commands, and by example. These examples include not only the Old Testament Saints and sinners, but the New Testament Apostles, as well as the theologians and ministers of their day - the Scribes, Pharisees, Priests and Sadducees. And to make sure we fully understand what He means, He came down here and led a life (and death) that perfectly portrayed His expectations of those He desires to be with Him in Paradise throughout Eternity.
As is the custom of Man, we, all of us, seek out that which satisfies ourselves and our comfort level. Some people are comfortable, and therefore satisfied with a backpack and a sandwich (daily bread). Others, especially in our Western culture, are not satisfied unless they have a fine house and car, the newest computer, the largest screen TV available, and servants bringing them seven-course meals on a silver platter. And this, I am afraid, is what we as a culture are teaching our children to expect.
Jesus said that only those satisfied with their daily bread are acceptable for Heaven. When a rich young ruler came to Jesus to find out what he must do to enter Heaven, Jesus told him his fine works were not sufficient, or even necessary, but that he must give up all he had and become like the riffraff who were looking for nothing more than to follow Jesus and be totally dependant on Him for their sustenance.
We want to feel secure. We want to make sure our needs and our wants are not only supplied, but secured for our future.
We seek out our comfort level.
Some people's comfort level is climbing ever higher mountains or struggling to be more proficient in whatever their endeavor. Others (almost all) find their comfort level lounging in front of their wide screen eating potato chips.
Myself, I am most comfortable riding my bicycle on long distance tours. But the rest of my family are not so, but rather feel more comfortable with sufficiency and stability. I don't say this to indicate that my comfort level is better, just different.
There is a church realm, which for this purpose includes all the religions, cults and denominations. Each segment of that realm hangs out a sign indicating that theirs is the right path, and often the only path that leads to the goodies that brings one what he or she desires.
I believe that God is not really interested in any of the "boxes" we mice create and designate as "It." Nor does He care which "Box" we enter. I believe there is not a single box with the right answer, or even looking for the right answer because they have all built walls around that which they have already settled on as "truth," and will allow no one to alter or criticize that which they have embedded themselves in.
I believe that in each one of the multitude of boxes man has built there are individuals who are not content with reading the signs on the walls, or listening to the cavalier teachings from the pulpit or instructional material; but are looking for a Truth that comes from within what is blocked out from all the boxes.
I believe that God is looking for those souls who are courageous enough, and believe in Him enough to climb over the walls of doctrine and learn to follow Him by listening to Him through the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
I believe, when all is said and done, those who have listened to and followed God through the course He and His Apostles chose to follow will be "Caught Up" to His presence and His similitude.
And I believe this maze called "church" will be scraped along with the World into the pit reserved for Self-Serving humanity.
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