Archives for : August2012

I was never ashamed to confess my ignorance

“Say oh wise man how you have come to such knowledge? Because I was never ashamed to confess my ignorance and ask others.”

Johann Gottfried von Herder, German philosopher, theologian, and poet (1744-1803)

What We Want and What We Need

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19Philippians 4:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

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Black smoke poured out of the upstairs bedroom window, and Sam could smell the acrid combination of a home burning – melting plastic, carpeting, electrical wiring, all being consumed in the hungry flames of his home, literally going up in smoke.

He had just a few moments to get some things out – the things he needed. His computer? Documents from a safe that had his bank numbers and passports? The new Mercedes sports car he had bought last week, still in the garage, and as yet untouched by the fire?

His mind was cluttered. It ground down to a crawl. And this very instant, he had to decide what he really needed in life, what he could not live without.

Then he heard his wife Serena scream: “Sam, that’s Jordan’s room! He’s still in there!” Jordan with the tousled hair and the dimples in his smile was their three year-old son.

Sam’s wants and wishes vanished. Nothing else mattered except his boy. He held his coat over his head, and threw his shoulder against the crumbling front door. The only thing he needed was his son, back safe in his arms.

There’s a difference between what we want and what we need, though life’s clutter blurs the distinction at times. Don’t let the threat of a fire, temporary or eternal, remind you of that!

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Lies you may be believing!

In a few instances, New Testament passages speak of people who delude themselves or are deluded by others.  Paul was worried about the Colossians being deluded by a persuasive argument made by false teachers (Col. 2:4Col. 2:4
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4 This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech.

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).  He had warned Rome about those who deceive the unsuspecting (Rom. 16:18Rom. 16:18
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18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent.

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).  Then, Paul talks about those whose hearts are hardened by sin who God allows to be deluded so that they believe what is false (2 Th. 2:112 Th. 2:11
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11 And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie:

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).  While his immediate concern is the man of lawlessness discussed in context, how needed are his words in our current climate?  Sadly, so many today like those of every generation, believe the lies told by those in places of influence or who possess a resonating voice in the culture.  What are some lies people believe?

  • Evolution is a flawless theory and creation the simpleton’s choice.
  • Money equals happiness and poverty equals misery.
  • An affair is fun and exciting and marital faithfulness is boring and unfulfilling.
  • Since there are so many more people in religion who reject baptism as essential and embrace instrumental music in worship, “they” must be right and “we” must be wrong.
  • You are only young once, so live life to the fullest and be willing to try anything once.
  • Honesty does not pay.
  • Children should be allowed to make their choices without interference from their parents, even concerning how involved in the church they should be.
  • If I am not happy, I should be allowed to do whatever it takes to be happy.
  • It is my life and I will do as I please (or, “It’s all about me!”).
  • Everybody’s doing “it” (substitute any number of things for “it”).
  • Christians are delusional, sheltered, and the most judgmental, intolerant people on earth.

There are many more, but these are some with which you should be familiar.  So, how do we keep from believing a lie?  We must know the truth, and we can know it (John 8:32John 8:32
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32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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).  We must believe the truth (Eph. 1:13Eph. 1:13
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13 in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,—in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

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).  We must obey the truth (cf. Gal. 5:7Gal. 5:7
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7 Ye were running well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth?

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).  The only antidote known for such lies is the truth.  Let us stick with that, and we will build immunity from some very deadly and deceiving philosophies out there.

–Neal Pollard

Why, in the realm of religion, do people believe and act as they do?

VIRTUALLY EVERY RELIGION is learned…

New Testament Christianity is no exception to this rule.  When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, after warning him of evil men he said, “But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-152 Timothy 3:14-15
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14 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

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).  Why then, in the realm of religion, do people believe and act as they do?

Why do our friends in the Catholic Church engage in so much ceremonialism in their various services?  If one should ask such a question, the answer no doubt would be, “This is the way we learned it.”  Ask a Muslim why he believes as he does and the answer most likely will be the same, “This is the way we learned it.”  Why do all people who profess to follow Christ engage in so many unscriptural practices?  The answer is still the same, “This is the way we learned it.”  But from where did they learn it?  Certainly not from the Bible.  If the source of our learning is corrupt, our learning will be no better.

It’s not enough to be taught.  We must concern ourselves with where and by whom we were taught.  Fortunately for Timothy, his faith was instilled in him by a godly mother and grandmother (cf. 2 Timothy 1:52 Timothy 1:5
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5 having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also.

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).  So, a hand-me-down faith is not necessarily bad, provided of course, those handing down their faith are sound in the faith.

As Christians, we should ask ourselves why we believe as we do.  Where did we learn it?  We should be able to go to the Scriptures and say, “Here is why I believe as I do.  I learned it from the Bible.”  (Marlin Kilpatrick)

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’  Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44-45John 6:44-45
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44 No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me.

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Mike Benson

 

A squirrel eating an ice cream cone

God feeds the birds (Mt. 6:26Mt. 6:26
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26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?

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) as well as the squirrels.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Seek and ye shall find!

About twenty years ago I began searching for some rare religious books.  A few of these books have been found and purchased over the years, but most are volumes I have never been able to see let alone buy.

About ten years ago someone told me one of the books on my list is worthless—a small paperback that was hardly worth printing.  When I asked this fellow if we were talking about the same book, he assured me we were.

Although I did not think the man was lying, his claim seemed doubtful because another book by this same author is outstanding.  Since it didn’t hurt to keep looking, I have continued to watch for a copy of this “worthless paperback” for the past ten years.

Today some unusual circumstances alerted me to the fact that this book is again being sold via “print on demand” and single copies are available.  Today I was also able to hold and examine a copy of this book at a seminary library.  Rather than be a small paperback, this is a hardbound book of almost 600 pages and the material is truly outstanding.

Many of the great things in life come through searching and this is certainly true in the area of religion.  In Mt. 7:7Mt. 7:7
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7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

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Jesus said:  “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”  In Mt. 13:44Mt. 13:44
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44 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field; which a man found, and hid; and in his joy he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

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Jesus said:  “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field ; which a man found, and hid; and in his joy he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”

Some of our searching may seem fruitless and almost endless.  Others may try to discourage us in our search for God, truth, and heaven.  In the end faithful searchers often find they are blessed beyond their wildest dreams.

Keep searching, especially as it relates to being and staying in a right relationship with God.

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

Are you prepared to die?

A local barber became a Christian on a certain Sunday morning.  Being excited about his new found faith, this man wanted to share the news about Jesus with all his customers.

The barber opened his shop on the Monday after his conversion and in walked a customer.  The barber situated this man in the chair, put the hair apron on him, and then proceeded to get a pair of scissors from the counter.  With scissors in hand the barber approached the man in the chair and said:  “Are you prepared to die?”

The terrified customer leaped from the chair and escaped through the nearest door.

This story, which is said to be true, contains some interesting lessons.  First, it reminds Christians about the need to be evangelistic (Mk. 16:15-16Mk. 16:15-16
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15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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).  Second, it reminds us to choose our words carefully.  We may know what we mean, but others may not (Col. 4:5-6Col. 4:5-6
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5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

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).  Third, a time will come when either we die (Heb. 9:27Heb. 9:27
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27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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) or the Lord will return (2 Thess. 1:7-102 Thess. 1:7-10
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7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, 8 rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: 9 who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed in that day.

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The question posted by the barber is very important so I am going to put it to you, dear reader.  Are you ready to die?

If you are not sure about your relationship with God, please study the following items.

Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6Heb. 11:6
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6 And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

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We cannot be a child of God without repentance (Lk. 13:3Lk. 13:3
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3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

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We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Tim. 6:121 Tim. 6:12
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12 Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.

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; Acts 8:36-38Acts 8:36-38
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36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

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We must also be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27Gal. 3:27
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27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16Acts 2:38; 22:16
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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) and then “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:71 Jn. 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Famous saying by Benjamin Franklin

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN IS accredited with saying that there is nothing in this life that is certain except death and taxes…

Funny, is it not, how neither seems to come at an opportune time?  Death is something that we never come to grips with.  We deny that it happens.  We put it off until another day.  We try to run ahead of it to ensure that it never catches up.  Some even try to buy it off but they never succeed for death comes to us all.

However, this isn’t much comfort when our loved ones pass on.  We have all lost someone near and ear to us.  A grandparent.  An uncle or aunt.  A parent.  A sibling.  A close friend in the prime of life.  And when these deaths occur in trivial circumstances, the pain is almost suffocating.  A friend commits suicide.  Another is taken in an automobile accident.  A grandparent or parent who develops cancer is given only two weeks to live.  An uncle is murdered.

It happens.

It shouldn’t.

But it does.

The pain that comes from death is worse than anything else that humanity can imagine or create.  You see, death represents finality.  That’s it.  It’s the end of the line.  They are gone.  Your loved one is now only a memory.  At least that is true for those who never know Christ.  But for the ones who do, death is only a brief milestone between earth and eternity.  (Michael Whitworth)

“…It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27Hebrews 9:27
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27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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Mike Benson

Is Our Thanksgiving Sincere?

Paul spoke of the Gentiles in this fashion…

“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” ( Romans 1:21Romans 1:21
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21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

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ESV).

Did you catch the “progression” in that verse?

* The Gentiles knew God. * The Gentiles did not honor God. * The Gentiles did not give thanks to God. * The Gentiles became futile in their thinking and their hearts were darkened.

Watch it. Even though the Gentiles KNEW God existed (because a creation implied a Creator, vv. 19-20), they did not respond to their knowledge of him. They refused to recognize, acknowledge, or bow down to him in worship.

They did not accept the fact that he was the singular source of all their blessings. They decided that blind fortune or human merit afforded the totality of life’s rewards.

And what was the inevitable result of this failure to express honor and gratitude to God?

Paul said their thinking became futile. The word means “empty.” I find it interesting that the same Greek word translated “futile” is the same word in the Septuagint/1 used for idols (e.g., Leviticus 17:7Leviticus 17:7
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7 And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the he-goats, after which they play the harlot. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations.

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; 2 Chronicles 11:152 Chronicles 11:15
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15 and he appointed him priests for the high places, and for the he-goats, and for the calves which he had made.

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). You see, idols are empty; they are nothing.

So instead of building their minds on the reality of God, the Gentiles built them on their own senseless speculation and therefore became futile or empty in their thinking.

I don’t know about you, but I hear a strong warning in Romans 1:21Romans 1:21
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21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

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. It is possible for me to know (and even admit) that God exists, but then fail to show my love and gratitude towards him.

The consequences of perennial ingratitude mean that my thinking becomes empty and I lose the ability to make any moral distinctions.

We sometimes wonder how politicians can reference deity but then enact laws that are in direction contradiction to divine revelation. I understand now how that happens. It’s about ingratitude. Thanklessness. Folks who chose not to thank God will inevitably pursue legislation that is empty and void of God’s will.

I need to be more grateful. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be confined to a day, it should be a lifestyle. _______

1/ The Greek translation of the Old Testament.

by Mike Benson @ www.forthright.net

Accused of strangulation

I once met someone who was accused of strangling another person.

As this alleged strangler told me his story I could not help but contemplate his behavior and appearance.  He was not using curse words; his body was not riddled with tattoos and there were none of the “tough guy” signs I would expect to find on an accused strangler.  In fact, everything about this young man made him look like a model citizen.  Why would the police send out three officers to arrest someone who had such a clean-cut appearance and such a pleasant demeanor?

After finishing his story the accused strangler told me he was innocent.  He said the person who called 911 and claimed he had strangled her was a liar with a vendetta.

I do not know whether this accused strangler is being railroaded or not, but God knows.  According to 1 Cor. 4:51 Cor. 4:5
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5 Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.

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, the Lord will one day return and He “will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.”

Maybe some who read these words have some “secret sins.”  If so, God knows what these things are and these things and they will be exposed at the end of time.  It is better to deal with “secret things” now than to have them exposed at the Lord’s return.

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

God has no *plan B*

This is Truth: “There is ONE body, ONE Spirit, ONE hope, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, and ONE God” (Ephesians 4:4-5Ephesians 4:4-5
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4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

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This is False:  “There is MORE than one body, MORE that one Spirit, MORE that one hope, MORE that one Lord, MORE than one faith, MORE than one baptism, and MORE that one God. Consider: can one be saved by believing and following a falsehood?

I fear that many, even in the Lord’s church, while they may not intellectually admit it, have the idea that “somehow” every fairly decent person is going to be saved even if the person doesn’t worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24John 4:23-24
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23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

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); even if they don’t seek the kingdom first (Matt. 6:33Matt. 6:33
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33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

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); even if they don’t take up their cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23Luke 9:23
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23 And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

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); and even if they have never been baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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The condition that promotes this fear is the steadily declining urgency to tell others about the Christ of the Bible.  Many confess (by their action and attitude), that they don’t believe that I or anyone else has the right to challenge or question another’s faith!  The Apostle Paul questioned the baptism of 12 men (Acts 19:1-7Acts 19:1-7
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19 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: 2 and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. 3 And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. 4 And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. 5 And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And they were in all about twelve men.

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), and explained to them how their baptism was wrong, and then baptized them according to the Gospel. Today, to question another’s faith seems to be a cardinal sin!

God has only ONE plan of salvation, and that is His Gospel (Romans 1:16Romans 1:16
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16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

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); and there is no “plan B.”  We are either saved in the way God says we must be saved, or we are lost.

“What about people who have never heard the Gospel?” Well, if people can go to heaven because they have never heard the Gospel, then we would be doing them an injustice by trying to fulfill our Lord’s Great Commission. Why teach them and take a chance on them refusing it and being lost, when they could be saved if they never heard?  Such logic assumes that people will be with God in Heaven for all eternity precisely because they never heard of Christ!  That is, by their not hearing the Truth, they are assumed to have a free pass into Heaven!

Did Jesus, or did not Jesus say, “NO ONE comes to the Father by Me” (John 14:6John 14:6
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6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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)? Did Jesus mean that if you hear My Gospel and obey it, you can come to the Father, but if you don’t hear the Gospel you can come ANYWAY?!

Since there is no effect without a cause, and the effect is a deadening of our urgency to evangelize our friends and neighbors, we must determine the “cause” of this effect and correct it. Could the cause be that we are “drifting away from our great salvation? (Hebrews. 2:1-3Hebrews. 2:1-3
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2 1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard;

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).  Paul writes, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith…unless indeed you are disqualified” (2Corinthians 13:5).    –Toby Miller

Free Christmas gifts

The first call of the morning on a December morning was from a woman seeking free Christmas gifts for her family.  The gist of the conversation was something like this:

Caller:  “Are you the big church on the corner?”

My response:  “No, that is not us.”

Caller:  “Are you helping people for Christmas this year?”

My response:  “We are not involved in that type of work.”

Caller:  “Goodbye.”

This caller reminded me of Jn. 6:27Jn. 6:27
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27 Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.

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:  “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.”

In my mind I thought  of how Jn. 6:27Jn. 6:27
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27 Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.

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could be applied to “Christmas gifts” and the verse would read something like this:  “Work not for the gifts which perisheth—temporary items like Christmas gifts—but for the gifts which abideth.”

We certainly do need to “work for food” (2 Thess. 3:102 Thess. 3:10
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10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat.

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), but our primary emphasis needs to be on the spiritual part of life.  How sad that some work so hard to find free Christmas goodies but pay little to no attention to their eternal spirit.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

The first call of the morning was from a woman seeking free Christmas gifts for her family.  The gist of the conversation was something like this:

Caller:  “Are you the big church on the corner?”

My response:  “No, that is not us.”

Caller:  “Are you helping people for Christmas this year?”

My response:  “We are not involved in that type of work.”

Caller:  “Goodbye.”

This caller reminded me of Jn. 6:27Jn. 6:27
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27 Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.

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:  “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.”

In my mind I thought  of how Jn. 6:27Jn. 6:27
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27 Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.

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could be applied to “Christmas gifts” and the verse would read something like this:  “Work not for the gifts which perisheth—temporary items like Christmas gifts, but for the gifts which abideth.”

We certainly do need to “work for food” (2 Thess. 3:102 Thess. 3:10
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10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat.

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), but our primary emphasis needs to be on the spiritual part of life.  How sad that some work so hard to find free Christmas goodies but pay little to no attention to their eternal spirit.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

The wrong room!

On June 6, 1981ne 6, 1981
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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, Doug Whitt and his new bride, Sylvia, were escorted into their hotel’s fancy bridal suite in the wee hours of the morning. In the room they saw a sofa, chairs, and table, but no bed. Then they discovered the sofa was a hide-a-bed, with a lumpy mattress and sagging springs.

After a fitful night’s sleep they woke up in the morning with sore backs. The new husband went to the hotel desk and gave the management a tongue-lashing.

“Did you open the door in the room?” asked the clerk.

Doug went back to the room. He opened the door they had thought was a closet.
And there, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates, was a beautiful bedroom! *

How often WE miss out on life’s greatest blessings because we are looking
in “the wrong room.”  We often look for happiness and fulfillment in the world.
But, we’re looking in the wrong place!

The world offers many pleasures…  Some are acceptable to God and some are not.  A beautiful sunset, the majesty of mountains, brightly colored flowers, inspiring music, etc. are great blessings to man.  But some are sinful in God’s sight.  These are the “pleasures” of which John writes:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love
of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever”
(1 John 2:15-171 John 2:15-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

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).

The greatest blessings in life – things like peace, love, forgiveness, and hope — are NOT found in the world; they are found in Christ!  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3Ephesians 1:3
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3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:

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).

And Jesus is the DOOR through which we must enter to receive these truly great and lasting blessings (John 10:7-9John 10:7-9
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7 Jesus therefore said unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture.

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).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6John 14:6
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6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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).

Our SIN is that barrier that keeps us from the abundant life now and eternal life to come.  But Jesus died on the cross as payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

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).
If we will submit our lives to Him in faith (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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), confession (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and baptism (immersion) in His name (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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), then our sins are washed away by His blood and we are found in Christ, where all spiritual blessings are enjoyed!  And, if we will live faithfully to Him, He will lead us to eternal life (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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)!

Have YOU been looking in the wrong room?  Enter through the Door of Life on God’s terms and you’ll find, by God’s grace, the greatest blessings of all.

Won’t you?

— David A. Sargent,

An e-mail from *Darrell*

Today I received an e-mail from “Darrell” entitled “concern.”  Darrell is troubled that our congregational web site does not teach “salvation by faith alone.”

Darrell asked me to examine more than 30 Scriptures to prove his claim that salvation is by faith alone, but every verse he cited speaks of being saved “by faith” instead of salvation by “faith alone.”

My reply to Darrell included the following statement:  “If you could show me where “faith alone” is used in the Bible to describe salvation, I would be grateful.”

So far Darrell has not written back.  Maybe he has not yet looked his e-mail or maybe he is searching for just one passage that supports his belief that salvation is by “faith alone.”

“Faith alone” is found just one time in the New Testament; the NIV uses this exact wording in Jas. 2:24Jas. 2:24
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24 Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.

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to say “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”

Many claim we ARE saved by “faith alone,” but God’s inspired spokesman says a person is NOT saved by faith alone.  Who will we believe—God or a man like Darrell?

Brad Price

www.abiblecommentary.com

A Bible subject involving more than 2,500 verses!

Contradictions of Calvinism by Mike Benson

Bad news travels fast–especially in religious circles. The latest fatality is Dr. Jack Schaaps, “pastor” of the 15,000he 15,000
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja! Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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member First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Schaaps is 54, married with two children, and has served with the congregation for about eleven years.

He’s also been involved in an illicit relationship with a 16-year-old female church member.

According to news reports, a deacon noticed a text message on Schaap’s cell phone. The image showed preacher and girl engaged in a kiss. When confronted by his church board, Schaaps admitted to having an affair with the youth.

From a legal standpoint, the preacher is not in trouble because the legal age of consent for sexual activity in Indiana is 16. But from a professional, marital, and moral standpoint, Schaaps is in all kinds of hot water.

But here’s the kicker. Jack Schaaps is a Calvinist. Let that marinade around your brain stem for just a moment.

One of the petals of Calvinism (e.g., TULIP) is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints–what is popularly known as “once-saved, always-saved.” The idea is that once God has saved you, there is absolutely nothing you can do to be lost. Period. Dot. End of sentence.

However popular the doctrine may be within the religious world today, it is simply not in harmony with the teaching of Scripture. In reality, there are over 2,500 places in the Bible that teach a child of God can sin and be lost. Here’s a brief sampling from the New Testament:

* In the Parable of the Talents, the servant who buried his one talent was cast into outer darkness (Matthew 25:14-30Matthew 25:14-30
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14 For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. 16 Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. 17 In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. 18 But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. 20 And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 And he also that received the two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; 25 and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own. 26 But his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; 27 thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest. 28 Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. 30 And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

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). * In the Parable of the Soils, some who become children of God have their faith choked by thorns (Mark 4:14- 20Mark 4:14- 20
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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). * Some believe for a time, but, fall away because they succumb to temptation (Luke 8:13Luke 8:13
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13 And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

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). * Jesus is the vine and Christians are the branches. A branch that does not bear fruit is cut off and burned. * Judas fell (Acts 1:25Acts 1:25
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25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.

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). * Ananias and Sapphira were Christians who died in their sins (Acts 5:1-11Acts 5:1-11
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5 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him round, and they carried him out and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 But Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out. 10 And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things.

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). * Simon was in danger of losing his soul (Acts 8:20-22Acts 8:20-22
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20 But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee.

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). * If a child of God lives according to the flesh, he will die spiritually (Romans 8:12-13Romans 8:12-13
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12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: 13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

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). * The brother in the church at Corinth who had his father’s wife was in a lost condition until he repented (1 Corinthians 5:1-3, 5; 21 Corinthians 5:1-3, 5; 2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 1 It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one of you hath his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing, 5 to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 2 1 And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6 We speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought: 7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory: 8 which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory: 9 but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. 10 But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. 12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. 14 Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

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Corinthians 2:3-11; Revelation 21:27Revelation 21:27
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27 and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life.

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). * A weak brother can perish (1 Corinthians 8:111 Corinthians 8:11
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11 For through thy knowledge he that is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died.

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). * Even Paul could have been castaway (1 Corinthians 9:271 Corinthians 9:27
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27 but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

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). * The Israelites fell and were lost (1 Corinthians 10:1-121 Corinthians 10:1-12
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10 1 For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and did all eat the same spiritual food; 4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ. 5 Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us make trial of the Lord, as some of them made trial, and perished by the serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

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). * Some Christians in Galatia had already fallen because they had turned back to elements of the old law (Galatians 5:2-4Galatians 5:2-4
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2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.

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). * See also 1 Chronicles 28:91 Chronicles 28:9
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9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for Jehovah searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

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; 2 Chronicles 15:22 Chronicles 15:2
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2 and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: Jehovah is with you, while ye are with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

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; Ezekiel 3:20; 18:21-25Ezekiel 3:20; 18:21-25
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20 Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thy hand. 21 But if the wicked turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 None of his transgressions that he hath committed shall be remembered against him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? saith the Lord Jehovah; and not rather that he should return from his way, and live? 24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he hath done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. 25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel: Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

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.

The episode in Dr. Schaap’s life is heart-breaking. He has sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. His influence has been destroyed, his marriage has been damaged, and our society continues its downward spiral into the moral abyss.

But perhaps what wrenches my heart most of all is that many, like Dr. Schaaps, do not choose to see in the Word what is clearly illustrated in his life.

How can a person claim to be saved in Christ when his life and teaching are obviously not Christ-like?

Read this article online, write your reaction, and read
others’ comments as well. Click here:
http://tinyurl.com/8tya5yj

I’m dying from cancer. Please pray for my family

Earlier this week, I received an email from an old high school classmate and friend. During our high school years, we were very close. Had a lot of laughs, played a lot of pranks, and helped each other navigate that perilous path that leads one from a boyhood to a young adult. But after graduation from high school, we went our separate ways, and our paths have only briefly crossed once in the past 30 years.until last week.Out of the blue, I received a message from my old friend and it said, “Higgy, I’m dying from cancer. Please pray for my family.”

That was it. Nothing more. Short and to the point. What took only a few seconds to write has consumed my thoughts this past week. So many memories have flooded my mind. Though I haven’t seen this friend but once in 30 years, I feel as though I’ve been transported back through time and the past 30 years haven’t happened. But they have. And I’m heartbroken for my old friend, and will certainly honor his request.

But let this be a reminder to all of us. We’re all dying. Whether we are cognizant of it or not, each day we are a day closer to our death. Therefore, say what you need to say to your friends and family while you have time. Don’t allow loving words to go unspoken, then later to haunt you with regret. Not tomorrow, but today, tell someone you love how you feel. Remember, you and your loved one are dying.

Steve Higginbotham

Are you pressing toward the mark, or just pressing?

“EVERYBODY ENDS UP somewhere in life…

A few people end up somewhere on purpose.”1

The quote reminds me of the words of Paul to the saints at Philippi: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14Philippians 3:14
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14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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).  Paul had a mark toward which he was running.  Of course, that mark was heaven.

THOUGHT: What about you?  Are you pressing toward the mark, or just pressing?  (Wade Webster)

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14Philippians 3:13-14
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13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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1/ Andy Stanley, Visioneering, p. 8

Mike Benson

For the Red Baron, the temptation of number 81 was too much

THE DAY WAS April 21, 1918…

It occurred during World War I.  Baron Manfred von Richthofen led his flight of triplanes to search for British observation aircraft.  An engagement ensued between a flight of Sopwith Camels led by Canadian Royal Air Force pilot Captain Arthur Roy Brown.  Brown’s friend, Lt. Wilfred May, was a rookie on his first offensive patrol.  May had been ordered to keep out of combat, but he couldn’t resist.  He jammed his guns and, defenseless, headed away from the battle.  Richthofen spotted the lone plane and chose it for kill number 81.  Brown observed the scene below him and dove to help his fellow airman, knowing that May was no match for Richthofen.

Read was happened next: “It was then, with Brown closing from behind, that Richthofen, usually a meticulous and disciplined fighter pilot, made a mistake and broke one of his own rules by following May too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory.  Two miles behind the Allied lines, as Brown caught up with Richthofen and fired, the chase passed over the machinegun nests of Australian Field artillery.”  The debate continues over who fired the fatal shot that passed through Richthofen’s torso.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter–whether hit from the air or the ground, the Red Baron was mortally wounded.

Richthofen was good.  Probably overconfident.  But he broke one of his own rules.  Maybe in his mind he was just stretching the rule a bit.  Or he was distracted by something that appeared too good to be true.  Whatever the cause, he compromised his own standards, which led to his demise.  For the Red Baron, the temptation of number 81 was too much.

THOUGHT: The temptation always exists for you and for me to focus on the wrong things.  it is easy to be distracted by “the number$” or something else.  Then we find ourselves flying too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory, into the bondage of sin, and ultimately to our own destruction (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23
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23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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; Matthew 7:13-14Matthew 7:13-14
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13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. 14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.

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).  The right thing to do is to set our eyes on Jesus and follow Him, for He will lead us to eternal life in heaven.  (David A. Sargent)

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2Hebrews 12:2
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2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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Mike Benson

GIVE YOUR TOBACCO TO A CHIMPANZEE?

As a little child, I remember learning and loving a song we would sing at Vacation Bible School time and sometimes during the weekly Bible class time.  You may know the song:

Don’t drink booze, don’t drink booze,
Spend your money on a pair of shoes.
Please don’t smoke, please don’t smoke,
Feed your tobacco to a billy goat.
Please don’t curse, please don’t curse,
I can’t think of anything that’s worse.
Be polite, be polite,
Always treat other people right.
Worship God, worship God,
Don’t go Sunday with a fishing rod.

Even as a tyke, I knew I was being indoctrinated about the perils of using alcohol, tobacco, and curse words as well as the need for courtesy and faithful attendance.  It so happens that I could see the logic in the lesson it taught.

The Associated Press reports that Omega, a 12-year-old chimp, has developed a nicotine addiction from his cage at a Lebanese zoo. Omega has not had an ordinary life, even for a chimpanzee in captivity.  He began life as an entertainer in a local restaurant (you can’t make this stuff up!), where he smoked cigarettes until he was too big and strong for that gig.  The last 10 years have been spent at the zoo, where he waited for those moments when a visitor would toss him a cigarette inside his cage.  Animal rights activists are rescuing him, putting him on an Emirates airline flight, and relocating him to a sanctuary in Brazil where it is presumed they will try to rehabilitate him and break his smoking habit.
Omega cannot be held responsible for an unhealthy choice he cannot possibly weigh and rationalize.  Tobacco is an addictive substance, providing a short-term pleasure and creating a dependency that increases with continued use.  He is not made in God’s image (cf. Gen. 1:27Gen. 1:27
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27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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), and he has no heaven to gain or hell to lose (cf. Matt. 25:31Matt. 25:31
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31 But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:

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ff; 2 Cor. 5:102 Cor. 5:10
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10 For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

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).  We, on the other hand, have been given stewardship over time, money, talents, and other resources, including our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-201 Cor. 6:19-20
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19 Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; 20 for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.

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).  There are a myriad of choices we make that can harm those bodies, from overeating to drug abuse to tobacco use.  We do not want to make deliberate choices that wear down or weaken those bodies in which we are to be found wholeheartedly serving the Lord.  The list of poor health conditions related to the effects of long-term, regular smoking is very long.

Beyond that, we should not want to be enslaved to anything or anyone other than our Lord and righteousness.  How sad to see a chimp reduced to taking a drag from a used cigarette.  Sadder still is to see people made in the image of God reduced to nervous, distressed, agitated messes for want of another smoke.  Let us work not to let cigarettes or any other earthly thing make a monkey out of us!

–Neal Pollard

Is any church the right church?

When my wife and I moved into our house, we noticed a “church of God” right across the street from us.  Since we had never been in this church, we really had no idea what they taught or believed in.  Since they do have a biblical name (Acts 20:28Acts 20:28
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28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.

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; 1 Cor. 1:21 Cor. 1:2
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2 unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours:

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; etc), we did not know if they were teaching the truth and striving to be like the New Testament church.  They have a marquee sign outside the building which usually has a well crafted and thought provoking statement.  I found myself reading their marquee sign often.  However, one morning as I was driving by, their sign read, “Salvation is a Prayer Away.”  These five little words said a great deal about this church.
We live in a time of great religious confusion.  Which church is the correct one?  Which church is teaching truth?  Where is the church of the New Testament?  Are all churches equal in God’s eyes?  While there is much religious debate and confusion, hopefully one statement can be agreed upon: If a church does not teach/practice what the Bible teaches, then it simply cannot be the church found in the New Testament.

Throughout Scripture, people are being warned to watch out for false teachers and doctrine (Matthew 7:15Matthew 7:15
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15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.

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; 2 Corinthians 11:13-142 Corinthians 11:13-14
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13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.

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; etc).  In 1 Timothy 6:201 Timothy 6:20
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20 O Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee, turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called;

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, Paul said to Timothy, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”– which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith….”  Scripture shows there is false knowledge, false teachers, false doctrines, and even false religions.  This also must mean there is a true church.

God purposely made it so His church would stand out from the rest.  He gave specific commands to be followed.  If one is truly looking for the church found in the New Testament, it can be discovered by what the church does and teaches.  A church is either following God’s commands or not.  Since the Bible is the only inspired guide we have to tell us what is truth and is not truth (2 Timothy 3:16-172 Timothy 3:16-17
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16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

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), God has given a divine promise that people who seek can, and will, find which church is the true church (Matthew 7:7Matthew 7:7
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7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

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; John 8:31John 8:31
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31 Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples;

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).

I knew nothing about the church across the street, but just from those five little words, volumes were spoken.  It said they were not the church of the New Testament and they were not teaching the truth, at least about salvation (Acts 2:36-38Acts 2:36-38
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36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? 38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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; 1 Peter 3:211 Peter 3:21
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21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

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; Galatians 3:26-27Galatians 3:26-27
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26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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; Romans 6:3-4Romans 6:3-4
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3 Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

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; etc).

We live in a culture that presses heavily for religious unity and acceptance.  God clearly wants unity and acceptance, but not at the expense of His commands (Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
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16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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; Matthew 7:21Matthew 7:21
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21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

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; etc).  With a plethora of different religious thoughts and philosophies, the only way one can determine truth is through the Bible (John 17:17John 17:17
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17 Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.

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).  God’s word reveals everything people need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:32 Peter 1:3
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3 seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue;

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).  All of the answers are there.  May we always use His Word to determine not only which church is the true church, but also what truth is, and how it applies to each of us.

Brett Petrillo