Saturday, 30 March 2019

Saturday Song: Iron Butterfly, "Fields of Sun"

Here's another song with beautiful lyrics. We all know how good it feels when spring comes and new life abounds. That's what this picturesque song is about.

Listen to it here.

We who put our trust in Christ yearn for the day when he returns, just as the creation yearns for spring. Matthew 19:28 (KJV) says, "And Jesus said unto them, (his disciples) 'Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'"

We already have a down payment of that new life, thanks to our Lord and Master. As Paul pointed out in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV), "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Better still, this new life can't be bought with good works or being born into the right family or race. As Paul noted in Galatians 6:15 (KJV), "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."

But how does this imputed righteousness come to us? Paul answers that in Romans 6:4 (KJV) which says, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

Because we trust in Christ, we await the day when the fullness of this new life will be ours. As 2 Peter 3:13 (KJV) states, "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."

What a day that will be when Christ returns. Revelation 21:5 (KJV) reads, "And he that sat upon the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' And he said unto me, 'Write: for these words are true and faithful.'"

With all these wonderful promises, how can we not tell others? Even social media can be our way of witnessing to unsaved folks about this wonderful hope we share.

On Monday, I'll post about who the fools of this world really are. What an appropriate topic for April Fools Day.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Who Was the World's Biggest Loser?

I've written about sanctification but I only touched on what happens when it doesn't happen. The world's biggest loser, as John MacArthur has pointed out, is Judas Iscariot.

From all outward appearances, this disciple seemed to be a good man. But Jesus wasn't fooled. John 6:70 and 71 (BBE) records, "Then Jesus said, 'Did I not make a selection of you, the twelve, and one of you is a son of the Evil One?' He was talking of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. It was he who was to be false to Jesus--one of the twelve."

Even so, he partook in everything Christ did. Any time the disciples went to do something, he never was excluded nor did he excuse himself. The only exception we know of was when he betrayed the Lord.

Judas even feigned outrage when a woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus. John 12:3-6 (BBE)records, "Then Mary, taking a pound of perfumed oil of great value, put it on the feet of Jesus and made them dry with her hair: and the house became full of the smell of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was to give him up), said, 'Why was not this perfume traded for three hundred pence, and the money given to the poor?' (He said this, not because he had any love for the poor; but because he was a thief, and, having the money-bag, took for himself what was put into it.)"

But how could a person be in Christ's presence for so long without becoming truly devoted to him? The answer is in 1 John 2:19 (BBE) which explains, "They went out from us but they were not of us; if they had been of us they would still be with us: but they went out from us so that it might be made clear that they were not of us."

And even though Judas repented of his decision to betray Christ, he never asked forgiveness of the Lord. As we read in Matthew 27:5 (BBE), "And he put down the silver in the Temple and went out, and put himself to death by hanging."

I hope to point out Judas' huge mistake in my next book, You Think You're Going to Heaven? Even the worst of sins can be forgiven, except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. I'll explain what that blasphemy is in my book as well.

The song I'll post about on Saturday is a beautiful portrayal of God's creation and how it renews itself each spring.

Monday, 25 March 2019

What Did John Mean by Fathers, Young Men, and Children?

Continuing on with the theme of sanctification, a fancy word for spiritual growth, I want to explain 1 John 2:13. The Bible in Basic English renders it this way. "I am writing to you, fathers, because you have knowledge of him who was from the first. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the Evil One. I have sent a letter to you, children, because you have knowledge of the Father."

Fathers, in John's verse, are those mature Christians who desire to know the Father better. Unlike young men and children, they are plumbing the depths of God's awesome character.

Paul expressed this longing in Philippians 3:10 (KJV) when he wrote, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;".

Young men, as John MacArthur explained in one sermon, are those who are zealous for the truth. Paul advised those young-men types in 1 Corinthians 14:12 (BBE) when he wrote, "So if you are desiring the things which the Spirit gives, let your minds be turned first to the things which are for the good of the church."

As for those "children" types, they are the ones who are new believers in Christ. Jesus likened immigrants into the Kingdom of Heaven like little children. They have implicit trust in their parents, as we should in Christ. Luke 18:17 (BBE) says "Truly I say to you, Whoever does not put himself under the kingdom of God like a little child, will not come into it at all."

But some Christians refuse, for one reason or another, to grow up spiritually. Hebrews 5:12 (BBE)chides, "And though by this time it would be right for you to be teachers, you still have need of someone to give you teaching about the first simple rules of God's revelation; you have become like babies who have need of milk, and not of solid food."

We easily see how John's analogy demonstrates sanctification. Children in Christ trust him. Young men learn and defend his teachings. But Fathers seek to know the Lord intimately.

I'll point this out in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Just as a child who won't develop mentally is a worry to its parents, so Christians who won't grow up are an embarrassment to the family of Christ.

On Thursday, I'll post about the world's biggest loser. He spent more than three years with the greatest teacher ever to walk this planet and still blew his golden opportunity.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Saturday Song: Daniel Amos, "My Room"

What a shame it is that we North American Christians are so intimidated about sharing the gospel. In many countries, being a follower of Christ means persecution or death. The worst thing that happens here is losing one's job or friendships.

A Christian rock band named Daniel Amos recognized this cowardice in all of us, including myself, and wrote a song about it.

Listen to the song here.

This seems counterintuitive but we ought to rejoice when we're verbally or physically abused for our faithfulness. The followers of Christ felt it was an honour to suffer for his sake. Acts 5:41 KJV) records what happened to these faithful saints. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."

We also read this in James 1:2 and 3 (BBE). "Let it be all joy to you, my brothers, when you undergo tests of every sort; Because you have the knowledge that the testing of your faith gives you the power of going on in hope;"

God isn't mean to let us suffer for Christ. Look at what Scripture says in James 1:4 (KJV). "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

We also have the records of all the faithful to remind us of how they persevered in the face of horrific persecution. The author of Hebrews outlined how the faithful sought a heavenly city and the Messiah. Hebrews 12:1 (KJV) reminds us, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"

Furthermore, our present persecution will turn to great joy later. Look at what 1 Peter 4:13 (KJV) points out. "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

How wonderful it is that whatever we suffer now will be infinitely compensated when Christ returns. Let's all cling to this wonderful hope.

On Monday, I'll post about what John meant by fathers, young men, and children. Some people might be confused by those verses in his letter to the faithful.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

How May We Recognize Our Sanctification?

We read in Scripture about the importance of sanctification. How then can we recognize our growth in our Christian life? We can recognize this in several ways.

First of all, we don't practice sin as a part of our life. We see this illustrated in 1 John 1:6 and 7 (BBE) which says, "If we say we are joined to him, and are walking still in the dark, our words are false and our acts are untrue: But if we are walking in the light, as he is in the light, we are all united with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son makes us clean from all sin."

We also notice that our reactions and responses change as God's Holy Spirit works in us. James 3:17 (BBE) says, "But the wisdom which is from heaven is first holy, then gentle, readily giving way in argument, full of peace and mercy and good works, not doubting, not seeming other than it is."

Other people also notice our changing character which reflects our growth in the likeness of Christ. Colossians 1:9 and 10 (BBE) tells of the report of Epaphras to Paul of that church, "For this reason, we, from the day when we had word of it, keep on in prayer for you, that you may be full of the knowledge of his purpose, with all wisdom and experience of the Spirit, Living uprightly in the approval of the Lord, giving fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"

We also are being made ready for eternity with God. Jude 1:24 and 25 (BBE) is a benediction which shows his desire for his readers to be made ready for heaven. "Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to give you a place in his glory, free from all evil, with great joy, To the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, let us give glory and honour and authority and power, before all time and now and for ever. So be it."

Another indicator of our sanctification is given in Titus 2:7 and 8 (BBE) which says, "In all things see that you are an example of good works; holy in your teaching, serious in behaviour, Saying true and right words, against which no protest may be made, so that he who is not on our side may be put to shame, unable to say any evil of us."

I could list more reasons but I'll keep those for my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Real followers of Christ seek to please him rather than themselves. This desire is so strong that even sinners notice our genuine service to our Lord.

On Saturday, I'll post about how Christians are often too timid to proclaim their faith. What a sad situation.

Monday, 18 March 2019

What is Sanctification?

The New Testament apostles all mentioned sanctification. What is sanctification? Why should we care about it? Here are several verses which explain what it is and why we need it.

Sanctification is the process which saints go through in order to make them more like Christ. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV), "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Being sanctified also means being separated from sin. The Bible in Basic English explains this clearly. Exodus 13:1 and 2 say, "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Let the first male child of every mother among the children of Israel be kept holy for me, even the first male birth among man or beast; for it is mine.'"

Exodus 31:13 (BBE) shows that all the people of Israel were to be sanctified. It says, "Say to the children of Israel that they are to keep my Sabbaths; for the Sabbath day is a sign between me and you through all your generations; so that you may see that I am the Lord who makes you holy."

As for sanctification in the New Testament, 1 Peter 3:15 and 16 (BBE) states, "But give honour to Christ in your hearts as your Lord; and be ready at any time when you are questioned about the hope which is in you, to give an answer in the fear of the Lord and without pride; Being conscious that you have done no wrong; so that those who say evil things about your good way of life as Christians may be put to shame." That, by the way, also shows another byproduct of sanctification.

Because our Lord wants us to be like children who improve as we age, 2 Peter 3:18 (KJV) admonishes, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."

But often times, Christians fail to change their infantile ways. Hebrews 5:12 and 13 (BBE) scolds, "And though by this time it would be right for you to be teachers, you still have need of someone to give you teaching about the first simple rules of God's revelation; you have become like babies who have need of milk, and not of solid food. For everyone who takes milk is without experience of the word of righteousness: he is a child."

I'll be writing more on this subject of growth in the knowledge and wisdom of Christ in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Just as a childish person is despised, so those who refuse to advance in their sanctification are pathetic.

On Thursday, I'll be blogging about how we can recognize the progress of our sanctification.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Saturday Song: The COLLECTORS, "I Must Have Been Blind"

This song is about somebody leaving the country and the simple life, then finding that living in the city wasn't where it's at. I'm sure we can all relate to the lyrics.

In a way, I did the same sort of thing. My family lived in a town but I moved to the city of Edmonton when I was a teenager. I lived there for thirty years until the noise and inconsiderate people drove me mad. Then I moved to a tiny hamlet where it's wonderfully quiet.

Listen to The Collectors song here.

Many folks do the same thing spiritually. They're raised as Christians but they wander away as teens. After years of feeling unfulfilled and running into many difficulties, they return to the faith. This time though, they own their own beliefs.

Jesus gave a good example of this in one of his most famous parables. A father's son wanted his share of the estate right away. That prodigal went to a far land and blew all his money on riotous living. When his cash ran out, so did his friends. He finally took a job feeding pigs but nobody fed him.

Luke 15:17 (KJV) says, "And when he came to himself, he said, 'How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!'"

We know the rest of the story. And just like that young man, people can return to Christ and be warmly received with open arms. John 6:37 (KJV) quotes Jesus as saying, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."

What do you think of this song and what I've written? I hope you'll leave me a comment.

On Monday, I'll post about what sanctification means and why we need it.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Why Must We Make Disciples?

In my previous post, I explained how we are to make disciples. Now I'd like to explain why we must mentor these new citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven.

First of all, Satan is eager to derail the trust of these novices. One method he uses is persecution. In Christ's parable of the sower, he demonstrated how some believers would be turned away from him. Using a planting analogy, Christ said in Matthew 13:5  and 6 (BBE), "And some of the seed went among the stones, where it had not much earth, and straight away it came up because the earth was not deep: And when the sun was high, it was burned; and because it had no root it became dry and dead."

It isn't just persecution which turns people away from belief in Christ. Paul warned in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 (BBE), "But the Spirit says clearly that in later times some will be turned away from the faith, giving their minds to spirits of deceit, and the teachings of evil spirits, Through the false ways of men whose words are untrue, whose hearts are burned as with a heated iron; Who keep men from being married and from taking food which God made to be taken with praise by those who have faith and true knowledge."

Sometimes believers care too much for this present world. As Paul reported in 2 Timothy 4:10 (KJV), "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia."

Other times, they want to hear what they desire rather than the truth. In 2 Timothy 4:3 and 4 (BBE), Paul wrote, "For the time will come when they will not take the true teaching; but, moved by their desires, they will get for themselves a great number of teachers for the pleasure of hearing them; And shutting their ears to what is true, will be turned away to belief in foolish stories."

The way to prevent new believers from leaving is through constant fellowship. Hebrews 10:23-25 (BBE) shows how. "Let us keep the witness of our hope strong and unshaking, for he is true who has given his word: And let us be moving one another at all times to love and good works; Not giving up our meetings, as is the way of some, but keeping one another strong in faith; and all the more because you see the day coming near."

This subject will also be part of my next book called You Think Your Going to Heaven? People must realize that serving our Lord and Master requires work and study. Otherwise we just end up lost in this world's entertainments and trials.

On Saturday, I'll post about a Canadian band's song regarding disappointment with city life.

Monday, 11 March 2019

How Do We "Make" Disciples?

This third part of the Great Commission is often neglected by evangelists. They go into all the world well and sometimes they baptize but they often forget to disciple new believers. Being a victim of such carelessness myself, I have a particular interest in discipleship. It's one reason I keep posting about these basics of the faith.

The first thing we need to do is teach these new believers to follow Christ. As he said in Matthew 16:24 (KJV), "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

The disciples of Christ certainly obeyed this Great Commission. Paul most of all was obedient to Christ. Even his critics acknowledged that fact. In Acts 24:5 (BBE), Tertulus said at Paul's trial, "For this man, in our opinion, is a cause of trouble, a maker of attacks on the government among Jews through all the empire, and a chief mover in the society of the Nazarenes."

Luke also showed how Paul and Barnabas went about making sure people stayed in the faith. Acts 14:21 and 22 (BBE) says, "And having made a number of disciples through the preaching of the good news in that town, they went back to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, Making strong the souls of the disciples, saying to them that they were to keep the faith, and that we have to go through troubles of all sorts to come into the kingdom of God."

Christ also has an eternal purpose for making disciples. Colossians 1:28 (KJV) reads, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:"

A day will come when we will be among a countless group in the presence of God Almighty. Revelation 7:9 and 10 (BBE) tells us, "After these things I saw a great army of people more than might be numbered, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and languages, taking their places before the high seat and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, and with branches in their hands, Saying with a loud voice, 'Salvation to our God who is seated on the high seat, and to the Lamb.'"

So lets work to bring in as many new citizens of the kingdom as God gives us. I certainly will do my best through my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? People need to know that persisting in Christ's service is what we're here for.

On Thursday I'll post about why we must make disciples. I touched on the reasons in this post but I want to explain further about the importance of discipleship.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Saturday Song: Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start the Fire"

What a brilliant piece of songwriting this is. Instead of telling a story, this song uses evocative names and phrases to create memories in people's minds.

Listen to this song and think about the events it brings to your mind.

This song is about various crises in recent history. They range from the Suez Crisis to heavy metal suicides. Iconic entertainers are also mentioned to help bring back the ambience of the time.

We also see that the ancient world had similar, and even worse, problems. Luke 13:1 to 5 (BBE) reports, "Now some people who were there at that time, gave him (Jesus) an account of how the blood of some Galilaeans had been mixed by Pilate with their offerings. And he, in answer, said to them, 'Are you of the opinion that these Galilaeans were worse than all other Galilaeans, because these things were done to them? I say to you, It is not so: but if your hearts are not changed, you will all come to the same end. Or those eighteen men who were crushed by the fall of the tower of Siloam, were they worse than all the other men living in Jerusalem? I say to you, It is not so: but if your hearts are not changed, you will all come to an end in the same way.'"

The Old Testament is one long history of Israel and her surrounding nations. But the biggest catastrophe in history was the world-wide flood. The world had become so wicked that the Lord destroyed it. We read in 1 Peter 3:20 (KJV) of those ancient victims, "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

Neither will this "fire" which Billy Joel sang about last for ever. An atomic fire will come and dissolve the universe. We see in 2 Peter 3:10 (KJV) how this fire will be kindled. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."

May we all be safely in the hands of Christ when this happens.

On Monday, I'll post about two kinds of baptism and why the second is superior to the first.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Why Must We Baptize?

The first part of my answer is obvious. Christ commanded us to do so. Mark 16:15 (BBE) says, "And he said to them (his disciples), 'Go into all the world, and give the good news to everyone.'"

But why must people be baptized? Part of the answer is explained in the above verse. Baptism is the first act of outward obedience by a new believer. We see this demonstrated by an Ethiopian eunuch who believed Philip when he explained the gospel to him. Acts 8:36 and 37 (BBE) relates, "And while they were going on their way, they came to some water, and the Ethiopian said, 'See, here is water; why may I not have baptism?' And he gave orders for the carriage to be stopped, and the two of them went down into the water, and Philip gave him baptism."

Baptism is also symbolic of being buried and resurrected with Christ. Romans 6:3 and 4(BBE) says, "Or are you without the knowledge that all we who had baptism into Christ Jesus, had baptism into his death? We have been placed with him among the dead through baptism into death: so that as Christ came again from the dead by the glory of the Father, we, in the same way, might be living in new life."

Then there's Ephesians 4:5 (KJV). "One Lord, one faith, one baptism," By the way, this shows how unifying baptism is in relation to all believers. It would also make a great bumper sticker text.

Some new believers might be confused by the baptism done by John who was the forerunner of Christ. His baptism was done as an act of repentance. But the baptism Christ preached superceded John's as being an act of obedience. Luke 7:29 (BBE) reads, "And all the people, and the tax-farmers, to whom John had given baptism, when they had knowledge of these things, gave glory to God"

By the way, the very next verse shows that the Pharisees were disobedient even to John's baptism. They derided what Christ said, thinking they needed no repentance.

John knew his baptism was inferior to Christ's. He said in Mark 1:8 (BBE)that, "I have given you baptism with water, but he will give you baptism with the Holy Spirit."

I'll be writing more about baptism, particularly the baptism of the Holy Spirit, in my next paperback called You Think You're Going to Heaven? It's something every serious Christian needs to understand.

On Saturday, I'll post about Billy Joel and his brilliantly-written song regarding history.

Monday, 4 March 2019

What is the Great Commission?

Many Christians mention what they call "the Great Commission" but I doubt they understand the fullness of its tri-fold purpose. I hope this month to publish what the Bible says about this most important command which Christ gave his followers.

After his resurrection, Jesus gave this directive to his disciples. Matthew 28:19 and 20 (BBE) reads, "Go then, and make disciples of all the nations, giving them baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to keep all the rules which I have given you: and see, I am ever with you, even to the end of the world."

There are three parts to the command. The first part is to go into all the world and preach the good news of salvation. Why, Apart from Christ commanding us to do so, must we do this? Paul sums this up logically in Romans 10:14 (BBE) which says, "But how will they give worship to him in whom they have no faith? and how will they have faith in him of whom they have not had news? and how will they have news without a preacher?"

Paul and Barnabas also told the Jewish leaders in Acts 13:47, (BBE) saying, "For so the Lord has given us orders, saying, I have given you for a light to the Gentiles so that you may be for salvation to the ends of the earth."

But does this apply to us in the twenty-first century? It sure does. Scripture says in Acts 2:38 and 39 (BBE), "And Peter said, 'Let your hearts be changed, every one of you, and have baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will have the Holy Spirit given to you. For the word of God is for you and for your children and for all those who are far off, even all those who may be marked out by the Lord our God."

Salvation is for every single person throughout the world and this current age. Colossians 3:11 (KJV) explains, "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

What a wonderful promise this is. And because the Internet lets us reach anybody who has a social media account and e-mail, we can reach practically all the world.

I'll explain further about this when I publish my book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Like Star Trek's prime directive, we who place our trust in Christ are bound by this command from our Lord and Master.

On Thursday, I'll post about the second part of this commission: baptism.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Saturday Song: Klaatu, "California Jam"

Long-time readers of this blog will doubtless remember all the predictions charismatic preachers made of how the west coast of North America was supposed to slide into the Pacific. Various doomsday prophets kept repeating this idea and many Christians accepted it as being a genuine prophecy.

Even the Canadian band Klaatu got into the act. In their debut hit, they sang of how California would someday be "one sweet memory."

Hear the song here.

So will this actually happen? I highly doubt it since those who claim this to be true have an aberrant understanding of Holy Scripture.

Look at the criteria for being a true prophet. Deuteronomy 18:22 (KJV) says, "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

But what if a prophet says something and it does happen by chance? Either he or she was a good guesser or the Lord is testing people by that prophet's lies. Deuteronomy 13:1 to 3 reads, "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, 'Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;' Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul."

How wonderful it is that we have the scriptures to guide us. We'd be drowning in false doctrines if not for the sure word from the Lord. His word is solid and dependable, unlike the wavering values of this world.

On Monday, I'll post about what "the Great Commission" is. Christians use this phrase often but what does it really mean?