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Archive for March, 2012

 

Do you really believe the doctrine that one prayer could save you forever – no matter what?

Let’s take a look at a doctrine I can speak to from the point of having believed it for my first twenty-seven years (or from whenever I started listening in Sunday School, at least). If it’s clearly taught in the Word of God, then it’s a viable doctrine. If it isn’t, then it’s a dangerous one, no matter how popular it is.

Matthew 18 records the story of a “certain king” (notice Jesus didn’t say this was a parable, but a story about a certain king) who would have sold a debtor and his family to pay his debts, but instead spared him and forgave the debt when he pleaded for mercy. The forgiven man then showed no mercy to another who owed him a small amount, and the enraged king, upon hearing of the wicked servant’s actions, delivered him to the tormentors until all could be paid. Jesus then warned, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” He’s talking about being delivered to the tormentors, which sure sounds like hell to me, and saying it would happen to his followers. Now, I don’t know about you, but all the situations that resulted in me needing to forgive someone didn’t happen before I came to God. As a person who has experienced his saving power and obeyed his word to be saved, I still have had major instances of needing to forgive. I believe I’m on safe ground in saying you have as well. So if you don’t forgive, and you die, knowing you’ve harbored unforgiveness in your heart, are you saying you should be able to stand before a Holy God, who robed himself in flesh and died on a cross to make a way for your sins, and expect him to let you in to his heaven, rather than to do what he said he would do, and deliver you to the tormentors? Isn’t it safer to believe that one has to repent of sin and forgive others that we might be forgiven, before we meet him face to face?

There are dozens of scriptures that could be used to challenge you to think about what you’re saying when you try to explain why “believers” are “eternally secure” after they pray a prayer to ask Jesus into their heart (which, I must say, though I’m not just writing with the intention of offending people, is not ever recorded as happening in the Bible). I know if you believe that, then my merely bringing it up is inflammatory. But if that’s what the Bible teaches, you have nothing to worry about. The question is, does the Bible teach that?

Consider these scriptures:

• 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
•1 John 2:24-25
Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. [And this is the promise that he hath promised us, ] even[ eternal life.]
•Colossians 1:20-23 (KJV)
20[And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, ] I say[, whether ] they be[ things in earth, or things in heaven.] 21[And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in ] your[ mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled] 22[In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:] 23If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

There are others, to be sure, but notice the common thread here: “if”. It’s being used to denote salvation at the end of life, if the faithfulness of the believer continues to the end of life.

Now, certainly there are those who argue that these scriptures mean something else, and faithfulness doesn’t count as a requirement for salvation. Revelation 17:1 says: These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.  I believe everyone gets a call; people are chosen based on their response (obedience) to the call; being chosen isn’t enough without being faithful to obey until the end.  Matthew 10:22-23 says: And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

I certainly agree that no man can pluck me out of his hand (John 10:28-29), but he never said I couldn’t walk out. No man can separate me from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39), but an example is given of Demas, mentioned two places as a fellow laborer and as working beside one of the most faithful laborers, Luke. In another scripture, however, he is later said by Paul to have forsaken him, “having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:2). Now, 1John 2:15 says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Do you believe taking the same path Demas took would put me in a safe position to stand in judgement before a God I had shown I didn’t love, by choosing my love for the world over serving him?

1 John 2:3-5 says:
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. [He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.] [But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.]

Galatians 6:7-8 says it very plainly:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

God is love, and he will always love us; but he is also holy, and requires that we live holy lives as well (“Follow peace with all men, and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14).

God’s word clearly teaches that we are responsible to continue in obedience to him after we come to know him, if we hope to hear him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. (Matthew 25:23).

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Who do you listen to? Everyone claims to be telling the “truth”, from the vile people who say it’s alright to practice abominations, such as homosexuality, and still fill their spineless pulpits, to the real men of God who preach what “Thus saith the word of God” without fear or favor, week in and week out.

So much goes under the banner of “Truth”these days that it’s no wonder many people believe it’s best to carve out some set of ideas they’re comfortable with and stick with that: Don’t dig too deeply, don’t rock the boat, just be good, decent people and the rest will work itself out. People all too often have been stung. They are jaded, and they try clinging to what they know, even in times when it seems not to work that well for them at all.

One major intent of this writer is to point readers to the word of God for the answers to questions about faith. Does the Bible itself speak on this question? Were we intended to “do the best we could” when getting the answers that matter most in life? Or did God leave a clear plan for how to live our lives and to know what he expects from us? What gauge can be used to know who’s telling the truth about God’s word?

Let’s start with some basics:
• God’s word is truth (Psalm 119:142,151, John 17:17)
• we can know truth (John 8:32)
• God rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6)
• God had a plan for insuring that truth would be passed on to future believers undiluted.

Let’s look at that plan:
• God spoke through the prophets from the time of creation until he robed himself in flesh to be born of a virgin, and he then spoke through his Son — Hebrews 1:1-2
• he gave the disciples his word — John 17:14, often explaining to them privately about things the multitudes could not understand — Matthew 13:10-17
• he gave the keys to the kingdom to Peter — Matthew 16:13-19
• Jesus prayed for his disciples before his crucifixion and for all who would believe on him through their word. — John 17:20
• Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples after his resurrection , speaking unto them the things pertaining into the kingdom of God — Acts 1:3
• during those 40 days, Jesus opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures — Luke 24:45.
• Peter preached the first message of salvation to 3000 souls who gladly received and obeyed his word on the Day of Pentecost, the day the church was born — Acts 2:14-41
• from that point on, God manifested his word through preaching by the men to whom he had given his word — Titus 1:3
• the Apostles instructed those they taught to commit the things they heard from them to faithful men who would teach others also — 2 Timothy 2:2

Follow the pattern here: God’s word was given to faithful men throughout time, who would bring it to the next generation through preaching. The legal system uses a concept known as a “chain of custody”. This involves the process of taking vital evidence from the beginning point where it’s collected, then transferring it to those who are to analyze or detail the facts on it, and then delivering it to those who store it until court convenes, while tightly copntrolling access to it along the way. Courts require strict documentation to verify where evidence has been, and to insure no one has tampered with it or altered it in any way at any stage of the process.

God’s word has been preserved by a divinely designed chain of custody, insuring you and I have access to the original information, undiluted and unaltered. What the Apostles preached is the same from the time of the birth of the church after Jesus left the word with them, as documented in the Book of Acts (2:38), to the confirmation of this word through letters addressed to established churches in Romans through 3 John, to the book of the prophecy of the end of all things, where God sternly warns in Revelation 22:19,
“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”, to this present time.

There is a group of people who continue to preach the original Apostles’ Doctrine that requires repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness and cleansing) of sins and the required infilling of the Holy Ghost, first preached by Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38), and confirmed by the other Apostles and the men they taught the word to throughout the remainder if the Bible as well. These people continue to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as the original church did.

The problem is that all along the way, groups of people who were not able to change the original message have offered copies which they claimed were even better than the original. These generic alternative gospels teach that those who are baptized shouldn’t be concerned as to whether this is done by calling the name of Jesus over them as the Apostles always did or the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as they say it means the same thing. They teach that speaking in tongues as the evidence of salvation ended with the early church, or they confuse it with the “gift of tongues” that God uses to speak to the church. No wonder people don’t know who to believe. To make matters worse, this generic form of religion was institutionalized by Constantine at the Council of Nicea, and the Catholic Church continued the copy and attempted to stamp out the original. History confirms that, despite this effort, there was always a group of people who continued to teach Jesus’ Name Baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, despite persecution from the Catholic Church (recorded in older versions of the Catholic Encyclopedia of History). Martin Luther “reformed” aspects of this doctrinal copy, but fell short of returning to the original doctrine of the Apostles.

The problem is that most people grew up learning about the copy, just as I did. My personal struggle to reconcile the differences was monumental, but in the end, the power of God won out and I was baptized in the name of Jesus and received the gift if the Holy Ghost with the evidence if speaking in other tongues and have witnessed the power of God that comes with the original for over 25 years.

What does one do when there dawns a suspicion that what had always been held by them to be truth has trouble standing up to a clearer presentation of the Word of God? Some will, predictably, shrug off the discord that brings and cling to what they know, slowly forgetting how it felt to get uncomfortable thinking about what they believe, adding layers of insulating explanations for why what they’ve seen can’t really be what God meant for them. A few, however, will begin to look more and more into the perfect law of liberty, diligently searching the scriptures to see whether these things be true, and most importantly, having sincere hunger for truth that wants God to lead them in the way He is pleased with, and showing that they are willing to obey whatever He shows them, no matter how different it is from what they had once believed.

God deals with people as individuals. It is not unusual to see one person in a family or circle of friends to be stirred for more of God, and be faced with the choice of whether to seek God for more of what he’s showing them or stay where they’re comfortable. What will you choose?

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When do we come to the “knowledge of the truth” that the Apostle Paul speaks of in 2 Timothy 3: 7?

I used to find that an unsettling question. I loved learning new things, and prided myself on being open to reading books and listening to people teaching about the Bible. I felt that was a good thing to pursue.  And yet, when I heard or read that passage of scripture, which says more completely, “Ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”, I felt almost agitated, as though there was something there that challenged me, and if I were honest with myself, made me more afraid than I wanted to admit. The passage was part of Paul’s description of people who were not right with God in the last days.

I didn’t want that to be me, but wasn’t sure how to know if it was or not. There was a haunting feeling that it could be: that even though I believed in Jesus, had “made a profession of faith”, and had been told that was all I ever needed to go to heaven, that there could still be something God was expecting of me that I didn’t yet see or understand. This sense of questioning, prompted by this scripture, was very real to me and persisted over a period of several years.

“Ever learning” is a description championed by the world today. Seeking truth is championed, but claiming to have found truth that is exclusive of what others believe is considered to be suspect. Yet I knew God’s word says, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

The amazing thing is that for me in my search for truth (although at the time I didn’t realize that it was actually Truth searching for me) life brought me into contact with some people who believed that what the Apostle Peter said on the Day of Pentecost to people who were asking “Men and brethren what shall we do?”, was God’s plan for this day as well.

Peter said, quite simply, that we must repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38). You can’t begin to know the joy that filled my heart when, after praying and carefully counting the cost, I repented (gave up any claim I thought I had to “hold on” to some parts of my life while trying to give God the rest), was re-baptized in the name of Jesus (because his name wasn’t used in baptism in the church I had been a part of) and God gloriously filled me with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues (his design is to leave no doubt that his Spirit had come into an individual, so there is a “sound” when one is born if the Spirit -John 3:8).

After this experience, and all the wonderful days of walking with the Lord over these past 25 years, I have never again felt concern over the scripture that warns of those who are ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Jesus said, “And Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) When I stopped settling for the idea that “there are lots of ‘truths’, and you should never give yourself fully to any one of them, God was able to fill me with the Truth (“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, John 14:6; “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none if his.” Romans 8:9), and to give me “the love of the truth” as spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:10. It took action on my part, to obey what he had shown me, as opposed to simple “mental assent” that his word was true, for truly believing anything requires acting on it (as the Word said, “faith without works is dead” in James 2:26).

The Holy Ghost message of Acts 2:38 is for you. Don’t settle for anything less, or find yourself “ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Come visit us at

First Pentecostal Church of the Lord Jesus Christ

Bay Springs, MS

Church the way it was meant to be…

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God with His skin on?

God with his skin on? What in the world is that about?

 

The Apostles, whose actions and preaching are recorded in the book of Acts, obeyed Jesus’ Great Commission (which says in part, “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost…” Matthew 28:19) by baptizing exclusively in the name of Jesus. How was this obedience? Most churches today teach that the repetition of Jesus’ statement in baptism is the correct response to the commandment, saying “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” when baptizing someone. This was never recorded as being said during an actual baptism recorded in the Bible. So what accounts for the difference?

I was raised in a church that taught a concept of God as being in “three persons”, known as the “trinity”. For anyone to challenge that doctrine to me created great suspicion regarding their background or teaching. After coming to a point in my life being stirred to seek God more deeply for the truth in His word, I encountered a group of people who taught this differently, and God was very evident in their lives. After receiving an understanding of how the Apostles baptized people in the Bible, I obeyed the gospel message of Acts 2:38, by repenting, being water baptized in Jesus’ name and was filled with the Holy Ghost, but still did not fully understand the difference in what my original denomination had been saying about the Godhead, and what Apostolic Pentecostals taught.

When God opened my understanding, I realized that when my denomination had said “Jesus is God”, they essentially meant that is what He is – that He is divine or has a divine nature. When the Pentecostals said “Jesus is God” they were referring to His identity – God is who He is.

Think on the following references:
1) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,… (2 Corinthians 5:19)
2) …God was manifest in the flesh…(1Timothy 3:16)
3) No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18)
4) God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person…(Hebrews 1:1-3)
5) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.(Colossians 1:15)
6) I and my Father are one. (John 10:30) …he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; (John 14:9)
7) Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast prepared me: (Hebrews 10:5)

Jesus told the woman at the well (John 4:24): “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” He told his disciples after his resurrection, “…a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.”(Luke 24:39)

There had to be a sacrifice for sin — a death. The Spirit of God could not die, so in the plan and mind of God, there was the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) born of a virgin, “conceived of the Holy Ghost”. In other words, God didn’t have flesh and bones, so “a body he prepared” that could be tempted, hunger, thirst, bleed, die, be buried and raised again. As one child put it, when asked who Jesus is, “Jesus is God with his skin on“.

Around Christmas time, we hear Isaiah 9:6 quoted frequently: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” We have no problem agreeing this scripture refers to Jesus, but do we also agree that it plainly calls him The mighty God and The everlasting Father? How many can there be? Paul said in Ephesians 4:5-6, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Sounds like one to me.

” If any man confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh…”

The Apostles knew fully well who Jesus was: God in flesh, and they had no problem whatsoever understanding that the name of Jesus name satisfied the equation of one name to fill the commandment of Jesus regarding baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (“there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby you must be saved” Acts 4:12). That is why, in all the books of Acts (where all the accounts of baptisms being performed after the birth of the church are recorded), there is no reference to anyone being baptized the way my former denomination baptizes, by repeating the commandment. Look for yourself – it isn’t there.

Now, is this just “Bible trivia”? Or does it matter? The Word will judge us at the last day. Do we dare take for granted that “there must be some other explanation” or that if your preacher says it’s ‘different now’, then you can trust that?

If this stirs you to seek for more truth in God’s word, I encourage you to request a personal Bible study to look at the scriptures more closely, and to ask God to guide you as you seek for Him.

(All scriptures above from the King James Version).

Come visit us at

First Pentecostal Church of the Lord Jesus Christ

Bay Springs, MS

Church the way it was meant to be…

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If you’ve ever wondered, “What’s up with Pentecostals?  What is they believe that they’re so fired up about? Is there really a difference in them and the rest of us who are in church every Sunday, besides the way they worship and the way they look?”

Here’s a little overview of what we believe about salvation:

1) Jesus’ teachings and ministry are recorded in the 4 gospels, where he laid the foundation for the church that would not start until after his death, burial and resurrection, saying “Except a man be born of water and spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

2) The men Jesus taught and trained to carry out his plans for the church got it right when they obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18, Luke 24:45-49) by preaching one gospel message: “repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of  sins (birth of water) and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (birth of Spirit)”, and the accounts of people being told how to be saved and obeying the gospel are recorded in the book of Acts (2:37-42, 8:14-17,10:44-49,19:1-7, among others).

3). The letters to the churches written after the book of Acts were addressed to people who had already obeyed the gospel, and were not intended to be the place to find out how to get saved (because the people they were written to had already done that), but they support the message preached in Acts, saying “If any man preach any other gospel let let him be accursed.”(Gal.1:6-9)

If the church started on the Day of Pentecost, are you part of a church that’s still preaching the gospel message preached that day? 

Don’t settle for a “no-name” gospel (many churches only repeat Jesus words in Matt. 28:19 in baptism, rather than obeying them by using the name of Jesus as the Apostles always did when they baptized).

(There are many other scriptures that could be given, but these were used for the sake of being brief. )

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