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Archive for June, 2012

Things left alone in the water drift downstream, not up — nor do they stay in one place. Drift is similar to what happens when a woodworker cuts from the last piece of wood that had been cut, instead of cutting from the original pattern.  Naturally, this causes the dimensions of the pieces to gradually be more and more “off”. It might take some time to notice a difference between the finished pieces and the original. If one that was cut from the last piece and not the pattern was all you’d seen you could assume it was the original, and that the original was actually too small. Without someone proving to you which one was cut to be the pattern, what reference point would you have to know which was real? If the practice continued over time, the pieces would only continue to get larger or broader than they were intended to be (Matthew 7:13).

A parallel to this can be seen in cultural patterns based on what is accepted as being right. They tend to gradually shift, with people effectively gauging what’s alright now from the “last cut”, rather than from the original. Hollywood didn’t go from Mayberry RFD to what’s running now in one season (I prefer to skip their influence altogether).  Is this improvement?  Some think so, but most just accept it as a “sign of the times”.  I submit that it is a symptom of the dangerous “drift” in our culture.

In drift, each change is linked to the last one. Things that are commonly discussed in the news these days did not suddenly jump to the forefront of thought. One change broke the surface and culture processed it, thought about it, fought over it, but finally assented to it — not necessarily standing up to say “this is great, everyone should  do it this way…”, but rather “it’s ok” or “‘it’s not that bad, really”.  That is drift. It could not have happened all at one time.

Truth is exactly opposite of drift. It began when God spoke it, and is the same now. God is not waiting for the latest trend to tell you what you need to do.  Yet many people base their experiences and even their doctrine on what began as drift from the original.

How do you know the difference?

Drift has to be justified, which may sound like this: “Even though some think the Bible teaches that [x, y, z behavior] is wrong, if you take this scripture and pair it with that one, it shows that it really is not that bad.”  Truth does not require justification: Thou shalt not = that’s against God’s laws and standards.  Standards of conduct, dress, etc. that are relevant for today can be found in scripture, for those who will take them as truth, just as they are. If they are taken to mean what they say and are applied that way, then the fact is:  they work that way.

Another drift test is that if a particular belief or practice could easily be made to apply to everyone without something necessary or needful being lost, then it closer to truth.  If it’s only accepted in society, but couldn’t be applied to everyone without something being lost, then I submit that it represents drift.  One current debate is over gay marriage:  if it were made mandatory (the only type marriage allowed – God forbid), there would be no next generation.  If on the other hand, monogamous heterosexual marriage were applied to everyone (made the only acceptable standard), then cultures would be able to thrive and continue as they have for thousands of years.

There is a parallel also in the application of God’s word. When the apostles preached and taught and practiced their new faith and people responded, this is the documentation of the original (the Acts of the Apostles). First expressed in Acts 2:38, the doctrine of repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost was the only means of salvation preached in their day.  Their doctrine was practiced exclusively by the church for at least 150 years. That’s the point at which “educated men” began to teach that, as the apostles were “uneducated”, they were not the most qualified to teach doctrine, and gradually turned some of the church followers to baptizing in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost rather than the name of Jesus.  The concept that the apostles who were directly taught of Jesus were not qualified to teach doctrine could not be further from the truth, but by 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea had institutionalized the drift of the church, and the men who advocated the original were prevented from having a voice in the debate and their works burned.

This was effectively the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church, which many years later had continued to drift to the point of even leaving its own founding principles, so that a Reformation movement was begun by Martin Luther.  Though this movement did many things to remove corruption from the organized church, it did not return it to the pre-AD 150 doctrine of the original apostles.

Upstream

Charles Sheldon’s classic novel, In His Steps, details the choice of a group of people to look at where they had drifted to, and decidedly turn upstream. Their choice to weigh their every action by the teachings of Jesus, and only do what they believed he would have done, took them immediately into the face of those around them: people who, only the day before, they were no different from.  Finding one’s way to the original from the drift has the same effect today.

So what do you choose? Would a return to the practice of the apostles’ original plan be going back to the pattern your spiritual experience was meant to be cut from? There are those who believe so, and live that way today.  Learn more about what they are living and teaching by clicking the link, or if you’re in the neighborhood, join us at:

First Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ

Bay Springs, MS

By the grace of God, we’re getting to experience a taste of

Church the way it was meant to be…

and glad to know there’s more where that came from!

Leave a comment and let me know what you’re thinking!

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No, we’re not headed to Missouri this day, just borrowing their fine motto for a few minutes. You know — in the sense of “Back up what you’re saying”, “Prove it”, “Give me an example”, and such like. These days you’d better have some back-up to what you’re agreeing to, or you could end up in a world of trouble and loss!

One picture’s worth a thousand words.

Even if it’s a word picture, a verbal or written play-by-play of something that occurred can go a long way toward explaining an idea or making it clear. If we can see an example of what someone’s talking about, their intentions in what they were trying to say become so much clearer. We can apply that same concept, by using the simple standard of “show me where that happened in the Bible”, to evaluate most any claim about something the Bible says.

Most people who study at all can show you some scriptures to support what they believe, or at least why they don’t believe  something that contradicts what they’re familiar with. But one framework that often fails to support what someone is alleging to be true in scripture is asking them for an example of that particular thing happening in the Bible, particularly when it comes to the experience of becoming part of the kingdom of God.

The apostles said it

The apostles who wrote several New Testament books, Paul, James and Jude, referred to things that had happened in the scriptures that were available to them (what now makes up our Old Testament) as examples for the believers to whom they were writing to follow. 1 Corinthians 10, Hebrews 8, James 10, and Jude 1 all record references to examples from those who had served God before them. For us, the writings of the apostles, as well as those of the men who wrote the Old Testament, along with the documentation of their actions in the Book of Acts, provide us with examples of what they did and what they meant by the things they said.

Show me

I used Bing search engine to query “How to be saved”. You want to guess how many responses it turned up? 2.82 BILLION. Google lagged way behind with only 391 MILLION. Now, I have to say that I didn’t take time to read them all, but I can pretty much imagine they didn’t all agree with one another.  I assure you the ones I did read briefly varied widely and even wildly. Is that a problem? If I’d landed here from another culture and wanted to know what I needed, would I be able to trust whatever might turn up on Bing, Google, or other search engines, or whoever I might cross paths with? How would I know what to trust?

How about, seeing whether there are examples of those things that are touted as ways to be saved actually occurring in the Word of God, the Bible? Wait; you’re saying there are examples in the  Bible of people getting saved? Show me!

Where did all the examples of people getting saved in the Bible occur? They are recorded in the Book of Acts (the “Acts of the Apostles” is the full title, documenting what they did, including what they preached, and how people responded to it).

What examples are there?

Acts 2:  The church is born on the Day of Pentecost; Peter preaches a 3-step plan: 1) Repent, 2) be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, 3) receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 38). 3000 respond by gladly receiving his word and being baptized, thus being added unto the church (no reasonable person could assert that they were documented as being “added unto them” by doing anything other than what Peter had just preached).

Acts 8: Phillip preaches in Samaria; the people receive his teaching and are baptized in the name of Jesus.  Peter and John come and lay hands on them and they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

Acts 10: Peter preaches to the household of the Cornelius, a Roman centurion an a gentile; while he’s preaching the Holy Ghost falls on all of them and they receive the Holy Ghost and speak with other tongues. Peter commands them to be baptized in the name of Jesus.

Acts 19: Paul finds believers who only knew about John’s baptism of repentance, and had not yet received the Holy Ghost.  When Paul explained to them what they needed to do they were rebaptized by Paul in the name of Jesus, and they received the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues.

So there are various examples of people getting into the church, they body of Christ, by hearing the word preached, being baptized in Jesus name, and receiving the Holy Ghost. Repentance came in that they turned from what they had been believing and practicing, and received (agreed with) the word of the apostles preaching to them, but forming the basis for the rest of their obedience to the word, not the total experience.

OK, but where is…

Where is there evidence of someone being told they could get into the body of Christ, the church by  “accepting Jesus as their personal Savior” or evidence of someone actually doing that?  I’m not trying to be intentionally rude, but I can’t find an example of anyone getting saved that way in the Bible. Ok, but is the concept there?  Well, I see the concept of our being accepted or chosen by him (“accepted in the beloved” Ephesians 1:6, “acceptable into God” (Romans 12:1), “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you” (John 15:16),  “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Is that all?

Other things you won’t find examples of people doing in the New Testament include: People actually being baptized in titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Surprised?  Look for yourself — it simply didn’t occur in the historical record.

So?

So, just think: if some of the things commonly accepted today don’t line up to the “Show me” test, maybe you need to re-look at where your own personal experience lines up with the examples.

I heard a song this week with a line that said: “there are 35,000 versions of Christianity” (my apologies to the songwriter/artist — I didn’t catch the name, but that line stood out to me).  If that’s true (and I didn’t Google that one), how many of those “versions” do you think line up to the original?  Where does your “version” stand in that regard?

I’d love to hear what you think.  Feel free to comment, ask a question, or request more information.

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Seeing is believing, right?  What you see is what you get….isn’t it? In nature, this tends to be true: we’re often fond of saying, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck!”  Sometimes, though, what looks for all the world like a pile of leaves can be a “pile” of rattlesnake or some other well-camouflaged dangerous creature!

Do these things have a parallel in the Word of God?  Are we taught in the Word to trust what we see in things pertaining to the kingdom of God? What does Jesus say, and what did the apostles teach to the churches they started in the Book of Acts?

It’s a mystery

Do you know how many times the word “mystery” comes up in a Bible software search (I use “Tecarta”)?  I count twenty-two times. When you take out the two references in Revelation to things such as Babylon the Great and the woman called the “whore” and the meanings of those, there are still twenty references that specifically deal with the Kingdom of God.  So, what’s God saying when his Word talks about a “mystery”?

American Heritage Dictionary includes several definitions, one of which seems to put it well in this context: “A religious truth that is incomprehensible to reason and knowable only through divine revelation.”  Dictionary.com includes the phrase: “any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.”

So how do people come by the “divine revelation” required to know the mysteries of God?

Jesus said it this way

When his disciples asked him about a parable he’d just given to the multitudes, he advised those closest to him:

“…Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4: 11-13)

Now before you decide that God doesn’t really want anyone to  live for him or know truth but some select few, listen to how he elaborated on this same answer as recorded by another disciple, Matthew:

“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13:11-15

The last portion speaks of a choice on the part of the hearers, to close their own eyes, and of a change in hearing and the state of their heart that occurred over time: either being intentionally done, or allowed to happen that way.  They no longer had the “fire in their belly” we speak of today to follow God with all their heart and to “know” him, as David expressed the longing to do in many of his songs recorded in the Book of Psalms.

And you’re bringing this up, because…?

Lots of people look at the word of God and say, “OK, I see some things there I can do, I can live with.” Their lives actually change, based on what they’ve seen in the Word of God.  But when faced with the concept that there’s more there than meets the eye about salvation, who God is, and what he expects from us, they have a choice to make:  “No, thanks, I’m good” vs. “Wow, I didn’t know that was in there – if there’s more for me, I want it!”

I don’t intend to belittle such serious choices by that description, but Jesus went on to say, in Matthew 13, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (v. 18)  Who was he saying this to? To the people who left off a whole day’s plowing or working on their house to sit and listen to him? Or to the people who had “left all and followed him”? At that point in time, his disciples, who had all their “skin in the game” as we say today, were the only ones who could see and understand the truth he was giving.  It hinged on a condition of the heart and of  a willingness to be obedient to all that was heard and seen, based on how they’d handled what they knew before this.  God didn’t just look at them and know what was in their hearts and call them based on that (although he could have), nor did he reject the others and hide his word from them on a whim.  He saw what they had been doing with what they already knew of him.

So what else is there to know?

Paul spoke of knowing the “deep” or “hidden” things of God by the Spirit of God, in 1 Corinthians 2.  He spoke of the “mystery of godliness:  God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).  He said “God” was manifest in the flesh, in a description that clearly speaks of Jesus.  He spoke of the “mystery…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  In these “mystery” scriptures, Paul interchangeably speaks of God doing all the things Jesus did (coming in the flesh) and of Jesus doing what the Holy Ghost does (being in us).  The revelation of Jesus being the One God manifest in the flesh, in whom dwells “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” Colossians 2:9, which makes baptizing in his name only — the name of Jesus, for “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none under name under heaven whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) —  the answer of a good conscience before God (1 Peter 3:21). 

For more information, for a personal Bible study, or to hear the original gospel message preached with power, visit us at:

First Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ

Bay Springs, MS

By the grace of God, we’re getting to experience a taste of

Church the way it was meant to be…

and glad to know there’s more where that came from!

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All done!

Done, complete, over, through, accomplished, FINISHED! Doesn’t it feel good get done with something? A job you’ve worked on, something you began and couldn’t even picture the end of when you started? There are a lot of things we’re not particularly excited about doing to begin with, so the end of them is a time of rejoicing! Other things we enjoy and are sad to see end. Either way, reaching a sense of completion is part and parcel of who we are–how we’re made up.

This reality flows through the Word of God as well.  Think about these accounts:

  • God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, and they were FINISHED (Genesis 2:1).
  • Moses made the tabernacle in the wilderness and FINISHED the work (Exodus 40:33).
  • Moses wrote all the works of the law until they were FINISHED (Deuteronomy 31:24).
  • Joshua FINISHED all the words the Lord by Moses commanded him to speak to the people (Joshua 4:10).
  • Solomon built the temple, the house of the Lord, and FINISHED it (1 Kings 6:14).
  • Nehemiah built the wall around a ruined Jerusalem and FINISHED it (Nehemiah 6:15).
  • The Jews released from exile rebuilt the destroyed temple under Ezra’s leadership and FINISHED it (Ezra 6:15).
  • Babylonian king Belshazzar drank from the holy vessels of the house of God in a drunken feast, but  God told him Belshazzar he had numbered his kingdom and FINISHED it (fulfilled by his death in an unexpected enemy invasion that very night). (Daniel 5:25)
  • Jesus said in the prayer for his disciples the night before his crucifixion that he had FINISHED the work he came to do (John 17:4 and 19:30)
  • Jesus’ last breath from the cross declared the completion of what the body of his mortal flesh was born to do, crying as he died: “It is FINISHED!”
  • Daniel in his prophesy, and John in his Revelation, spoke of all things, and the mystery of God, being FINISHED. (Daniel 12:7, Revelation 10:7)

The BIG Picture

The earth was never made to last forever. God has described its end for thousands of years, but in the coming of his Son, the Godhead robed in flesh, he made a way for all of us who obey him to be translated into the Kingdom of God. Those in his Kingdom, who are living in obedience to his word at the time these things unfold will witness the end of all things victoriously, as those who “have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Do you love his appearing? Are you excited about his return? Really excited to know the earth that is groaning and travailing until it is delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God?

The classic book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, provided an overview of an alternate “world” that successive groups of children were allowed to see being created, inhabited, populated over generations and finally facing its “Last Battle”. The final book in the series by that title portrays the end of the world of Narnia and the eternal rest of those who have been the faithful in its various spans of time. The series allows one an overview of the natural process of a fictional world, with its end being as natural and real as its beginning.

If we look at it this way, the events foretold in Revelation and other prophetic writings in the Bible don’t seem like something foreboding or out-of-place: they are the natural end to what God began “In the beginning…”. It has to end, because it was begun with the end in mind. For those who are following the course of truth and righteousness God laid from the foundation of the world, the joy of the end anticipated is very real.  For those who aren’t, the foreboding is the perfectly appropriate response.

What now?

If you were to plant a garden, fertilize and water it, then sit back and put your feet up for a few weeks, what would happen? Would the seeds grow? Probably — but would they grow alone? Not likely. Maybe they would produce some vegetables, but you’d not be able to find them among all the weeds when it was time to harvest, right? What’s the remedy for that? Gotta’ work on it little every day, don’t you? Pull a few weeds here, plow the middles if you can, hoe the places you can get to that way. But doing nothing will inevitably bring disaster, because something will be happening whether you want to acknowledge it or not, won’t it?

Dave Ramsey, popular author and financial teacher, is prone to challenging his listeners and readers with sayings like, “Who knew Christmas was in December this year???!!!” Ok, so that’s ridiculous enough to get our attention on points like, “You know it’s coming, why aren’t you preparing for it?” Christmas is not an “emergency”, though some people borrow money, use a credit card or dip into savings to pay for it (OK, we’ve all done it, but then we’ve all done other financially unwise things as well sometime or other, right?). Christmas only became an “emergency” to us when we failed to acknowledge that it was coming, and that the wisest course of action was to sacrifice a little something in advance so that we’d be well ready and prepared when it arrived.

What’s your point?

Do these ideas have any relevance to the concept we’re talking about? Well, yes, they do. We know the end of all things is coming, whether for us first or for the world as a whole (at the same time or different times doesn’t really matter). But we behave as though we can sit back and let things progress without taking any action, and come out alright in the end.

Yet, sometimes we get wake-up calls: sitting with the mother of a two-year-old tragically lost to an accident or seeing the images of children fighting life-threatening illness at St. Jude’s — where the unthinkable that has become reality for some parents — the concept that our expectation of long life is only an expectation, not a guarantee, is once again drilled home.

The world is getting darker, the end is prophesied, and for the most part, the general public treat the idea as though it’s either a long way off, or just too frightening to think about.  Yet Jesus plainly told his followers, to “look up, for your redemption draweth nigh.” when they saw certain signs approaching.  My point is, if you’re dreading his return, or filled with dread of the end time,  that in itself is a wake-up call to “make your calling and election sure”.

So what do I do?

The Apostles obeyed Jesus’ commandments to go into all the world and preach the Gospel by preaching one Gospel message:  Repent ,and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38).  Peter, John, Phillip, Paul are all described as preaching and practicing this Gospel message exclusively. Paul said in Galatians 1:8 that no one, not even Paul himself, could change the Gospel that already had been preached by him.  Many claim that Paul’s writings in Romans and other books of the New Testament teach that believing alone, or confessing, etc. were all that the Gospel message contained.  The power that accompanied his true message as preached in the Book of Acts is absent from the teaching of these people.  A church that will preach Acts 2:38 as the method of salvation, and obeys the Word of God with regard to holiness, modesty and true Godly living, standing and contending for the faith, can provide you with a firm foundation for your life that will enable you to know that God will take his beloved, his elect bride through whatever things that are coming on the earth, and will bring us out of this world by his power and Spirit in his appointed time.  He will make our hearts right, and ready and able to “love his appearing”.

You can hear awesome preaching that will help you prepare for what’s to come at:

First Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ

Bay Springs, MS

By the grace of God, we’re getting to experience a taste of

Church the way it was meant to be…

and glad to know there’s more where that came from!

Read Full Post »

Love-hate, black-white, up-down, north-south, right-left, dark-light: these describe the reality of opposites.  Many bedrock decisions come down to two choices — you can’t do both at the same time.

The beginning of time was characterized by God dividing the darkness from the light.  God spoke of loving Jacob and hating Esau.  The three Hebrew children were told to bow or burn. Joshua told the people, “…choose you this day whom ye will serve;,,, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

There’s really not a middle ground in the most important decisions, though often we’d like to think there is.  We may prefer to put off dealing with uncomfortable ideas, concepts or challenges to our “comfort zone”, and feel in our hearts that we’ve found a place to blend two opposite choices — a gray area we can rest in.  In fact, though, to not choose is to choose.  When it comes to salvation, we have to be headed in a direction; we are in fact headed in a direction, no matter what we want to think.

Jesus said it this way: “And this is the condemnation: that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”  Now, that’s strong.  No middle ground there.  We’re either coming closer to the light, or hating it.

Reality check:  what do you really feel about how you’re moving on that continuum?  If the thought is kind of irritating to you, may be it’s time to search out some things in your heart.  If self searching brings a humble realization of “God, that’s what I want – more light; please help me move in that direction”, there’s a good chance you already are moving in that direction, or will begin to.

Why did Jesus say everybody on earth wouldn’t want to be running to the light?  Because deep inside there was something they wanted to hold on to.  They didn’t want THAT MUCH of God: “Let’s not go overboard with this. I mean everybody has to sin a little every day don’t they?  What’s wrong with what I’m reading/watching/thinking/smoking/taking/saying….? Everybody else is doing things they’re not proud of, too. We can’t be perfect, after all, right?”  Rather than accept the beautiful plan God provides for us to truly live abundantly — above sin — they speak to those offering that plan as Esau did to Jacob, when he returned from Laban’s house, brining multiple gifts to Esau:  “I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.” (Gen. 33:9)

The scripture quoted in the beginning of this post is quite possibly not very familiar to many readers, yet it is the continuation of a statement Jesus made to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, which is very familiar to most:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Though some quote the verse as saying those who believe shall not perish, Jesus literally said those who believe should not perish. There is still a choice involved on the part of the believer: God has no captive audiences; whatever road we’ve started down with him is a two-way street.  We can continue to move toward the light and salvation, or turn back toward darkness and death.  Note, too, that believing is not simply mental assent or acknowledgement that Jesus came or that he was the Son of God, or that his death was for my sins, that his love moved him to do so, that he wants my response and my life so that he can give me life in return.  Believing those things, stirring as they are, are only the beginning of the process of salvation.  Unfortunately many teach that the entire process of salvation is contained in that initial response of being stirred and even repenting as a result of believing. People’s experience often dies on the vine, like a beautiful bloom that was meant to produce fruit, but was affected by drought or some kind of pestilence that caused it to fail to reach maturity.  Obedience to the plan of God is required to complete the salvation process, and the only complete instruction directed to lost people in the New Testament that produced salvation was the message contained in Acts 2:38, and echoed in the remainder of the Book of Acts, then supported by every epistle written to churches after the close of that book: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Our world, our nation is in horrible shape spiritually.  The easy-believism that says you don’t have to really do anything to be saved is not bringing revival to this world.  It too easily goes WITH rather than AGAINST the grain of society, in many cases even ordaining homosexuals to fill pulpits or failing to truly condemn this abomination, calling it a “lifestyle choice”. The majority of preaching today doesn’t tell people they have to quit sinning to be saved:  bottom line.  Oh they’ll tell you, “Don’t do the ‘big” things like murder or steal or commit adultery”. But the list of “big” sins is getting a lot smaller for them as time goes by, and pressure is applied to “accept” ungodliness (please note that “tolerance” and “acceptance” are not the same: “tolerance” affirms the right of people to practice ungodliness if they choose to, but “acceptance”  is agreeing that the choice to sin is just as good as the choice not to sin. Tolerance we’re fine with, but acceptance is something we will never do, by the grace of God).

In reality, a light has to shine brightly enough to be seen by those in need of help.  If a lighthouse fails to keep the glass of the mirror or windows clean, how will the light shine out to those in the storm? The “city set on a hill” can’t be tarnished, or the light of the world won’t be seen by those so desperate for the help a true saint of God can provide in pointing to the Cross.  But still, people seem to think the message taught in Acts 2:38 was only for the time the Apostles lived, and then was replaced by another gospel of “just believe”.

If the language of Latin were in use today– that is, if people spoke it, as opposed to only studying it as a basis for understanding other languages, or for other academic reasons — would it be considered a “dead” language?  No more than French, English, Spanish or any other modernly used language, right?  So if the fullness of the Gospel as preached in the original way by the Apostles still produces what the Book of Acts records it producing in their day, how can it be a plan that is no longer relevant for this day and hour?  Why would God have multiple plans of salvation?  If the original still works, why does he need another one? Or is it possible that the idea of “another gospel” is something that humanity constructed as a shade from the true light? A filter, if you will? Look through their “altered reality” and all that happened in the Book of Acts, and is still happening today, doesn’t look so convicting: I mean there are only a few people who still cling to that oneness doctrine, right?  Look at all the people who go to “regular” churches every Sunday: isn’t there safety in numbers? Beware of the consequences of “another gospel”, which, as the Apostle Paul said, “is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galations 1:7-9)  Again, strong words with no gray area at all.

This year our church has been blessed with more and more people who have seen in the Word of God the need for repenting, being baptized in the name of Jesus, and receiving the Holy Ghost.  Since the first of the year, seventeen new folks have been baptized in Jesus’ name, and God is pouring out the Holy Ghost on these people, as evidenced by their speaking in unknown tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance.  It’s happening today. Since choosing to be baptized in Jesus Name and being filled with the Holy Ghost, I’ve seen God moving in situations in the lives of these in a mighty way — not just a new way to worship or experience God in church or in private devotions: there is power that he brings to bear on needs that come up in their lives, as they see him move in ways they’ve not seen beforehand. I’m not talking about what someone has said to them or convinced them to believe, but God doing things only he could do, and in a way that had not been present in their lives before, no matter what type of church they attended, or how involved or faithful they were to what they understood of God. While some are walking away from the light, others are running toward it.

Do you truly, truly desire in your heart to be more and more holy and godly, to the point that anything you see hindering you would become disgusting to you, and you’d gladly leave it behind, if God would deliver you from it?  Those are the people who get deliverance at an altar — the ones who begin to see their sin as a barrier to the glorious holy God they are seeking, and then find that habits, practices, addictions or even strong preferences for enjoyable but ungodly activities — things once seeming to be a part of the fabric of who they were, something they’d never part with — suddenly become gross and vile in their own sight and not welcome in their  heart and life, and they want nothing to do with them, but rather to put the most distance possible between themselves and those things!  They turn and head the other way.  Is this how you feel about things that would block you or hold you back on your way to God?  When you are that willing, then you are truly headed toward the light.  Otherwise, you’re slowly inching toward darkness, casting a glance over your shoulder at the light, reminding yourself once again of the reasons “that wouldn’t work for me”.  But what you’re failing to realize is that Jesus said if it “won’t work for you”, it’s because you loved darkness rather than light, because of the nature of your deeds.

Both daybreak and nightfall come with a twilight: it doesn’t get light all at one time, nor does it get dark all at one time. That’s a merciful thing in the morning; how could we take it if the light blasted in on us with all its force as soon as our eyes were open?  Truth dawns on people like that; I’ve seen it come in waves as people continue to seek and hunger, and God gives them just what they’re ready to handle at the time.  Darkness can be deceptively slow in coming; people continue to think they’re just fine…

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Kristen Lamb

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