We underestimated our enemy

9/11 is our modern “day that will live in infamy”.  Like the first day to be so designated, it probably didn’t have to happen.  in-depth research by the 9/11 Commission revealed gaps in communication among agencies, lack of immigration enforcement, and failure to heed warnings that certain individuals posed a threat, among many other factors. In our wildest collective national dreams, no one could picture illegal immigrants, trained as pilots on our soil, wreaking total havoc on businessmen and women, simply “guilty” of going to work, and on grandparents travelling to see their grandkids. To a deadly degree, we underestimated our enemy.

And we haven’t stopped.

We expect of our government a level of excellence in detecting and immobilizing threats to both national and local security. If a Boston Marathon Bombing or a Shoe Bomber incident occurs, we demand answers as to why they couldn’t prevent such an attack or near-attack, and rightfully so. But I warrant there is an Enemy many are still underestimating, perhaps even some who read this.

A new way to die

I remember quite clearly on Tuesday evening, 9/11/2001, after our church’s specially called prayer meeting, turning to a fellow church member  and stating,”We learned a new way to die today…Go to work and sit at your desk until a plane-load of innocent people crash through your building.” Why did I say that? Because we had never thought of that being a way to die before that date, but we can never think the same about security at work, or anywhere else, again.

Notwithstanding the political implications of failing to learn from the past, I certify you that many people seem unsuspecting that the Enemy of our souls could still be using weapons of mass deception, which he introduced in ancient times, even on us. Consider this:

All the same

When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, and Aaron cast down his rod, as God had directed Moses in the wilderness as a sign that God was with him, the rod became a serpent. Pharaoh’s magicians  immediately threw down their rods, which also became serpents. How? By God’s power? Of course not. By Satan’s power?  Well, there are only two options, and we’ve ruled out the other one, don’t you agree?

So are God’s power and Hell’s power equal? Absolutely not! The rod of Aaron ate up the rods of the magicians — a demonstration of superiority that the pharaoh-worshipping, God-hating, heathen magicians could not mimic.  Would the demonstration of two powers have appeared to be equal, initially, to the untrained observer? Absolutely!   

Now, consider who we’re talking about here: The sworn Enemy of God Almighty, and the sworn Enemy of your soul. Yet so many live life as if this Enemy would never use such a trick again. He would never allow some doctrine or religious system that is not of God, but claims to believe in all the tenants of Christianity, to produce signs and wonders and good feelings and good works, again. If people are basically good and they do good works and they feel something they believe with all their heart is God, then to many, it becomes vicious, self-righteous, judgement to suggest that they are not truly following God according to His Word.

They underestimate our Enemy.

The origin of what appear to be options

The root theology of many religious groups today, including the Catholic Church and all mainline denominations that branched off during the Protestant Reformation (this includes Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, etc.), is to insist that the Godhead is best understood as a trinity, and that failing to stand on this idea is heresy. What is not taught is where and when the doctrine emerged.  

For the period of history covered by the Book of Acts,  through around 64 A.D.,  the primary teaching of the church was that the true implementation of Jesus’ charge to the disciples to go into all the world, making “disciples of all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”, was to baptize in the one name that encompasses all of these: Jesus (see Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:47-48, Acts 19:5). A wealth of scriptures explain how they knew the “name of Jesus” had to be what Jesus meant by what He said.

Yet, over time, the exact thing that Jesus and the Apostles warned believers  would happen after their time on earth not only began to happen, but multiplied:  “Beware of false prophets…” (Jesus – Matthew 7:15), “After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you…speaking perverse things…” (Paul – Acts 20:29-30), “…there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies…” (Peter – 2 Peter 2:1), “For there are certain men crept in unawares…denying…our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Jude – Jude 4), “For many deceivers are entered into the world…” (John – 2 John 7).   By the second century, the voices that clamored for a shift from baptism in Jesus’ name to a formula that incorporated the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost, no doubt insisted that nothing was to be lost, but rather gained, for the Early Church by making this change. (Note that the Book of Acts records no baptisms being performed where these titles were used in place of the name of Jesus for baptizing believers). By the third century, the new doctrine was becoming law, and the original doctrine was beginning to be excluded from the official debate.  Didn’t Jesus warn his disciples: “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake?” (Matthew 10:22, 24:9,Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17)

Though it is impossible for both ideas to be right (i.e., baptizing exclusively in the name of Jesus vs. baptizing in the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), they were put forth to believers, first perhaps as being equal, then as the trinitarian formula being superior, somehow, to the “only name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved”, Jesus (Acts 4:11-12).  Though there is much to be said on the formula for baptism and the understanding of God as One, notice what happened in history around the time the relatively new doctrine was adopted as the official one at the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D. The Great Persecution of the church, under the Roman Empire, ceased around that time. The Council had been convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine, with the stated intention of bringing “unity” to the church.  The doctrine of One God whose name is Jesus, (called “modalism” by theologians) was outlawed, and documents supporting it destroyed. It continued to be reported on from time to time by opponents continuing to work to stamp it out. 

Is it uncomfortable to think that banning baptism in the name of Jesus, in favor of one that leaves out the only saving Name, was the price paid by the powerful Early Church and its descendents, for being relieved of persecution?  Not all of them took this option, of course, but the records of their history is sparse, as noted above. Is it odd at all to you to believe that the actions of the Apostles as recorded in the Book of Acts were supposed to be overridden by later theologians? Does it seem most likely that what God really meant by the Great Commission was not truly discovered until 200-300 years after Calvary? Or does it seem possible that this is a duplicated “rod-serpent”, put forth to distract from the original?

Does the idea that the basic theology of your church, if it does not insist on baptism in Jesus’ name exclusively, and the teaching of God as One, and not a trinity, descended from this act (which essentially instituted the Catholic church as we know it)? It is incredible for you to believe that your Enemy could have pulled off an illusion of this proportion on modern society, to the point that good people fight against the original doctrine of the Apostles (or at least bristle at the suggestion that it should now be taught and followed exclusively)? If so, then you have seriously, and perhaps tragically, underestimated your Enemy.

So your basis for being sure you are right, and this is wrong, is the fact that you feel so strongly about what you’re doing, and are surrounded by others who are the same.  Is that a safe basis for being sure the doctrine of the Apostles is no longer the only doctrine safe to base your eternity on?  Can I share with you that I have friends and former co-workers who are just as adamant about their conversions to Mormon theology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses as I am to what I say and as you are to what you say?  They are faithful to what they believe and recount with excitement their conversions to what most readers of this blog — whether they share its theology or not — would consider false doctrine. I realize they teach a different view of Jesus and hell and other things than mainline denominations, but they are sincere and are good people, the same argument many use to justify their unwillingness to change or investigate the scriptures behind the One God theology.

An ever-evolving threat

Shortly after the birth of my daughter, the fear of potential harm caused me to pack a bag and leave the home I’d rented for a number years in the hands of the husband who had joined me there, just three years before.  Most of the possessions that meant anything to me were necessarily left behind.  As the separation became prolonged, and legal options for protection led to the unsavory process of divorce, several people questioned the safety of my things still quartered where an angry and unpredictable man was dwelling.  I confidently replied that what I knew of him was that he of all things was not a thief, and I truly believed with his other considerable deeds and potential ones that his pride would not lead him to taking what was not his.  You learn a lot about someone during a divorce.  Once a court decree finally restored those things to me, some of them that I treasured most were marred permanently from being hid in a location somewhere that exposed them to moisture. I had grievously underestimated one who should not have been, but had become, my enemy.

People often cling to a belief that is being challenged, because of their not being sure of the alternative.  They are somewhat comfortable with what they know, even when it does not fully fit the facts presented. Often, someone becomes interested in seeking a change, or more truth, for a time, but are unsure of where to safely inquire about it. That is a real concern.  Every flavor of “Pentecost” that Satan can dream up and is still dreaming up, has been evolving for nearly two thousand years: those who seem to worship as Pentecostals, but still teach a trinitarian form of baptism; those who teach Baptism in Jesus name, though not exclusively, and with no standard of separation from the world; and those who teach the doctrine and a standard of separation, but have no true balance, no joy, or have been affected by the tares Jesus spoke of, to the point that people are made merchandise of, and those who associate with their churches are left bitter toward even the real, true church, should they find one. But there are still those that have the power of the Holy Ghost flowing in them, with sincere and unpretentious worship, and  alignment with the commandments of the Apostles to baptize in the name of the One who bought our salvation with His blood.

Know the real

You know –if you’ve read the Book of Acts–that teachings of the Early Church are different from your own, if you’re part of a religious group that insists on the trinitarian formula for baptism.  Two thousand years’ worth of theologians’ reasons why this shouldn’t bother you have been thrown at you up to this point. But make no mistake: day after day, someone is being taught a Bible study about the foundations of the Apostles’ doctrine and why it applies today, and is seeing that they were misled by their denominational teaching up to that point. If you feel any curiosity at all about what you’ve read, and if you’ve never had someone who believes that baptism in Jesus’ Name is the only saving message, and who lives a life that you could point to as being separated from the world, and possessing the power that God intended for the church to have, to sit down with scriptures and show you what they base that belief on, you owe it to yourself to seek that out. 

You may contact me through the Comments section of this blog, the Contact tab of this website, email me at SusanJenkinsMS@gmail.com, or visit our church, First Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ in Bay Springs, (www.fpcbaysprings.com)  if you’re in this local area.  I challenge you to size up your Enemy, and make sure he hasn’t pulled you in with one of the oldest tricks in his book.

When did the Gospel change?

Is the church today supposed to be like the church in the Book of Acts?

If not, when did it change?

Some things very obviously changed from the Old Testament to the New:

1) sacrifice for sin was completed by Jesus’ work on Calvary (Hebrews 10:1-18)
2) eating foods prohibited under the Law of Moses was clearly done away with by the Lord (Acts 10:15; 1 Tim. 4:3-5).

Other examples may exist of changes for the New Testament believers, but the point is that we know of these because they were clearly outlined in scripture: by commandment, by teaching, and by recorded practice of the Apostles and their converts.

Was the change for good?

Few argue that we should still be sacrificing animals for sin or abstaining from eating certain meats. God, through His word, changed the way humanity was to serve Him before the Cross to the way we are to serve Him since the Cross. The Cross is the Great Divide of history. Nothing since has been, or ever will be, the same.

But to compare the practice of the general church world today with that of the New Testament church, whose founding and practices are recorded in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, one would think there had been a second Great Divide.

The early church believers were baptized in the name of Jesus when they believed, as recorded in Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10 and Acts 19. But millions base their salvation and that of their family on the idea that somehow, somewhere, the adamant insistence of the Apostles on the Name of Jesus for baptism (see Acts 19:1-8) became obsolete.1

Secondly, the salvation experience of the New Testament church was always accomplished by believers receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Acts 2, 10, 19 clearly specify this and no scripture indicates any converts were saved without it. But the general church world today fights the idea that tongues are the required evidence that the Holy Ghost has come in, and that salvation is incomplete without it2..

More changes?

My question is this: where and when did that Gospel message — first preached by Peter at the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost — change? Can you point to the second Great Divide that changed history forever–again? And where in scripture are we prepared for this new method of salvation? Where are we told that we were to scrap the Acts 2:38 message and go with something else?

The Cross was foretold in virtually every book of the Old Testament. The outpouring of the Holy Ghost was prophesied in Joel and Isaiah. With all this preparation for the first Great Divide, where is the preparation for the change many are living under today, with a doctrine that says that is no longer necessary?

And what about a new doctrine? Some people obviously are following a new one because they are unwilling to do the first works they Apostles did. Where are there references in the Bible to the doctrine changing in the future?

You will find the scriptures giving many, many warnings about false teachers, false Christs, and a perverted Gospel3. If you do your research on church history (which is where you have to go to find anything about people baptizing in the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, because it didn’t  ever occur in the Bible), you will find this change made by a council of men in Nicea, over 300 years after Jesus came.

How safe is your plan?

SO, you can believe that was the plan of God, without any reservation: that this gospel of the kingdom, which Jesus said was to be preached unto all nations and then the end would come, was only in effect for the first 300 years, and then was summarily changed by a council of men? Although no prophecy in Scripture prepares us that there would be a later version of the gospel that was equally valid and more effective than the first, you’re comfortable believing that somehow what happened for the early church was for them only and that this change was the will of God and in his original Divine plan? You’re perfectly OK with staking eternity on that?

Want to know more?

If you would like to delve deeper into the scriptures and see for yourself what they say, a personal Bible study is a great way to connect. Leave a comment below or use the comment section of the site to request more information.


Why do many fight against the notion that the Name which is above every name — the Name of Jesus — must be called over converts being baptized? They base an entire doctrine on the one scripture that is meant to explain why the Name of Jesus is the one needed for baptism: Matthew 28:19-20 tells us that by baptizing in the Name of Jesus (as the Apostles did exclusively), we are baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That’s exciting!

2 The scriptures in 1 Corinthians 14 — where Paul is explaining the role of speaking in tongues in a church service to Christians who obviously have spoken in tongues when they received the Holy Ghost – are mistaken by many to override his other statements saying: 1) Tongues are for a sign (14:22), 2) Forbid not to speak with tongues (14:39), and 3) I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all (14:18).  Jesus himself said tongues would be one of the signs which would follow them that believe (Mark 16:18) — he didn’t say, they would follow for a while or until a new doctrine came along.

Matthew 24:24, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Galatians 1:6-9 are only a few of the many references to false teachers, false apostles, false Christs, and a perverted Gospel.

Sunshine’s for everyone; fire’s for a few

In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, chapter 4, Moses recounts the acts of God in bringing the Jewish people forth out of the nation of Egypt, where they were in bondage, and creating them as a nation unto himself. In verse 19, in the context of warning them not to forget what he had done, and some day look at the sun, moon and stars and begin to worship them, he makes the statement about those heavenly orbs as being what God has “divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.”

In other words, everyone who is born gets to share equally in the benefits of the sun, moon and stars. In the next verse, though, he talks about the special nature of God’s people, saying, “But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.” He had brought them out of the fire to be his own. Not only did he bring them out of the fire, but he led them by day with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire. The sunshine was for all men, but the fire was for the relative few he chose from all nations of the earth to be his own (4:7). That way of relating to the people he chooses to be his own continues today.

Sunshine’s general – fire’s specific

In other words, God’s goodness appears to all, but all are not his people. Just because he has smiled on their world and given good things to them to enjoy, does not automatically qualify them as his special possession in the earth. He still calls a people out of the world unto himself, to be his particular inheritance. He loves mankind, and came in flesh to die for all mankind. But that is not enough for all men to be saved. It made a path for them to do so, but didn’t walk the path for them. The calling out doesn’t depend on physical inheritance (the first birth), as in being a direct descendant of Abraham, but on repentance and obedience to the word of God that brings salvation (being born again). Anyone, blood descendant of Abraham or not, can walk the path, but they have to do it the way that was laid out in scripture.


Why so exclusive?

Does God intend for only a few to be saved? His word says, “The Lord is… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. Again he said, “…I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” Ezekiel 33:11. In neither of these scriptures was there an indication that God, who wants all to be saved, was willing to lower his standards to allow anyone into his kingdom without obeying his word. He clearly stated that repentance and turning from wickedness were required.


Does he know that only a few will be saved? When the disciples asked him that direct question in Luke chapter 13, he advised them to “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (v. 24). Why not? Because they’re not willing to do what it takes to enter.


Ever heard this slogan: “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”? Doesn’t that sound exclusive? Couldn’t an argument be made that they’d be more effective if they had more people signing up? And wouldn’t they get more people if they cut back on some of their requirements? All that rugged training and discipline and being so selective of who they allow in? Of course they’d get more people, but they would cease to be The Marine Corps, because the exceptional nature of the Corps defines them as The Marines. If it was easy to do, it would cease to be worth doing in the minds of those who seek the challenge. I’ve observed men who have completed their commitment to the Corps and no longer wear the uniform. They continue to have the bearing of someone who was willing to pay the price to be one of the few.

Sunshine is part-time, fire is forever

Sunshine probably feels best on winter days (if you can call what we have in Mississippi “winter” – the daffodils start blooming here right after Christmas!). When it’s a little cool, I love to find a spot where the sun’s shining and the wind is blocked, and just soak up the sun’s warmth.


The same air temperature, as measured by the thermometer, feels a lot different on a cloudy day than on a sunny day. Sunshine makes the difference. But have you noticed what happens late in the evening? That wonderful sunshine, no matter how warm it’s been, cannot hold on against the advancing night. It has to fade, and the air grows cooler, and the pretty, but colder, moon and stars come out. This lasts for hours and hours until the sun begins to rise again. There’s no remedy for it.


But what about the fire? With the right fuel, it can be kindled any time. Since time immemorial, men have kindled fires for warmth, for cooking, for light and for protection. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “I baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire;” Matthew 3:11. The role of fire in the word of God is pervasive. It goes all the way back to Genesis, with sacrifices made to God by fire, and into Exodus, with the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, and on into the New Testament. God’s plan of salvation was designed to give us fire that did not have to leave: Fire we could experience when the sun was warming the other half of the world, when things in our lives were not all sunny and wonderful. This fire will burn in the darkest night and warm the coldest heart.

How can you tell?

Jesus said to Nicodemus when he came to him by night: “Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5. Something is required to obtain this fire that Jesus came to baptize with. But what does it mean to be born again of water and of the Spirit? The men who were convicted that they were hopeless sinners when the first message after Jesus ascended was being preached on the the Day of Pentecost by the Apostle Peter, the men asked Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter answered and said unto them, 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 2:37-38). They obeyed what was preached to them, and three thousand were baptized and added to the church that day. Repentance (turning from sins) is the first step in coming toward the light of God. Can you see how the other two elements of water baptism in Jesus’ name, and the in-filling (baptism) of the Holy Ghost fulfill the requirements for the birth of water and Spirit that Jesus himself said were essential for entering into the Kingdom of God?

That’s where the fire is: in the Holy Ghost,the fire Jesus came to baptize with.The fire that warms when the world is cold and getting colder.

Do you have it? It’s worth the price to step out of the norm and obey the original gospel to have it. In the Book of Acts, everyone who received the Holy Ghost had a sound that accompanied that experience (as Jesus had also told Nicodemus would happen in John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth): they spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance (Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6). This included the original Jewish disciples, along with Mary the mother of Jesus and 107 other people (120 altogether in the Upper Room), Gentiles in Acts 10, and disciples of John the Baptist in Acts 19. It still comes that way today.

What do you think? Have you received the Holy Ghost and fire since you believed? Do you carry that fire burning day and night? Or are you content to just enjoy the sunshine…? I’d love to hear what you think…



Why haven’t I seen that before now?

Now you see it…

Have you ever been driving in a familiar area, and noticed something you’d never seen before, though it obviously was there all along?  I recall this happening once as I drove my daughter and a friend through very familiar territory near the friend’s home.  As we turned onto the oft-traveled country road, all at once, as if scripted, we all three looked to the right and noticed a horse grazing in a beautiful rolling pasture of green.  There was a brook at the bottom of the hill, and another hill rising up behind that one.  I’ve seen framed art that wasn’t as captivating as that scene was.  We all commented on the fact that we’d been by that spot many, many times, and never really noticed the beauty that was waiting there that day.

How could that happen?  Why didn’t we see it before?  There was no problem with our vision that suddenly had been corrected. Did the scene itself change from unremarkable to remarkable?  There could have been some changes, of course, in the hues and obviously the location of the horse, but the landscape itself had been there in some form since the dawn of time.  What changed?  I submit that a moment occurred wherein all the necessary conditions were met that allowed three people to simultaneously be struck by the same beauty.  Not being a believer in randomness at all, I am sure God had a purpose in crafting that experience ahead of time.

Not the first time

I had a parallel experience almost twenty-seven years ago.  Having possessed a Bible that I had read with some regularity, I had passed by the experience of the early Church numerous times, but never noticed some aspects of what happened to them, and what they said about its relevance to future generations.  I was unaffected by that portion of the Word of God, until about this time of year all those years ago, when I met someone who had been affected by it — someone who had experienced what I had assumed along with many, many others to have phased out after the era of the original apostles, years down the line.

Brought to a point of seeing something in the Word of God I’d never seen before, I had to make a choice as to what response I would give:  continuing to drive by and acting as though I’d not seen it, or incorporating the new knowledge into my overall response to God himself.  Thankfully, I chose the latter, and can say along with Robert Frost of “the road less traveled by”, that has made all the difference.

More eyes than mine

I have recently had the joyous opportunity of seeing other people experience this same phenomenon, to discover that what they assumed wouldn’t be relevant for them was in fact the very thing they’d searched for all their lives.

Often people overlook an answer because of the place where it’s waiting, that appears to them as though it simply couldn’t be anywhere they could find what they needed. This tendency reminds me of myself looking for my car keys and going over and over the only places I was sure I had been with them.  It’s embarrassing to think  how many repetitions of such a totally unproductive “solution” to my problem I’ve gone through, then to finally give up and start looking everywhere. Only then could I discover the keys in an unlikely place, and remember how something had happened to derail me from putting them where I usually do (OK,  so I admit I’m just getting really absent-minded!).

There…? Really?

A church that teaches holiness, righteous living, and separation from the world is often the very last place some would look for their answers. Once all other options are exhausted, however, and desperate to have more of what God wants for them – his answer to their life’s problem, whatever it looks or sounds like or wherever it is – they finally begin to see what he was preparing for them all the time: joy, love and power to live righteously and godly in this present world, and how to have that.

It’s at the church that is doing what the very first church did – teaching repentance (turning from our sins), water baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission (forgiveness and cleansing) of sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, as actually happened to people in Acts chapter 2, chapter 10 and chapter 19, among other places.  This fulfills the birth of water and Spirit Jesus talked about in John chapter 3 (3:5), as being necessary for seeing or entering into the Kingdom of God, and was preached as being a promise “unto you, and to your children and all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Sounds like all of us forever, to me.

What do you see?

Does this just sound like so much “partisanship”  (if that term can be applied to ideas related to Christianity)? Splitting hairs?  I submit to you that I have seen with my own eyes that there is a reality in obeying this original doctrine, that it really matters what you believe, and how you practice it, though many would say otherwise.

Let me know what you think.  What have you seen that was really “there all the time”?

I’ll try to reply to each comment, or answer any questions you may have.  Thanks for reading!

Check it out!

Don’t assume anything.

Journalists preparing news for publication are given the warning to verify their sources: “Check it out! If your mother says she loves you, check it out!”. While hopefully “mother’s story” checks out, the adage has its merits.

The Society for Professional Journalists espouses a Code of Ethics including the requirement that journalists: “Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.”  They’re warned to double-check sources, use more than one for the same article, and verify facts, all in order to make a strong case on evidence for what they’re about to publish. Readers rely on publications that insist on this level of accuracy, and lose faith quickly in those that don’t, and rightly so.

How important is that?

Should I apply those standards to important decisions I make?  How common is that?  The steady increase in the dissolution of marriages makes it questionable as to how much preparation is put into that decision, though the presence of many strong, godly marriages based on biblical principles stand out as being among those who do the appropriate work before making a life-changing “forever” decisions.

What about our priorities with regard to our walk with God, our connection to the eternal?  Most people have a concept that we’re not on earth for ever, that something happens after we die, and that we have options now as to how we can affect that.  How much planning is it worth?

What’s the risk?

In recent memory, a major news organization ran a story claiming documentation that proved the president in office at that time had falsely reported his military service. The “proof” was challenged and found to have been less than verifiable, at least in part because the written type more closely matched computer-based word processing (not available until many years after the document’s date) than the typewriters that were available at the time it would have been composed. The responsible staff resigned over the controversy, not because they were thought to have created a false report, but because of having failed to verify their sources for what they chose to report, and its resulting embarrassment and loss of credibility for the news organization.

The risk of failing to fully check out claims of Biblical doctrine in which one places their hopes of eternity with God are much greater than those of failing to check out an article before printing or broadcasting, don’t you agree? Yet, the prevailing wisdom on that matter often seems only as deep as looking around to see how many people are on the same doctrinal “boat” one is on, and feeling secure if there’s a crowd. “There must be safety in numbers” is the profoundly popular approach, even in the face of questions about the facts supporting one’s belief or for rejecting another belief system.

Many teachings of various churches today are based on assumptions that the experience and teachings of the early church were intended by God to only be valid through the writing of the New Testament, and were then to be replaced by other teachings.  That’s an enormous assumption to make. Is it valid?  Is it sufficient to disregard the fact that the early church experience, when people came to God, these believers received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, which occurred repeatedly in the Book of Acts?  Is it not significant that this is still alive and well among believers today who obey the original gospel message, and therefore it has not been  “replaced” at all?

How good are you?

When I finished John Grisham’s novel, The Confession, I noticed after the close of the book a note from Mr. Grisham, acknowledging that there could be technical errors,  but advising there was no need to write him and point them out.  The reason for the potential errors, Mr. Grisham stated was that he simply dislikes doing research to verify certain technical information relevant to the book he’s writing. With this approach, he will from time to time be able to expect an error or two. With his readership and quality in other aspects of his writing, he doesn’t have much to worry about — fans are going to read him anyway, because he’s that good.  The rest of us, better do our homework. 

The Word of God is our source for research when it comes to spiritual things. Is there just one source in the Bible to consider when talking about biblical salvation including speaking in tongues? Consider these references: 1) Isaiah 28:11, 2) Mark 16:17, 3) Acts 2: 4, Acts 10:44-46, 4) 1 Corinthians 14:18, 14:39.  Though there are others, these fall into four categories:  Old Testament (Isaiah) , Life and works of Jesus (Mark), Acts of the apostles (Acts), and writings of one of the founders of church, Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians).  That’s a good source of references to confirm the reality of this part of salvation.

I’ve found the simplest approach of doing due diligence in research is to focus on what the apostles said to do, and what they were recorded as actually doing, in the Bible in the Book of Acts. This is the most straightforward method of checking my sources to be sure I’m living, speaking and writing what is trustworthy.

The apostle Paul told a young man he trained for the ministry in his letter to him, “Take heed to thyself, and to thy doctrine…” 1 Timothy 4:15 (KJV).  It matters what we believe.

What do you think?  Have you had an experience with untrustworthy claims of  truth? Are you wary of claims of religious doctrine being verifiable vs. all-inclusive (“it’s all the same so why dig too deeply”)? Are you wondering how anyone can “know the truth”, as Jesus said we would do?  Feel free to share your comments.

Catch your drift

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.


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!

The show-me state…of mind

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, 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.