Salvation and Location

The phrase “Location is everything” is valid, especially in business.  Yes, there are places where the food, merchandise, atmosphere, etc. is so wonderful and spectacular that people will travel many miles out of the way to partake.  Barring that, however, if you put a restaurant or other facility in an out of the way place, unlikely or remote location, too far from the beaten track, overly difficult to find egress, it often goes under.  Placement in a suitably easily accessible, parking friendly, relatively safe, highly visible and prominent spot is essential to a service establishment’s success or maintenance of it.

The same is true of the religion of Jesus Christ.  Salvation is a matter of location.

The phrases “in Christ,” “in Christ Jesus,” “into Christ” occur a total of 384 times in the New Testament of the New King James version.  Clearly it is an important matter to the inspired writers but why have many scholars given it so little regard?

Most likely it is because they do not grasp its significance.  Salvation to them is a matter of “accepting Jesus” in some manner, usually via prayer, into the heart.  They move Jesus from where He is into themselves instead of moving themselves into Him as Scripture teaches.  Oh yes, they will cite Jesus knocking on the door asking admittance into the alien sinner’s heart, but in so doing they miss the entire context of it.  Jesus, in Revelation, was requesting readmission into the hearts of those saints in dead or dying churches in Asia Minor (Rev. 3:14-21).  He was not asking admission into the hearts of alien sinners.  That makes a vast difference in understanding the verse and accurately defining its usage.  Furthermore, Jesus as the “door” in the parable of the shepherd indicates the sheep enter the fold of safety through Him and into Him (John 10:7-9).  Thus they have the thing backwards for alien sinners; they must to get “into Christ” before He can get into them.

Never in Scripture is it stated or intimated that one is to “believe into Christ” but that is what many teach.  So to them there is no sense of urgency or need to seek an understanding of what it really means to be “in Christ.”  They had rather pose the question, “Are you saved” than ask “Are you in Christ Jesus?”  The entire phrase and its meaning are quite foreign; they would never be found asking it.

To be “in Christ Jesus” is to be saved, plain and simple.  One cannot be saved and not be “in Christ.”  Yet to be “in Christ” is to be a baptized (immersed in water) penitent (Acts 2:38), confessing (Acts 8:36-37), believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24).

“But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized INTO CHRIST have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:25-26).

According to the testimony of the Holy Spirit of God to get “in Christ” or “into Christ” is to have been baptized (immersed in water) having fulfilled the aforementioned commandments of Christ or His Apostles.  Someone quite confidently told me something to the effect that:  “There is nothing physical you do to be saved.”  I wish I had replied, “Who says so?  Not Jesus, His Apostles, nor the Holy Spirit for certain!”  If a physical act be mistaken for something other than faith, it is not my fault.  Rather, it is a faulty understanding of what faith itself is – trusting obedience to the will of God – whatever that involves and entails.

Now that you know what is meant by the expression, I end this article by asking you, “Are you in Christ Jesus?”  Unless you have been baptized into Christ, you cannot be.

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Because I Can

I have wondered why Satan decided to be so hostile, so relentlessly anti-God.  It does not make sense for any rational being to look Almighty God in the face and decide to shake a fist at it.  In fact, it is just plain stupid.  There will be no parties in Hell, only “weeping and gnashing of teeth”[1] for all eternity.  Why subject oneself to that?  After all, our destiny is our own choosing.[2]

Some time back, a very dear friend of mine told me about a horrific incident that happened to him.  I do not remember all the details; it was a long story, but the gist of it was that he had a friend who partnered with him in a business enterprise.  One day he got a report that the store he co-owned had been ransacked, looted, but not entirely.  He figured they would be back to finish the job, and they did come back, but he was waiting.  He confronted them and called the police.  The police came but mistook him for the perpetrator – as they had authorization to collect the items they claimed.  He finally found who had put them up to it and learned it was his partner, a long time friend.  When he asked him why he did it, he simply replied:  “Because I can.”

There are some beings who are purely evil.  They love to hurt people, to inflict pain and torment.  Oh, when it comes their turn, they cry “foul” and fall apart like the cowards they are, but, till then, it is all just fun and games.  They have been given power to do what they like and they like hurting people.  They don’t worry about threats or consequences, they live for the thrill of the moment.  They reject God and His Word because they can.  They hate others and inflict pain upon them because they can.  They despise Jesus and His sacrifice of love because they can.  They refuse Heaven and honor and choose Hell and shame because they can.  God has given them the power of a god and the god they choose to be is Satanic.

God has given us a marvelous gift – the gift of choice on how to use the incredible functions of our human bodies and minds in whatever way we will.  He has asked us to use restraint, to use them for what He has fashioned them – as instruments for His use and glorification, to be useful servants while we inhabit His world.[3]  Yet in the end He lets us choose.  Only a few, relatively speaking, will choose wisely, to heed and obey His voice.  Most will choose foolishly, selfishly doing whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, to whomever they want.  Like their mentor, Satan, they will do so because they can…at least while they can.

Just because we can do a thing does not mean we should.  God has given us great power and freedom to make decisions and choices on how to order our lives.  With His guidance, we must learn to make the right ones, not just the ones we can.

[1]  Matthew 8:12; 24:51

[2] John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9

[3] Micah 6:8; John 8:29

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Honor the King

For eight long, tedious, tiresome years many of us who profess Christ as Lord languished under the supervision of a president, his cabinet, and administration who, in several vital topics dear to us, made decisions and imposed laws contrary to Holy Writ.[1]  While these years crawled by none of us rioted, set fire to his effigies, disrupted Town Hall meetings, engaged in treasonous murder threats via social media, paraded ourselves like tantrum throwing infants, nor cast spells against him even though any sort of criticism we leveled against his immoral, ungodly, policies was met with cries of racism.  Most of us, besides being decent, law-abiding, order-loving, people by nature, contained ourselves because Christ commanded we “render to Caesar”[2] what is his, and because it is a plain violation of the Holy Spirit’s will revealed to the Apostle Paul in Romans 13:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

This is a text that is all the more relevant due to the fact that the ruling authority in the Roman world at that time was Nero.  No man or woman was a more vile, cruel, brutal, murdering despot than he.  Certainly none of our presidents can remotely compare.  Hence if Nero’s reign was God authorized, being what he was, and God through Paul commanded we give honor to rulers, then it is is all the more potent in view of who is now serving as our president considering the vehemence of the attacks leveled against him.

What we are daily witnessing and enduring as news from many politicians and media outlets is the most malicious, vicious and concerted effort I have ever seen in my life to delegitimize, denigrate, and destroy the highest public official in our land.  It is  no doubt due to the vengeful, spiteful, nature of people who lost a sure-fire election win which God did not permit to happen.

No one should not be surprised since many of the worst offenders have no respect for God, His authority or His laws whatsoever.   Many of them do not believe in Him anyway.   So they characteristically lie, cheat, steal, slander, gossip, character assassinate, foment strife and stoke the fires of hate all under the guise of “peaceful protesting,” “news,” “standing up for their constituents,” “community organizing” and the like.  Backed and funded by rich, powerful, men, often foreign yet equally godless, they relentlessly continue in their “perpetual hatred”[3] while hypocritically accusing him and those who support him of it.

God’s attitude against this nonsense is clear – if one rebels against government they rebel against the Ordaining Power and Supreme Authority – God (Yahweh) who placed him in power.  Mark it down, judgment, both temporal and eternal, will fall upon them, sooner or later.

While I am confident nothing will remotely deter most of these “sons of perdition” from their willing rendezvous with Gehenna’s flames, I am nevertheless compelled to try and warn them of the consequences if they persist.  It may be that some will wake up, repent, before their time runs out.  Christian, if you are on board with this kind of misbehavior, this goes double for you.

No public official is without flaws and sinless, but none should have to experience what he has at their hands.  Therefore, I am praying for this president, his family and staff that God will guide and protect them; that the evil directed against them will rebound upon the heads of the perpetrators if they will not repent.  I am praying that through him, this administration, and the cooperation of most of our citizens, we will help God will restore this nation to some semblance of lawfulness, decency, and righteousness.  This may be our one, final, hope.

[1] http://2012.presidential-candidates.org/Obama/Abortion.php

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2012/05/10/obama-supports-same-sex-marriage

[2]  Matthew 22:21

[3] Ezekiel 35:1-15

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Loving Those Who Hate God (Redoux)

I stopped watching any portion of the Academy Awards many years ago.  The idea of spending any time observing self-absorbed “entertainers” congratulating themselves for pretending to be other people, wearing clothes that may only be worn once, the price of which could be more than a years’ salary in some countries, only serves to revolt me.

I find it hard to imagine how anyone could be so blind as to think that what they do, acting, should automatically confer upon them an on-high privilege to tell anyone else how they should live, while, in their view, the Word of God and Christians like me, do not.  If that’s the case, then their moral “high ground” must be as high as a pothole.

When are Christians going to learn that most of these glittering, flesh-worshipping, plastic icons loathe us and all we stand for?  Despite their wealth, gold and silver, their radiating pride from every pore (most of which they deliberately leave far too visible), we continue to provide them the means (dollars and attention) that enables them to keep pursuing their godless lives, humanist ideological propaganda and demon-inspired agendas?

They are gladly, happily, blisteringly beaming to be anti-Christ, disavowing His reign and principles while advocating the total opposite, if not in word then by calculating action.

A few books of the New Testament:  2 Peter, Jude, 1 John, deal directly with such people and label them all reprobates.  Why then give them any attention and funding?  Are we that starved, that desperate, for entertainment?

Brethren, it is way past time we cut loose these abject moral vagabonds and let them go their own way.  Praying for them is fine, but do not continue to support their evil works.  For they do not at all regard nor esteem either our Lord Jesus Christ or His way, not to mention the likes of us.

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Popularity

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26)

“For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10)

Considering the Scriptures listed above, anyone wanting to pander to the crowd, seeking public (and private) acclaim and accolade, avoid criticism and hate, “get along” with everyone, etc., need not concern themselves with being or becoming a Christian.

Christians are supposed to suffer (Romans 8:16, 17; 1 Peter 2:21).  We are the Body of Christ which remains, for the time being, here on earth.  As His physical body was abused, scorned, despised, hated and ultimately killed, so we must “follow His steps” and carry our “cross.”  Striving to be popular with people might evade some of it, but it comes with a price.

Popularity is transient; it never lasts long.  Jesus entered Jerusalem having crowds shouting praises to God.  He exited the world a week later, bleeding to death slowly on a cross after they had clamored for Him to be pinned on it.  In fact, they demanded it.

People are fickle.  I heard an old preacher say, “Those who ask you out to dinner when you get there (at a new work or ministry), will have you for dinner before you leave.”  Experience has often proved that the case if you are true to the Word of God and will not compromise truth for anyone.

Labeling sin is not hate.  Calling out misdeeds, injustices, wrongdoing, evil, false doctrine and the like is part of our job as it was His job.  So while we must and should loudly proclaim the Good News of God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness, we must also echo Christ’s warnings against sin and its deadly effects on us all.  If we become unpopular because we do, and it is not because we relish it, then so be it.

The only accolades we should ever seek are those which God might grant us.  “Have you considered my servant Job?” God asked Satan.  What an astounding compliment!  What a lovely tribute from the Almighty to His lowly, humble, soon to be pain-stricken, suffering servant who proclaimed himself nothing more than “dust and ashes.”  What greater popularity could there be for anyone?  What price would you or I pay to hear God say such a thing of us?  More importantly, could He actually say it of us in the face of the devil?

We have two choices.  We can forego the popularity of our friends, loved ones, humanity in general, to pursue a life being popular with God and the eternal reward it brings, or we can sacrifice that for being popular with people.  The former will bring us God’s praise and glory; the latter, an ephemeral, vapid, temporary boost to our ego that will find a fitting, final, repose in the grave.

One thing is certain:  we must choose one or the other; we cannot do both at the same time.

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I believe in Global Warming

I know it exists but it is far more than an environmental time bomb.

Someday there will be one like no other, when “the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat.”  From pole to pole, east to west, there will be a conflagration that the world has never before seen.  It will not be human precipitated or caused.

It is a promise and a threat from the Almighty.

On that Day there will be two kinds of people living in the world.  On the one hand, there will be the majority among the “tribes of the earth” and they shall all collectively and universally “mourn.”  On the other will be the elect, the vast minority, the sanctified, those who will “lift up (their) heads” for their “redemption draws near.”

Those who desperately weep and cry out will be they who will see all they presently cling to; all that for which they have myopically spent their entire lives accumulating, go up literally in smoke:  their houses, their wealth: stocks, bonds, savings; their fabulous good looks, hairstyles, tattoos, gender choices, political aspirations and partisanship, perverted and sinful lifestyles and choices, their boozing and drug use, profane trash-talking, sports-worship, their pursuit of all things “flesh,” chiseled and sculpted bodies included.  They will have reason to cry, for when this warming happens all of that will disappear in a massive, one-of-a-kind, one-time-only, fiery, global, meltdown.  They will flee from the One from whose face “heaven and earth fled away” but there will be nowhere to hide, no place to go.

Those whose hands and arms go up, who “lift up (their) heads” and whose faces smile, tears of joy streaming down their cheeks (if only for a few moments), who have said, by life and word, “Come, Lord Jesus!” will not fear and will not mind, because they have lived lives declaring their allegiance to Him and not to the world.  They will do so because they have been treated as “strangers and pilgrims” in a world who did not know them because it did “not know Him who sent” Jesus.  They will embrace the coming conflagration because it means an exit to a world where they knew they did not belong, or hold citizenship in; where they felt like aliens because the rest of the world could not, or would not, see the beauty and sweet reasonableness in a suffering Savior who lovingly implored all of us to “Follow (Him)” as He led us back to the “Father of Spirits” that we might truly “live.”

If that day were today or tomorrow, in which group would you and I be among?  Have we “built our house on the Rock” or have we built on shifting sand?  Are we pouring our time, energy, resources, and affections into that which will be utterly destroyed or are we spending and using them wisely, preparing for the inevitable, when all that matters, all that is left to us, is a godly, holy, imperishable, life, one which we have enjoyed and led in the service of the King of Kings?

Global warming is real.  Believe it.  Are you and I ready for it?  More importantly, are we looking forward to it?  That, more than anything, will give us the answer to the question.

(Texts cited:  2 Peter 2:12; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7; Luke 21:28; Revelation 20:11; 23:20; Hebrews 11:13; John 1:10; Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Hebrews 12:9; Matthew 7:24)

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Put to Use

My father was a mechanic so he had lots of tools.  I remember seeing many of them; they were dirty, grimy, well-worn.  Very few of them went unused.  Mine, on the other hand, if they are not hand-me-downs (which most are), look much newer, much nicer, almost clean and grime-free.  A real mechanic could easily tell that I am no mechanic even if I am the son of one.  The tools, if not the lack of knowledge in a conversation about car repair or the like, would be a dead giveaway.

Put to use over time, anything or anyone will show signs of wear and tear.  Our bodies will and do, eventually, and maybe even our minds.  When we are in the Lord’s service we will show signs of wear also.  We  will be under near constant assault by Satan.  He will do everything in his considerable power to render us ineffective, seeking to neutralize us as a force against him.  He may attack in various ways:  health issues, hurting our loved ones, damaging our financial security and resources, loss of possessions, tempting our lusts and so on.   It may show on our faces, in our temperament, our demeanor, our speech and the kinds of daily decisions we make.  We have to be ready for it, accept it for what it is, but realize he makes us do nothing we do not choose to do and the Lord won’t allow him to go beyond a point without providing an escape hatch for us (1 Corinthians 10:13).

If you are feeling hurried, harassed, hampered, hamstrung, hated, homesick or horrible, then that may be because you are a tool in the Lord’s kingdom, making a difference, and Satan is doing his dead-level best to neutralize your effectiveness.  Pray for strength from on High, for the power of our Spirit-Comforter and the encouragement of the Word of God and fellow believers to rise above the noise and ugliness of the moment to fulfill your assignments in the Lord’s kingdom.  Cast aside the emotions that are holding you down or keeping you “navel-gazing.”  Revel in the onward and upward march, as a soldier of Christ, a tool in His service being put to use by the Master Craftsman and Builder.

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