Highway to Heaven

It is clear from Scripture that getting to heaven is a process that involves two essential elements: God’s part and our response to it. God has provided the means of salvation from sin, its guilt, consequences, and domination, through Jesus Christ’s vicarious sacrifice on Calvary (Matthew 26:26-28). The motivating factor for that involves 1) His tireless, unfading, goodwill toward His creation (love, John 3:16) and 2) His mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5). His holiness demanded justice for wrongdoing; He has to be Just to justify the guilty (Romans 3:25-26).  Because He loves us, when we could not provide it ourselves, He did by sending His Firstborn into the world to do what we, or any law/code/legalistic religion could not – pay for the crimes Himself.  He did it in totality, once, and for all time (Hebrews 1:2-3).  We cannot, by any means, save ourselves by our “good works.”

Therefore, the highway to heaven is the highway of His grace. Picture an easily accessible, inviting, smooth roadway, free of potholes, damaging interference, other motorists, anything that would impede progress – for His grace is all sufficient (1 Cor. 12:9). If we remain on that highway it will invariably lead us to where He is, waiting for us to arrive. God’s grace is His favor given to us when we did not deserve it. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Yet grace stepped in to pave the way for us to get home. You and I are on one of two highways: the highway to heaven as a Christian, or the highway to hell as an unbeliever. Please consider which one you now travel.

The vehicle in which we must travel is faith. It can accommodate any passenger. It does not matter what a person looks like, where they are from, what they have done. If they hear and believe the gospel (Romans 10:17; Mark 1:15), trusting Jesus to save them (John 8:24; Acts 4:12), and do as Christ commands (John 14:15): confess His name as divine (Matthew 10:32), repent of sins (change the mind/heart about sinful behavior) (Luke 13:3, 5) and submit to water baptism (Mark 16:16), Jesus promises salvation, eternal life, and heaven as rewards. Jesus’ blood, not water, through their obedience of faith to the gospel (Romans 16:26), cleanses them from all their past sins. As they continue to live by faith, remaining inside the vehicle of faith, and repent of sins, fulfilling the will of Christ as best they can, sins will continue to be forgiven (1 John 1:7) and faith will get them home intact, safe and sound.

Faith alone is not enough. It may surprise you but the only text in all of Scripture that combines the words “faith” and “only” in a passage were recorded by James, the inspired writer, who stated we are NOT saved by faith only (James 2:24). Though the kind of faith he speaks of is the kind which thinks one thing but fails to act, any disobedient, rebellious, faith is insufficient to save. The devils believe, but they refuse to honor God’s will. Furthermore, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “…though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” He said the only thing that matters is “faith working (there’s the obedience part!) through love” (Galatians 5:6). Therefore, love must be the fuel which propels the vehicle of faith. Just like an empty gas tank on an automobile will leave it immobilized, faith which has no love channeling through it will fail one way or another. If we stop loving God and those He loves (everyone), then no matter how much we believe Him to be God and accept His word as truth, we will not be treating Him with the respect that love demands, nor anybody else for that matter. Our vehicle of faith will sit on the roadside, useless, unable to move, unable to get us where we want to be and where we need to be. Love is absolutely necessary to get us to heaven!

These three things are essentials: grace, faith, and love. Grace is the highway, faith is the vehicle, love is the fuel. Each is critically important to get us to heaven. God has paved the way home by His grace with the precious blood of  His Son, Jesus Christ. Let the vehicle of faith, fueled by love, get us there.

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You May Have…

Obedience without saving faith, but you cannot have saving faith without obedience.

 “Old Time Religion” to be seen by men, but you cannot have true religion without having love to be seen by God.

 Glory and blessings on earth, but you cannot have glory and blessings in heaven without Christ.

 A good name in life on earth, but you cannot have a new name in heaven without life in God.

 Wit, skill, and intelligence to help you escape the judgment of law on earth, but you cannot have them to help you escape the laws of God at the Judgment.

 The time to do what you want to do while alive, but you cannot have the time to do what you need to do after you die.

 A  comfortable life without God in your life on earth, but you cannot have an eternal life in heaven without God in your life on earth.

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Culture War

When I was in school back in the sixties, no one would have dreamed of shooting up a high school.  It never entered anyone’s mind to do so.  Did we have bullies?  Of course.  I lived a full year of torment from bullies.  It was so bad that I prayed to wake up sick on certain days of the week when we had P. E.

Did we have guns?  You bet.  Where I lived every family had them.  Most adult males were hunters and kept lots of them, ammunition, knives – you name it.  My dad had about six to ten that I can remember, including semi-automatic rifles.  Nearly every male old enough to fire a rifle was trained to do it well.  I was.

Did we have hate?  Oh yes.  I hated going to school to be hounded and bullied and I was white.  Blacks were treated much worse.  Segregation was still in effect in some places but white-on-white bullying was plentiful and the norm.  Black on black crime was high too where I lived.  Hate persists.

What then kept me, and others, from grabbing a rifle or shotgun and attacking a school or someone therein?

Religion.  Specifically, Christianity.

I lived during a time when, despite the bullying and general meanness of people, there were limits, limits imposed by the general belief that 1) the God of the Bible does exist; 2) that we were all made in His image; 3) that He will hold us accountable for our actions, and 4) He will give you what you deserve one day.  We said the pledge of allegiance and the Lord’s prayer every day.  It was normal to hear God’s name and people spoken well of.  It was not normal nor acceptable for anyone to blaspheme in a public forum.  Corporal punishment was meted out for insubordinate, unruly, rebellious, ill-tempered miscreants.  Those things kept most of us in check – our evil-side, bestial nature subdued and sometimes entirely tamed.

However, when the atheistic, pseudo-intellectual, pompous, hedonistic lot took over schools and universities shortly after those years, they systematically sought to boot the God of the Bible, and His Word, out of everything.  They heartily promoted their unprovable theory of evolution, making absolutely sure that everyone understood quite clearly that we are nothing more than bags-of-water living a rat-race and anything but God’s children.

In their successful run at filling the minds of young people for the past fifty-plus years that humans are just glorified apes, they have led us to a point in time where babies in the womb can be murdered at five months without any remorse on the part of anyone (in fact it is bragged about) and that guns, the NRA, Republicans, and lack of gun control are to blame for the massacre of innocents at schools.  It should come as no surprise that those who brought us to this point in time are the very ones who angrily posit the blame they generated, at others… and inanimate objects.

The real issue with our, or any, society is not guns, bombs, and knives and who has them.  It is not the NRA.  It is not Republicans.  It is not having access to firearms.  We had all of that in abundance in the fifties and sixties.  The difference is what the atheistic, God-hating, progressives have infused into the minds of people since then – the belief that we are alone in the universe, God is not real, there are no moral absolutes of right and wrong set by God, and that human life is therefore cheap – at least in the womb.

When any person or nation removes God and the belief that we are made in His image – those who must be respected and loved, each and every one of us – from their hearts, consciences, and lives, then what follows is a descent into the maelstrom of spiritual chaos, injustice, evil, and madness.

This is what we are seeing and experiencing.  Things will not improve until people are taught and believe in general as they once did (see paragraph six) if that is even possible now in any real sense.

Guns, bombs, and knives do not get up and kill people on their own.  The power of life or death is in the hand and heart of the person of flesh and blood who wields them and it has been on the side of death for far too long.

And the ungodly and godless have put it there.

Physicians! Heal yourselves.

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Same Now as Then

They were viewed as “non-persons,” property, more or less.  They “belonged” to someone.  They had no voice, no vote, no rights, no way to escape.  Freedoms came only as their masters permitted.  Dehumanized, despised, and viewed as subhuman they merely existed.  This was a prevalent view of black slaves and blacks in general before and even long after the Civil War.

In 1857 Dred Scott, a black slave, filed a lawsuit challenging his, and his family’s, slave-hood because he had lived in two “free states” for several years.  The United States Supreme Court decided 7–2 against Scott, finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott’s temporary residence outside Missouri did not bring about his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, which the court ruled unconstitutional as it would “improperly deprive Scott’s owner of his legal property”.[1]

It was the law of the land.  Dred Scott was a non-citizen.  He had no rights.  He and his family remained slaves and he died one year later as one.

Any person possessing the tiniest sliver of human decency, humanity, compassion and Christian morality, will view all of that in abject horror.  How anyone would consciously treat another human being in such a vile, cruel, cold and ruthless way is truly astounding.  How people could be so blind, so unyielding, so subjective and committed to inhumanity and brutality is mind-boggling.  Yet that was how it was… and that is just how it is today in another vein.

Every minute at least two unborn children die by abortion.  According to the Right to Life of Holland Area, there are 2,900 abortions in the U. S. A. every day; 137 per hour; 2.3 per minute.  There have been nearly 57 million abortions since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in America in 1973.[2]  So even as I write this, and as you read it, babies are being murdered in the womb somewhere in this nation.

It is considered lawful for the very same reason Dred Scott was forced to remain a slave – the Supreme Court says so.  As he was, so are they portrayed:  dehumanized and subhuman (“fetus” “blob of tissue” et al), property (“It’s MY body!”), without voice nor vote and no way to escape their fate.  I submit again that abortion is the slavery issue of our day for anyone who can see past their prejudices to the comparative truth in it.

And its supporters are defending it in the same way the defenders of slavery did and for the very same reasons.  There is a video showing someone punching a Pro-Life fifteen-year-old in the face standing outside a Planned Parenthood.[3]  The way of violence has always been the resort of the righteously anemic whose motto is “Might makes right.”  The South went to war not merely for States’ Rights, but to ensure that it might continue treating blacks as slaves so their economy might continue to prosper.  Those who abort babies or support it will fight to the bitter end and with all the tactics their misguided and evil hearts can devise, to protect their “economies” as well.  Whether it be to enhance individuals’ creature comforts, or the profit derived from selling fetal tissue as ingredients in skin conditioners[4] , body parts, and stem cell research by companies, there is personal aggrandizement to be gained from it – the utter vileness of it notwithstanding.

We can be thankful the Supreme Court reversed itself, finally.  Although in the minds of many (and most wrongfully so) blacks remained second class citizens for many long decades, the law finally declared their full citizenship and, more importantly, personhood.

Will it ever be so with abortion?

If the earth protested Cain’s spilling of his brother’s innocent blood, then its cry must now thunder in God’s ears at the wholesale slaughter we are seeing today.

I am no prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I do have Scripture.  It tells me if this does not stop, there will be a reckoning:

 “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him:  a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart the devises wickedness, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:17).

“Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom a desolate wilderness, because of violence against the people of Judah, for they have shed innocent blood in their land” (Joel 3:19).

If you view this new version of slavery as abhorrent and you wish to try to forestall disaster, get involvedStop voting for politicians who support Planned Parenthood’s abortionist policies and repent if you have.  It is likely we may never be able to go back to pre-1973 days but we should not be funding abortion mills and consorting with politicians who promote this despicable evil.  Speak out and do not be silenced.  If you are currently pro-abortion and irreligious, I suggest you hear what Ben Shapiro has to say on the subject[5].  From a purely secular viewpoint his oppositional reasoning is compelling and forceful.

When babies in the womb stop having red blood like our own, and stop bleeding like we do when cut, I will stand down.  Not until.  Neither should you – not unless you are pro-slavery like some of our more deluded forbears.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dred_Scott

[2] https://rtlofholland.org/abortion-statistics/

[3] https://townhall.com/tipsheet/timothymeads/2017/12/03/15yearold-prolifer-punched-in-face-outside-planned-parenthood-n2417454

[4] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/3/aborted-fetus-cells-used-in-anti-aging-products/

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDmwPGrZkYs; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkONHNXGfaM

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Why Should I?

In the wake of all the sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, issues centered around Hollywood elites and others, more than a few people are expressing their opinions, rebuking men in general, and moralizing about it.  Listening to them one might get the impression that they have fortified the moral high ground, having wisdom that transcends that of us mere mortals.  From thence they are happy to tell us what is right and wrong in all of it.

Many of them are atheists, agnostics, anti-Christ, anti-Christian, anti-religion-in-general types who exhibit no reluctance to lecture us on morally acceptable behavior either personally or in society.  Often smugly assertive and arrogant, they castigate anyone and everyone who does not adhere to what their heart tells them.  Like actors in a play, they listen eagerly for the applause of those who agree with them, their sycophantic audiences, as if the favor of their glib inner circle somehow makes them indisputably correct in their assumptions.

To them I ask:  What makes you think you have a right to dictate to me or anyone else what is morally acceptable behavior or not, aside from borrowing from God?  Why should anyone listen to you as you opine about morals, codes of ethics, and social conduct?  On what basis, other than your own opinion, do you legislate morality for the rest of us?

Can you answer me that?

Will you play the “majority rules” card?  “Might makes right”?  If so, you may not enjoy the actual practice of it unless you would have felt comfortable under the dictatorships of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein, or, currently, that of Kim Jong-un.  They ruled or rule with iron fists, having the military power to bend the masses to their will by bloody means if necessary.  Thus, if you subscribe to “might makes right” then you are not at liberty to complain nor object when it’s your own head, or a loved one’s, on the headsman’s block.

Do we vote on morals as a group?  Let democracy prevail; let the masses decide!  There is little difference between that and the dictatorship.  On one hand you have an individual’s might and on the other you have the “herd’s” might.  And who knows which way the herd will be headed at any given time?

Until you can provide me with an authority higher than yours, mine, or the mob’s, I don’t have to pay any attention to you.  Your opinion is no better than mine and mine is no better than yours.

However, I DO have a moral authority higher than my own and it is not my opinion.  I believe in the God of the Bible and in the deity and Lordship of Jesus Christ as revealed and claimed in the New Testament.  Granted, it’s your right to reject, dislike, disagree with, impugn, mock, and blaspheme Him and it but it is NOT a rejection of me and my religion but of God.  I will grieve over the horrific fate of your precious soul, and it is that indeed, but you will not be harming me by any of it.

And because the moral standard to which I subscribe is not my own, unlike yours, I will be happy to oblige when you tell me not to force it upon you, as you are so keen to do to me.

So, if you are anti-God, anti-Christ, against “organized religion” and deigning to pontificate about morality, you might as well vacate the bully pulpit.  You have no authority to legislate anything, much less morals, just as I have none.

Furthermore, you are no real atheist nor agnostic worth the title, for why would they care about morals?  If there is no God to answer to, then there is no standard of authority to guide us and rein in our appetites.  The sky is the limit.  It’s just a “dog eat dog world” after all and may the biggest, meanest, toughest, smartest, dog win.

I beg you to leave moralizing to believers in the Word of God.  At least we are not, or should not be, preaching our own version of it but His.  And He can, and will, back His up one Day, some day.

“Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king.  Therefore please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.

And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.”

2 Chronicles 18:12-13

 

 

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Honor and Respect

I must admit I felt my blood boil when I saw American football players kneeling while our national anthem was being played in Britain, but stood while “God Save the Queen” was played.  I could not imagine anyone having such a complete lack of respect not only for the nation of their birth, the freest in all the earth, where people climb fences and dig tunnels just to get in, but also for the blood of all those brave men and women who gave them any right to protest at all in a nation where they could do so without being arrested and jailed.  I was even more appalled by the anemic arguments put forth to justify it.  Even if there is any bias on the part of law enforcement against “people of color,” not ALL of law enforcement is guilty, so to protest the nation as a whole that way is condemning all of us.  The flag and national anthem represent the American IDEAL.  No one ever said America or Americans are perfect, but what we strive for, the best in human freedoms, is, and THAT is worthy of our collective respect.

There are good ways to protest injustice.  Wear a black armband.  March in peaceful protest. Vote. Better yet, do something about it.  What are we doing individually to correct human inequity besides the usual belly-aching and violence?  What have we given up, time and money, to feed, shelter, and clothe the poor of the inner cities if that is the main source of the problem?  People are paid millions of dollars to play a sport or star in movies.  How much of their income and their time is spent, percent-wise, on charity?  If you look closely, you’ll find it isn’t much.  Maybe that is what is driving this – rich man’s guilt.  How is their “taking a knee” going to remedy anything in real time and space?  It won’t, but man does it make for a great photo op to get the praise of your pals.

And if it was to show Trump who is the boss, well, it sure did – he played them like a fiddle, getting them to kneel like knee-jerk, reactionary, hive-minded robots in the process, forcing them to reveal their true colors to their fellow, and now thoroughly enraged, voters and fans.  Yes, the president singly handedly brought the NFL to its knees with this one.  Some people just can’t help themselves when it comes to President Trump.  He pipes and they dance.  (sigh)

Having said all that, bear with me please.  There is another issue in this vein that I must talk about, something that I say, without apology, distresses me even more.

There was a time in America long ago when a solid majority of people of all races, ethnicity, gender, etc., actually got up and went to church on Sunday.  They reverently called it the “Lord’s Day” and rightly so (Rev. 1:10).  They went to church to worship God to pay homage to Him together.  Many who claimed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior took Communion in honor of Him and HIS sacrifice.  They sang God’s praises loud and joyfully, listened patiently to His Word as it was preached and taught.  They accepted any and all rebukes from it stoically, many repenting of sins and shortcomings intending to do better, and encouraged one another in the process.  Then they went home recharged, rejuvenated, and renewed in mind and spirit to face the upcoming week.

Before God, whatever happened to that brand of respect and honor?!  As great as the sacrifice made by our soldiers is, and it is very great indeed, Jesus’ is even greater.  He died not only for His own countrymen but for the whole world (John 3:16).  He died not only for people who love Him and sing His praises, but for those who hate and despise Him too (Romans 5:8).  No greater Hero or Champion among human beings ever existed and yet look at us.  When was the last time you went to church?  Easter?  Christmas?  How often do you go?  Do you even go at all?  Statistics reveal church attendance is declining[1].  Are you among those who have quit going?

Having said that, are you more upset and distraught about people dishonoring our nation’s flag than over the pervasive dishonoring of Christ on HIS day?  Am I?

 Oh, you’re mad at me now?

Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

I confess to my shame that any “blood boiling” I have felt at THAT lack of respect by people has diminished over the years.  Yet my heart still grieves to see so many people disrespecting and dishonoring God by staying home on Sunday to sleep late, mow the lawn, hit the lake, or get to the store to make sure they have enough beer for the tail gate party that afternoon.  If you are wondering where in the Bible does it say I HAVE to go to assemble for church, then I rest my case.  (However, you just might want to check out Hebrews 10:23-32, esp. verse 25).

When we as a people come to disrespect and dishonor God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ long enough, it will become easier to disrespect and dishonor every other good thing including our nation’s flag and the sacrifice thousands of good people made for it.  That is the root of the problem.  The flag/anthem issue will not be corrected without correcting the Jesus/Heart issue.

Render honor to whom honor is due (Romans 13:7).  Don’t disrespect our flag/anthem because you believe our nation is driven by a national racist police force (as realistic statistics prove otherwise[2]).  But above all, don’t disrespect God because you love football, or anything else, more than Him and stay home on Sundays.

[1] https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016/

[2] http://www.dailywire.com/news/7264/5-statistics-you-need-know-about-cops-killing-aaron-bandler#

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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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