LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

OUR GOAL: ALWAYS PROVOCATIVE - ALWAYS BIBLICAL - ALWAYS EDIFYING. If you haven't already, please log on to our Kingdom Gospel Ministries website for a lot of info and a new drama each week - www.kingdomgospelministries.org

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Location: Phila Metro, Pennsylvania, United States

Tentmaking Evangelist (Architect). An Evangelist with the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 31st year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, and economic situations, and the producer of two weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many programs on the Internet. John is also a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 38th year working on a wide variety of projects. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 50 years and served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on It's Your Call TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

THE MISSING PIECE


We went to a Christmas eve celebration that had joy, innovation – with puppets telling the Christmas night essentials in a unique and sometimes hilarious fashion, and a jammed to the door crowd. There was “O Holy Night”, there were incredibly friendly people, and there were lots of kids – enthusiastic kids full of life.

Yet something was so disquieting in my spirit. Little clues.  A word here, a word there. Something was not right. In my nightly extended time with the Lord, I did some research.  What I found led to disappointment but also a confirmation that unfortunately once again my discernment of spirits was correct.

The church belongs to a denomination that does not believe that the Bible is without error.  They believe it is “God’s highest written authority”, but do not believe it is accurate in all that it says. They do not follow New Testament commandments for church life in multiple ways.  They do not believe the Genesis account given by the Holy Spirit on how the world was made.

I was drawn back to our drama THE COUNTERFEITERS that I wrote years ago.  One core ingredient of how Satan works is to change only the ESSENTIAL part.  A counterfeit twenty-dollar bill looks almost exactly like a real one.  It has to or it would be laughed at and never passed along unwittingly as real. The differences often are not caught by people looking at a counterfeit.  Yet the counterfeit bill is totally worthless.

So it is with the church. Who would go where from the pulpit the pastor would say that Jesus was a fraud? Or where there is no singing or joy or community?  To be sure there are places that openly deny the truth, but the best counterfeits are places that look like the real thing. Again, in “The Counterfeiters”, Archie Demon taught the demons in Demon Bible Institute that it HAD to look like the REAL thing.  That after all is the main point!

What Satan has done since the beginning of mankind in the Garden of Eden is to undermine total confidence in the Word of God.  Not “God lied”, but “Did God really say?” He did it then and he is doing it now.  He is undermining confidence in the Word of God in many places today.  The simple fact is that IF the Bible were wrong anywhere, it cannot be trusted for ANYTHING.  Satan knows this.  He will tell people that it is inerrant when it comes to SPIRITUAL matters in order to get his foot in the door, but it does not take long before one or more doubts about hell and eternal punishment, the mandate that salvation is only in Christ, that the Holy Spirit is a real person who lives in us, that our work is meant to bring glory to God, that the church is a live organism and not an mechanism for spiritual entertainment, that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman for life, that sex is reserved for marriage, that national salvation cannot come through politicians or the world system, and much more.  You see, once the seeds of doubt are planted, Satan waters them and they GROW.  Just lie when seeds of FAITH are planted, God waters them and THEY grow.

So while the very nice people we met may know God and love him, the foundation is deeply flawed.  When times are easy, the building may look OK and additions may even be made to it.  However, when the winds blow, that which is built on sand collapses. 

The Word of the Lord endures forever.  JESUS is the Word of God.  The Scriptures are GOD’S WORD.  Be sure that where you entrust your soul believes the ENTIRETY of the scriptures – leadership that believes that the Bible is 100% reliable as a science book, a history book, an anthropology book, a psychology book, AND a spiritual book.  IF they do not, they will have opened the door to DOUBTS which may seem like small variations of faith in the beginning, but which will lead to spiritual shipwreck in the end.

I LOVE the Word of God.  I trust it implicitly.   If I find something I cannot reconcile, I look for others more skilled than I to explain it or sometimes the Holy Spirit himself just downloads the answer to me directly.

An associate of mine became an atheist, heavily influenced by Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a book with the blasphemous title “GOD IS NOT GREAT”. Now to be sure, I probably agree with a lot of what he has to say about Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and the like. I would also be in confluence with criticisms of those who practice nominal Christianity but who deny the inerrancy of scripture, who follow vain traditions, and who have done much evil in this world. That is why true Christians may be as much of an enemy of “religion” as Christopher Hitchens. Yet, Hitchens, like Bertrand Russell in whose heritage he operates, fails to distinguish between dead and contradictory religion and true believers in God who demonstrate the fruits of knowing God. In the manner of a pompous fool, he drags out many recycled and perhaps a few original arguments of alleged inconsistencies in the Bible and arguments made by skeptics against the existence of God.

The now late Mr. Hitchens, who obviously now DOES believe in God, tore into the Bible with a vengeance, making out to be fools anyone who believed it.  He mocked its supposed contradictions and was oh so smug.    Since it is Christmas, I will give you one of those that Hitchens seemed particularly proud of and how the Holy Spirit explained it to me.

Matthew 2:13 says that right after the wise men left, Joseph had a dream and fled to Egypt. They stayed in Egypt until Herod died. Luke says that after everything that was required by the law was done - and that means Jesus being circumcised the 8th day and Mary underwent30 days of purification - Joseph and Mary went to Nazareth. You can feel his glee and self-satisfaction that Jesus could not have been in Egypt and Nazareth at the same time. Such are the joys of those who are looking for contradictions and not really interested in the truth. If I were Christopher Hitchens, I would hate to rest too much on this or any of his other points showing contempt for God. Let God be true and every man a liar. After all, the Holy Spirit wrote through the Apostle Paul that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us it is the power of God.

When I saw his argument, I realized that in 55 years of being a Christian, NOT ONE PASTOR had explained this seeming contradiction. It was simply IGNORED. That is not a good idea. There are many books written on Bible difficulties - Hitchens is not the first to notice passages which appear to have issues - and I value that those more learned than I have looked into them. However, I believe the Bible is true - an a priori assumption if you will, and within five minutes the Holy Spirit explained to me how all this could work and it is perfectly consistent and logical. Here is a sequence, which PERFECTLY fits with all scripture I could find on the subject:

1) Mary is impregnated by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:35)

2) Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem as ordered by the government. (Luke 2:1-4)

3) While there, Mary gives birth to Jesus. (Jesus was six months younger than John per Luke 1:36). His birthday was in the fall, based upon the time of Elizabeth’s conception six months earlier and the fact that Shepherds were in the field. We can get within a month based upon Zechariah’s service as a priest in the Abijah or eighth division. Serving twice a year, this would have been at the end if Iyyar (mid-April to mid-May) and again at the end of Marheshvan (mid-October to mid-November). It was the former because the latter would have put Jesus birth at about the Passover, and that would surely have been mentioned as Joseph and Mary would have stayed there for it.)

4) The star appeared to the Wise Men in the East when Jesus was born (Matthew 2:2) - they had to see the star, which may have been there a while before they saw it, had to arrange their trip and then travel many miles, which took much time in those days.

5) Jesus is circumcised eight days after birth (Luke 2:21)

6) After the 30 days of purification, Jesus as the first-born was presented in the temple and the sacrifice of a pair of birds was made (Luke 2:22-24)

7) Joseph and Mary go to Nazareth to live. (Luke 2:39)

8) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus go up to Jerusalem for Passover (spring of his first year) ñ Luke 2:41 says that they went up EVERY year, so that included when Jesus was about six months old and about eighteen months old.

9) It is not stated, but also not precluded that they stayed in Bethlehem when they went for the Passover in Jerusalem. Given Jesus’ family ties to Bethlehem, it was their most likely location to stay.

10) Matthew 2 says the wise men arrived in Jerusalem AFTER Jesus was born. It does not say HOW LONG after. However, Matthew 2:16 makes it clear that from the time that the star first appeared until Herod realized he had been tricked by the wise men, it was long enough that Herod used two years as the cut off point. They were delayed with Herod before they went to Bethlehem, so we know they were definitely not there with the shepherds as so many manger scenes show it. Besides, the wise men went to a HOUSE, not a stable (Luke 2:11). Further, they were likely not to have been expected to find Jesus immediately, and some time transpired after the Magi found Jesus until Herod realized he had been tricked. This fits in with the Wise men seeing Jesus either when he was about six months old or 18 months old, most likely the latter.

11) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were visited by the wise men in a HOUSE in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11).

12) The wise men presented their gifts, all of which were readily convertible for cash or trade as would be needed for a stay in Egypt (Matthew 2:11).

13) Joseph was warned in a dream that Herod would try to kill Jesus, so he fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)

14) The wise men also had a dream not to see Herod again, so they returned home another way. (Matthew 2:12)

15) Herod slaughtered infants under two years old (Matthew 2:16-18) - all this explains and is consistent with why Herod did not simply kill those infants under one year old.

16) Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth once again after Herod’s death and remained there to rear Jesus (Luke 2:39-40).


Now someone with Hitchens’ mind could have figured this out, but when you do not believe, or perhaps more importantly, do not WANT to believe, you will not accept the truth no matter what.

Such was the case with the Scribes and Pharisees who KNEW that Jesus was raised from the dead but paid soldiers to LIE about it.  And so it continues to this day.  We have folks who actively disbelieve, and even when someone comes back from the dead, they will NOT believe.

Be careful that you do not allow unbelief to enter your life, no matter how minor you think the issue is.  Have complete confidence in God.  He will water your faith and cause it to grow and you will become a giant in God like those men and women of God listed in Hebrews 11.  

May God bless you this Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

LOSING YOUR WAY

It has become sadly apparent that the church has lost its way. It lets the world dictate to it. Ever see the book "UNCHRISTIAN"? It moans about Christians being perceived as anti-gay!   Well, we had better be anti-gay because GOD is.  Homosexuality is an abomination to God and it better be to us. We of course want to bring the gospel to everyone, but I am distressed at the books and accounts which call for Christians to sympathize with what is one of the devils strongest fronts in his war against God.

It goes far beyond homosexuality of course.  That is just one front.  Heterosexual Christians are engaging in premarital sex and in sexual perversions in the marriage bed.  One "Christian" source actually counseled Christian singles to maintain their virginity by saving oral and anal sex instead! Where on earth are the standards of holiness of God?  He is no spoilsport, but there are boundaries.

How about the more mundane things - money for example.  God tells us not to seek it, not to let it master us, and for real not to serve it.  Yet many of the most successful churches teach people that you CAN serve God and mammon - in fact, having mammon is a sign you are serving God!

The people today in the church have become essentially clones of those in the world.  IF one states a clear Biblical teaching or principle, there will be a tart rejoinder - "That is just YOUR opinion!" The standard of the word is ill-regarded by most who call themselves "born-again".   The Word says the World was created in six days and Jesus actually engraved it in stone on the tablets given to Moses when explaining the commandment on the Sabbath. There are numerous Christian organizations that teach the ideas of secular humanists who despise the word of God.

The Bible forbids women from exercising authority over a man, yet some denominations are flooded with female ministers and some of the most popular TV preachers are women. This extends to the home where it is considered Neanderthal for a man to be the head of his home. Decisions are supposed to be made jointly. Some teach the man breaks the tie if that occurs, but many don't even go there.  The vow of the wife to obey is omitted from wedding ceremonies.

No wonder people lose their way. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, and they reject HIS authority the same way they reject the husband's authority,  They put their ideas on par with Christ's. No wonder so much compromise has occurred.  I am familiar with a situation where the wife DID vow to obey, but she long since refuses to obey her husband.  She has wondered into a multiplicity of errors, a tragedy to that marriage.

We must be loyal to the word of God and we must follow what it says.  We must be submitted to Christ and to the authority that HE establishes in the earth.  When we don't, we surely lose our way.