Many Christians today believe that this world that we now live in—with all of its rules and regulations, sin and evil, will only be changed after Jesus returns and establishes God’s Kingdom on earth.

But when the Pharisees demanded answers concerning the kingdom Jesus preached, He answered, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

So if the kingdom of God is within us, why do Christians today still desire the things of the world? Do you not know that what is deemed valuable and important in the eyes of men is meaningless in the sight of God?

Consider what the apostle John wrote: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

So what are the things that people in this world look up to or consider valuable? The number one thing is probably money. But what does the Bible say about the love of money? “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Think also about some of the people today that are highly esteemed in man’s kingdom: Business owners, lawyers, judges, politicians, bankers and the like.

All of those occupations and more, are meaningless in the kingdom of God because in the age to come, they will cease to exist!

In Daniel 2:44-45 we read: “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

Jesus is the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands—the very stone which the rebellious builders rejected. And he will break into pieces every worldly kingdom that exists, from the gold down to the clay.

But if God has already rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins,(Col. 1:13) then together we have already become a holy nation, to show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9)

The kingdom of God has not been given to rebels who reject the chief Cornerstone, but it is given to the holy nation so that it bears spiritual fruit. (Matt. 21:43)

Consider when the authorities of the time who sought to condemn Paul and Silas (And others who listened to them) for preaching the gospel of Jesus. Some of the Jews were jealous, so they sent some “lewd fellows of the baser sort” to search for Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house! They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they (The unbelieving Jews) heard this, they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. (From Acts 17:1-9)

The word which has been translated “the baser sort” is the same word used in Hebrew to signify shel goyim, or judges of the Gentiles. These were probably a lowly type of lawyer, what we would call bloodsuckers, or attorneys without principle who defend criminals and bring trifle disputes and litigations among people for personal financial gain.

This is precisely the same way that persecution against the truth and followers of Christ is still carried out. Some wicked man hires a wicked attorney and hauls the minister of Christ into court in front of some wicked judge who knows as little about the minister as he does about the Gospel.The preacher is fined or imprisoned, his hearers may suffer the same fate for listening to that Gospel which has not only made them wise unto salvation, but also made them peaceable and orderly citizens, and which would have had the same effect on the judge, the the attorney, and the mob, had they heard it with the same reverence and respect. This is the case which frequently occurs where the Gospel is preached in its spirit and power.

The description of turning the world upside down, is an excellent description of what the Kingdom of God should look like as compared to the world we live in today. But how many of us have sought help from man’s kingdom rather than seeking God’s kingdom? We seek help from attorneys; from our congress; from our senators; we become active in our political process and become involved in community programs, believing it will change our world for the better.

Sam Shoemaker has written on this subject: “The rise of statism in our time is the natural result of the longing of godless, unchurched people for some kind of protection. When we lose to God we turn to what looks like the next most powerful thing, which is the state. How bad a choice that is, let Germany and Russia in recent years testify.”

Matthew 6:33 tells us to “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” AND THEN, “all these other things will be added to you.” But most Christians today have it backwards. They want “all these things” first, AND THEN they will seek the kingdom of God.

John the Baptist preached, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”  But is it now not at hand? Is not the King seated on His holy throne? Is not this why we plead with men and women to be reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of His Son?

Yet despite the obvious benefits, mankind still refuses to change and fights vigorously against the Kingdom of God. The primary reason why the world is the way it is today is because the Bible clearly shows us that Satan rules this world. (See John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11) So it should be no surprise to us that the world is becoming more and more wicked and depraved. For if Satan is ruler of this world, he will also make sure to place his followers in key positions in high places of governments. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

We do not see the world being turned upside down today because too many Christians are still in love with the world and its system. That is why the apostle Paul, quoting the prophet Isaiah said, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

If only Christians would stop and reflect on these things, many deceptions about culture, race and class would be cast down by the knowledge of God.

In his upcoming book, “The Unknown Kingdom of God” https://universityofhardknocks.academia.edu/TimPrice my friend Tim Price writes: “We need to dig deeper and listen to God! We need to discern truth from error! We need to see that comfort, belonging and cultural acceptance are not items that Christ ever sought or promised those who follow him! We need to go back to the Bible and see God’s purposes that are planned in scripture but have become obscured because we have raised other points to such a pitch that God’s intent is drowned out! The love of theology and systems of thought have blinded us to God’s purposes! Reformers of the 17th century were mostly correct when they espoused sola scriptura [scripture only]! They should have paid attention to their own admonition and completed the work that God called them to do instead of investing in their own voluminous interpretations of scripture, and maintaining the institution calling itself “church” as a cog of the systems of the unbelieving world around them instead of the alternative God purposed: the kingdom of God.“

My intent is not to judge or diminish what you may understand of Scripture. My prayer is that this will encourage you to keep seeking God and His kingdom and add to your own knowledge so that together we may once again turn the world upside down for Christ!

I want you here with Me

But you’ve been keeping other company

You can’t sit still, it’s plain to see

You love the world and you’re avoiding Me

Keith Green (October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982)

 

 

“Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59: 1-2)

There are many Christians today that excuse their sin by claiming that because we are human, we do not have the capacity to stop sinning. Isn’t that the reason that Jesus died and was resurrected? “We are no longer under Law but under grace.” they say. There are some in AA circles who have even referred to sin as “character flaws” or “allergies”. But it is the power of Jesus in us that REMOVES our character flaws! And even when one has an allergy to something, they CHOOSE to partake of it or refuse it. It’s not that it is impossible for us to NOT sin, it’s that we CHOOSE to sin.

But to have victory over sin will involve a total daily surrender of Self, (Our own desires, will, and selfish nature) to God. Surrender to God simply means acknowledging to Him that all things you desire; personal as well as spiritual, good as well as bad, by His grace and by the power of His spirit, you agree to give up in order that He might be glorified. You also have to acknowledge that in your flesh, (that is, in your own strength) this is impossible to accomplish.

Self is an impossible force to deal with on our own. It is the foundation of all sin and all the problems that have plagued societies and civilizations since the fall of man. Everything from lust, to murder, to war are all sins derived from Self. Wars are being waged simply because someone has something that the other wants and cannot have. Neither side will compromise, so they go to war. (James 4:5-6)

Sam Shoemaker, (December 27, 1893 – October 31, 1963) is considered one of the best preachers of his era, whose sermons were syndicated for distribution by tape and radio networks for decades, Shoemaker served as the rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City, the United States headquarters of the Oxford Group during the 1930s, and was a significant influence for the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. http://aa-history.com/samshoemaker.html Shoemaker wrote over thirty books, about half of which were circulating before A A’s 12 Steps were first published in the Big Book in 1939.

A year after his death, Shoemaker’s daughter, Helen Shoemaker-Rea, compiled a collection of Shoemaker’s writings for the book, “Sam Shoemaker-at his best EXTRAORDINARY LIVING FOR THE ORDINARY MAN”. They first appeared in, Faith At Work Magazine, New York, N.Y.

The following are excerpts from the chapter called, “Victory Over Self” of that book:

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“We are at war today as surely as we were in the ‘40s and are in the midst of making the same mistakes again… We fight with force against the enemy without because we have not learned to fight with faith against the enemy within. The real war is within. What we need today, more than anything else, more than victory in the war against aggression, are weapons, manpower, and strategy to win the war against selfishness. We need, and must have, victory over ourselves, before any outward victory will mean anything more than a temporary cessation of human conflict….”

“Let us face at the outset how many Christians are not victorious, but defeated. Defeated by circumstances, defeated by other peoples’ natures and wrong-doings, defeated by the down-drag of the flesh, defeated by loss, by pain, by suffering, by worry. Instead of saying with confidence, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” they have to say in honesty, “This is the defeat that has been caused by the world, even our self-centeredness.” That is the opposite of faith. Unbelief is not the opposite of faith; self-centeredness is—being centered in self rather than in God.”

“Victory over sin. This victory begins in the life and death of our Lord himself—in his life, because “he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin”—in his death, because there he took upon himself the sin of the world, suffered in our stead, made redemption possible for us. We need to be redeemed from sin first, to have salvation put in its place by our Savior. Then we need to claim his power over our sins, one by one. Most of us fight a dreary battle for character, or else give it up entirely, and just give in to the desires that assail us—desires to coddle and indulge the body, to please and amuse the mind, to fritter away the life with trivial pursuits, to win out over somebody else, to “get ours.” The way to deal with sin is not to try to hate sin more, but to love Christ more.”

“All the victory of which we have been speaking is a derived victory. We can win the victory only because Christ won it long ago. We participate in his victory by faith.Faith is like a wire, along which he sends the power, the love, the guidance, that enable us to share in his victory. Faith is not just a belief of the mind; faith is the set of the whole personality God-ward. It doesn’t begin with beliefs, but obedience.”

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If only people could realize that by surrendering Self to God and living by principles taught through the Holy Scriptures wars would cease, crime rates would go down and divorce would be all but non-existent. But as long as people refuse to surrender Self to God, all of these things will continue to plague the world and will increase in its intensity over time. That’s why we must rely on God to give us the grace we need that will allow us to surrender Self to Him. God promises in his Word that if we’re honest, admit that we’re powerless in our own nature to surrender, and humble ourselves before him, he’ll give us the grace we need to do it.

There are some who will still be convinced that it is impossible for one not to sin. But listen to what God says:

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.“ (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) [Emphasis mine]

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (Burdensome)

But it is only by God’s grace that we can accomplish this. To some surrendering Self to God will become as easy as shedding a winter coat in Spring, while others will struggle daily to accomplish it.

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 how he struggled with what he calls his “thorn in the flesh”. Some have suggested that Paul struggled with some physical malady, while others are convinced that it was spiritual in nature. We may never know until the resurrection what it was, but we do know that God gave Paul the grace to endure it.

Grace is not a replacement or an excuse for sin. Paul himself said, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Before becoming Navy SEALs, candidates are put through some of the most mentally challenging and physically demanding training in the world, commonly referred to as “hell week.” Very few candidates successfully complete the training. I recall hearing a story about the last day of training. Just after completing a rigorous exercise, the instructor told the candidates to complete another 1000-yard swim with fins in 20 minutes or under. Two of the candidates staggered over and rang the bell, signifying that they could not physically complete the task. The remainder of the candidates immediately received their SEAL Trident, designating them as Navy SEALs. You see, the instructor wanted to see who was WILLING to go the extra mile.

We too, need to be willing to do what it takes to have victory over sin. So with the help of God’s grace, we must decide to die to self and follow Christ no matter what.

“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)

I have heard many men and women complain about how hard it is to find a good spouse. Many of these people become impatient and settle for someone less than ideal for them, while others are so overly cautious, that they miss the very one that God has chosen for them. (Myself included)

What many people don’t realize is that the Bible gives us much wisdom—Not just on spiritual decisions, but on common sense decisions as well.

To know if a woman should be involved with a man, refer to 1 Timothy 3:1-13 where the apostle Paul writes about the qualifications of bishops and deacons in the Church.

So look for someone who is:

  • Sensible
  • Hospitable,
  • An apt teacher,
  • Not a drunkard,
  • Not violent or quarrelsome
  • Not a lover of money
  • Not conceited
  • Well thought of by others
  • Not double-tongued
  • Not addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • Faithful to God with a clear conscience

Now, no man is going to be perfect, but if he adheres to these character traits most of the time, then you know he is safe to be with. (And remember it also says to let them be tested!)

Men are also given advice about the women they should seek out in verse 11:

  • They must be respected
  • They must not slander others
  • They must exercise self-control
  • Be faithful in everything they do

You probably notice that there are more qualifications for men than for women. That’s because men are to be the leader. Therefore, more responsibility rests on him.

Many men have obsessed over finding a “Proverbs 31 Woman” as a wife. This hypothetical woman in Proverbs 31 is skillful in a lot of different things—And she’s skillful in all of them. News flash guys: SHE DOES NOT EXIST!

According to the chapter, she wakes up super early, has great biceps, buys property, is always dressed elegantly, keeps her home warm at night and keeps herself looking great all the time, and still has time to care for the poor!

Many women would read this passage and think, “Sheesh! How am I supposed to try and fit into this mold?”

What if she can’t sew or cook? What if she’s not a great housekeeper? Does that mean she’s not living up to her God-given potential as a female? Of course not!

Many Bible scholars believe that the “Proverbs 31 Woman” is not really a woman at all, but rather a personification of wisdom. If you read the whole book of Proverbs, you’ll realize that wisdom is consistently referred to as “she.” In the final chapter, I believe that the analogy of a woman here is used to depict a tangible example of wisdom in action.

Notice that the only instruction in the chapter that is given to men concerning a woman is in the last verse: “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

In Jewish culture, men memorize this chapter as a song of praise to the women in their lives. But in Western culture, it is instead often used as a shopping list to be fulfilled in a future wife.

There’s a common Acronym that is written, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) Men should focus more Proverbs 31 verses 1 through 10.

It first warns of the dangers of wasting time on loose women and drunkenness, encourages us to ensure justice for the poor and downtrodden. And then verse 10 tells us, “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.”

So get rid of your “Wife Qualification List” and focus more on how you can better be qualified as a husband.

My Final thoughts

I don’t think God is as concerned about WHO we marry as much as he is concerned about how we treat the one we’re married to.

Wives, your primary goal is to help make your husband the very best he can be. Not by nagging or being demanding, but by trusting God to direct his steps. If your husband is a godly man who prays and listens to God, then all you have to do is pray and trust God. And even if you are married to an unbeliever, your goal is the same. Because your unbelieving husband might be saved because of you. (1 Corinthians 7:16)

Husbands, your primary goal is to help make your wife the very best she can be. Not by lording over her and demanding that she submit to your every whim, but by praising her for all the good she does for you and supporting her in all she does.

And most importantly, pray for each other.

To those who are still waiting for God to choose that special person for you, remember that Psalms 27:14 teaches us to, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.”

Living in our “fast food society” we can sometimes feel that God has let us down because He does not provide an immediate answer to a prayer. But waiting for the Lord can transform us into a people of growing faith.

King David spent many years waiting to be crowned king and fleeing from Saul’s wrath. It was probably during that time that David wrote those encouraging words in Psalms 27.

So just keep waiting on the Lord and he SHALL strengthen your heart. Delight yourself in Him and He WILL give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37)

Many were shocked to discover through some recently released undercover videos that Planned Parenthood may be involved in harvesting fetal body parts for profit. This has led to an outrage among abortion opponents and congress considering defunding Planned Parenthood.

This should be no surprise to those who are familiar with Scripture. For the Bible teaches us that Satan is “the ruler of this world “. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4) He is the thief that comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10) And those who follow him will do the same.

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, made the following statement on a video she made defending its practice of harvesting fetal body parts. *Note that Planned Parenthood has denied selling fetal body parts for a profit, which is against federal law, but they DO admit to harvesting those fetal body parts for scientific research.

“In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZUjU4e4fUI  (Notice that she refers to unborn babies as “tissue”)

But is that how God views the unborn—As nothing more than “tissue”? 

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139: 13-16 )

Who was in the womb? David! A literal and living person. The Bible never uses anything less than human terms to describe the unborn.

But the Bible isn’t alone in declaring this truth. Science also declares that an unborn child is just as much an independent human being as you. Most organs in the embryo begin to form at about 3 weeks after fertilization. Shortly thereafter, the area that will become the brain and spinal cord begins to develop. The heart and major blood vessels begin to develop earlier—by about day 16. The heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day. Blood vessels continue to develop in the embryo and placenta. Almost all organs are completely formed by about 10 weeks after fertilization. At twelve weeks, the child will often struggle for life two or three hours when removed from the mother. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/normal-pregnancy/stages-of-development-of-the-fetus

There have been over 50 million abortions performed since 1973, the year the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision ushering in legal abortion nationwide. With all of the unrest and disfunction in America today, I find it hard to believe that not one of those 50 million babies would not have grown up to be someone who would lead this country back to its original greatness.

Today, Jesus could say, “America, America, you who kill the prophets and leaders sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (From Matthew 23:37)

Nazi Ethics and Planned Parenthood

The doctors during the Nazi regime, like Planned Parenthood, also felt that they were doing wonderful work for humanity. This raises a critical issue. The doctors in Nazi Germany took the Hippocratic Oath, yet they knowingly violated the Hippocratic principle of “do no harm”.

How were they able to reconcile this glaring contradiction? To begin to address this contradiction, an examination must be made of some of the moral premises utilized. In Nazi Germany, Jews, Gypsies, the mentally and/or physically challenged and others were methodically excluded from society through a series of laws known as the Nuremberg Laws; thus making them non-persons.

These racial policies had a strong grounding in genetics and evolutionary biology. One need only look at some of the many written explanations by the Nazi government to prevent offspring with hereditary illnesses:“In the case of plants and animals cultivated by humans, care is taken to weed out the less valuable. Only the useful and valuable genetic material is preserved. That is also what nature wants through the law of selection. Should not we do the same with people? Or shall the lines of our people with hereditary illnesses overcome the healthy? That would mean the self-dissolution and destruction of the whole people, for a people that suffers from hereditary illnesses is not able to maintain itself in the great battle of selection between the peoples! http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/MEDICAL_ETHICS_TEXT/Chapter_7_Human_Experimentation/Reading-Nazi-experimentation.htm

In line with this thinking, prisoners were not viewed as human individuals, but rather as “living cultures” to be used with no consideration for their wellbeing. (Sound familiar?) 

We may not all be as cruel as the Nazis, but do we view certain human beings as less human than us?

While there is no argument that Hitler abhorred the Jews and caused almost six million to be ruthlessly killed, Eleven million precious human lives were lost during the Holocaust. Five million of these were non-Jewish. Who were they? Whose children, whose mothers and fathers were they? Jehovah Witnesses, Gypsies, homosexuals, Blacks, and Catholic priests were among the forgotten five million. But how could five million human beings have been killed and forgotten?

Worse yet, is that in the post-war years, many of these survivors were never recognized as victims of the Holocaust during their lives and never lived to be repatriated, as many of the Jewish survivors and their families were.

Pro-Life or Anti-Abortion?

There are many now who claim that they are pro-life and stand in front of Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics proudly holding up their signs announcing their disgust of abortion. But are they really pro-life, or just anti-abortion?

Many of the so-called pro-life groups do little or nothing to help young girls deal with their life changing decision after they have talked them out of getting abortions. Many of these young girls who keep their babies later find out that they are unprepared to raise a child on their own. With little education, no job prospects and no understanding of raising a child, many of these poor girls end up raising their child in high poverty, high crime neighborhoods. Statistics show that in this environment, neglecting and abusing their child becomes a real possibility. http://www.nber.org/digest/jan00/w7343.html

Sadly, many of these mothers (and children) are forgotten by those who worked so hard to prevent them from having an abortion.

Fortunately, there are organizations who are truly pro-life who not only help young pregnant girls make wise decisions concerning their unborn babies, but they also advise them on the options of adoption—and if they decide to keep the baby, they counsel them on parenting, help them to get an education, find work,  housing, daycare  and supply them with essentials like baby clothes, bottles, cribs, etc. But those organizations are few and far between.

Abortion is wrong because reduces human life to nothing more than tissue. And harvesting body parts from an unborn murder victim, regardless of the reason, is akin to child sacrifice—innocents who are sacrificed on the altar of choice to be sold to the highest bidder.

But the Bible is also clear on what we as Christians should do when it comes to helping these vulnerable young mothers:

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Gal. 6:10)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:4)

“We are confronted today with the essential question of what it means to be human,” Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life says. “How we answer affects us all. This is a moral flashpoint for our country that will define our generation.”

Being pro-life is more than just preventing abortions.

If you are pregnant and don’t know what to do, get help at:

http://www.lifecall.org/cpc.html

If you have had an abortion, know that there is still forgiveness through Jesus.

I have been a follower of Jesus for years and have spent a lot of time reading God’s Word, so I was astounded to find that so few Christians know the basic beliefs of Christianity. Take for example this simple question, “Do Christians go directly to heaven and unbelievers go directly to hell the instant they die?”

The Church and Immortality of the Soul

Many Christians are taught the doctrine of immortality of the soul, but the Bible doesn’t teach that. In fact, in Genesis, it proclaims that the first humans were created mortal, with only the POTENTIALITY for immortality if one reads it in context. They were told specifically to “replenish” the earth but then after they had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they were sent in exile from Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) to PREVENT them from eating also of the tree of life and BECOMING immortal. Thus, the story, if taken literal, indicates human life, like all other life is mortal.

The same word used to describe the life-force, or soul, is used for both human and other animal life in many places. “…and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul.” (Genesis chapter 1: 30) By using Scripture we can explore the concept of the soul, or life-force ( nephesh) ) And note that it does not indicate that the soul is naturally immortal in these passages.

Job describes death as lying down and sleeping, not being awaken.

“But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come” (Job 14: 10-14)

Job is not arguing against the concept of the resurrection. Rather, he pleads with God to hide him in Sheol (The grave) until his wrath is past, and then remember him, causing him to live again! (v.13-14) One cannot ask for a more clear statement of the hope of resurrection. Later, Job asserts that he has a Redeemer who lives, and that he (Job) will see God in a resurrected body, long after his present body has been consumed.

Daniel describes the resurrection as waking from sleep in the dust.

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:2-3)

Is it not clear what Daniel is predicting in chapter 12? He speaks of those who are sleeping in the dust, awakening to everlasting life. Others who awake will not see life, but suffer shame and everlasting contempt. Jesus used the same language to describe the resurrection. He said “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29)

Many will argue that Job and Daniel were Old Testament views and that everything changed after Jesus died came. But in John 11 Jesus comes face to face with the reality of death when his friend Lazarus dies. It is in this context that we read the shortest verse in the New Testament – “Jesus wept.” Death is real, and it is a real tragedy. Yet Jesus describes Lazarus’ death with that same metaphor that appears throughout the text of Scripture. He said that Lazarus had fallen asleep. His disciples did not get it. They thought that he was describing the beginning of Lazarus’ recovery.  They assumed that if he were literally sleeping, then the worst of his illness was over, and he would soon be getting better. So Jesus had to spell it out for them and explain that his friend was already dead.

Paul teaches that most will sleep, but some will be changed without it:

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 )

Paul affirms what readers have seen elsewhere in the Bible. Death is a sleep from which believers will be awaken. This awakening will take place “at the last trumpet.” (The resurrection)

When Peter delivered his sermon at Pentecost he said, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.” (Act 2:29) He later said, “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.” (Acts 2: 34-35)

If David, who was a man after God’s own heart, did not ascend to heaven, where is he? Peter said he is still in his sepulcher! Along with Clement of Rome (who died about100 AD), Ignatius (died about 107), the Didache (about 120), Barnabus (died about 140), The Shepherd of Hermas (about 154), Polycarp (died about 155), Justin Martyr (about165), Tatian (about 172), Iranaeus (about 202), and a host of others. They are all still dead in their graves!

So where did this notion of natural immortality come from?

Almost every ancient culture has some form of notion of either an immortal transcendent being or that the dead live on in some kind of other world or afterlife so it is almost impossible to note exactly when the very first instance of that belief appeared in the human mind. The ancient Egyptians had this notion evident in their elaborate preparations for the afterlife for their dead.

But the Early Church Fathers never questioned the Biblical teaching of the mortality of man, the sleep of the dead, and the resurrection to eternal life or to judgment. They never speak of the natural immortality of the soul, nor of eternal, unending punishment of hell. They present death as the cessation of life, and immortality of the righteous achieved only at the resurrection – therefore, immortality for man is conditional.

The Bible consistently uses a metaphor for death that is viewed as neither socially or theologically appropriate among most Christians. It calls death a sleep. But if a believer slips and refers to the dead as sleeping, judging from the reaction among traditionalists, you would think that they had shot God!

A long standing tradition within Christianity asserts that death is a move to a new higher level of consciousness where the righteous are rewarded for their good deeds on earth or punished for their rejection of God and Jesus. Consequently, anyone who dares to imply that the intermediate state of the dead is one of unconscious sleep runs the risk of being branded a heretic or cult member.

Nevertheless, it would do us all well to return to biblical terminology instead of traditions that keep us from using the Bible as our guide. The biblical authors knew what they were talking about. The Holy Spirit inspired them to write words which expressed the way things really are. It is not their fault that the popular church has chosen to see and say things differently.

I have heard so many Christians refer to the passing of their loved ones as watching over them from heaven. But thinking logically, how could one enjoy their eternity in heaven if they had to witness the murders, rapes, and other crimes being committed against their loved ones on earth? And what sense does it make for God to condemn an unbeliever to the flames of hell only to pull them out at the resurrection to judge them and then throw them back into the flames? Is that the actions of a loving God?

John Wyclif, while Professor of Theology at Oxford University, translated the Bible into English. He taught soul-sleep, and that the Rich Man and Lazarus was a parable and couldn’t be used as a basis of theology. Wycliffe also declared that the fate of the wicked was everlasting punishment, not continuing punishment.

Martin Luther also emphatically rejected belief in the immortality of the soul, and held that death is a sound, sweet sleep. Had it not been for John Calvin, it is possible that Conditional Immortality (soul sleep) would have become the predominant view in the Protestant churches. Whereas Luther rejected the Roman Catholic teaching of the immortality of the soul, John Calvin re-introduced it.

Now we can understand what Jesus was doing in John 11 when Lazarus died. He was explaining to his disciples that death is not the end, because he (the Resurrection and the Life) will not allow it to be. But make no mistake about it – if there were no Jesus, death would be the end. We can call death sleep only because there is a Jesus who intends to raise the dead. So calling death sleep is a statement of faith in Christ.

Refusing to call death sleep is also a statement of faith. It reflects a faith in death itself.  It joins Plato and other pagan philosophers in affirming that God created the human soul indestructible, and therefore it must remain alive after the death of the body. So the real person never sleeps but remains conscious during the intermediate state of death, and indeed for all eternity.

In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 we read, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

That time HAS come. So it is even more important to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

To teach and perpetuate fables that are not biblically sound is worldly and carnal.

More to come….

The early Church in the Book of Acts were making people angry by preaching the truth. Some of them were martyred, willing to die for the cause of Christ. After hearing the gospel message many who had been involved with the occult brought their “curious arts” and burned them in a bonfire. (Acts 19:19) The worth of the books and items were 50,000 pieces of silver. (hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s value) The local idol makers were so enraged at Paul, that the other believers had to keep him from the angry mob waiting to tear him to pieces. (Acts 19:30)

This is what happens when people begin to live according to the truth of the Bible. Because it reduces the profits of beer companies and taverns, drug dealers, godless Hollywood film makers, strip clubs, pornography and prostitution. It causes women to keep their babies instead of murdering them and therefore decreases the profits of the abortion clinics and its providers. Praise God, when Jesus returns he will put all these evil people out of business for good!

Please notice that the early believers didn’t just preach a salvation message. They also spent much time speaking against sin and warning of being deceived by it. (James 4:17, Romans 6:23, 1 John 1:8-10, 1 John 3:4, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

But most preachers today only preach a “feel good” salvation message. They don’t preach against sexual immorality, idolatry, drunkards, or swindlers. They don’t expose the corruption and lies of the world and rarely preach about spiritual zeal and fervor. Most of what is taught in churches today is an “I’m okay, you’re okay, because we’re covered in the blood of Jesus gospel”.

I remember soon after I was saved, going to renew my driver’s license. It took me several minutes to convince the woman at the DMV that the photo on my old license was really me. You see, my countenance had completely changed so much that my “old self” didn’t even resemble who I had become! I was literally a new person!

And yet many Christians today are taught that they are “just sinners saved by grace”. But is that what the early Church taught?

A scripture that would appear to agree on this point is from the Apostle Paul: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Because of Paul’s present tense use of the phrase, “worst of sinners” he makes it sound as if it were applicable to him at the time he wrote it. But if we look at this anomaly more closely, I’m sure you’ll see that the unusual use of verbs is Paul’s writing style and is/was a common Hebrew way of writing.

In the Preface to Youngs Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, the translator tells us of two principles to understand about Hebrew writers. (even though they may be writing in the Greek language)

  1. That the Hebrews were in the habit of using the past tense to express the certainty of an action taking place, even though the action might not really be performed for some time.
  2. That the Hebrews, in referring to events which might be either past or future were accustomed to act on the principle of transferring themselves mentally to the period and place of the events themselves, and were not content with coldly viewing them as those of a bygone or still coming time; hence the very frequent use of the present tense.

Apparently, that is what Paul did. He placed himself in the past as though it were the present. Similar to what Daniel did as he confessed his sins and the sins of his country to God in Daniel chapter nine.

Are Christians Called Sinners In Scripture? 

The first scripture that comes to mind is Romans 5:6, 8:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. . . . But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us. (All emphasis added is mine and is not in Scripture)

First please note that Christ died for the ungodly (vs. 6) and then Christ died for sinners. (vs. 8) Paul equates the ungodly with sinners. Christians are never characterized as ungodly. Next note that the past tense is used  while we were still sinners. That clearly implies a change of status. While we were still sinners is a prior status of being sinners, different from what the recipients of the letter were as Paul wrote to them. Who were the recipients of the letter? Paul described them: To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints. (Romans 1:7) Paul did not address his letter to sinners saved by grace, but to those called to be saints!

There are 28 uses of the word sinners and 13 of the word sinner in the New Testament Scripture. None refer to people who have come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus.

Jesus also made a distinction between sinners and the righteous:

Jesus revealed that the purpose of his coming was to save sinners:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17 — See also Luke 15:7,10 and Matthew 9:12-13)

Many are taught that we all sin hundreds of times every day, and all we have to do is confess our sins and God is faithful and just to forgive us. But if we read 1 John we discover what the Apostle said about the relationship to God and the people who continue in sin:

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6) “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.” (1 John 5:18)

According to the Apostle John, if someone is sinning hundreds of times each day he is not living in Christ Jesus and does not have a true saving faith. Twice John says Christians do NOT continue to sin.

The writer to the Hebrews addressed the issue of deliberately continuing in sin. His warning is frightening:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26)

It would appear that those who have received the knowledge of the truth but thereafter deliberately continue in sin are in a terrible position. They are called enemies of God.

But in our 21st century, it is politically correct to have a tolerant attitude toward almost everything. That seems to include sin. There is not an abhorrence of sin, of seeing it through Gods eyes, nor a recognition that continuing in sin will prevent a person from inheriting the kingdom of God. Not concerned about being politically correct, Paul wrote:

“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)

Paul warns that a person who continues to habitually sin (a sinner) but who calls himself a Christian brother, is dangerous to the health of the body and should be shunned. From Johns’ writings we know that such a person is not a true believer even though he may profess to be a Christian.

None of us who are Christians with a saving faith should ever call ourselves a sinner. It is not appropriate to try to claim common ground with unbelievers by saying that you also are a sinner. Scripture says otherwise. Christians are not sinners. If you are a sinner, one who habitually sins, you are not a true believer. In that case you can properly call yourself a sinner. Please note the distinction: Christians do occasionally sin. A sinner habitually sins. The Christian (should) immediately repent and seek Gods forgiveness. The sinner does not.

A Christian can properly say, I was a sinner, but I have been saved by grace.

Sinners hate to have their sin exposed. It was true in the days of the early Church and is still true today. When you tell someone who likes to party and get drunk that what they are doing is a sin, they will become angry and belligerent. If you try to explain why abortion is a sin to someone who supports a woman’s right to an abortion, they may become combative toward you. And if you point out the sin of homosexuality, people will accuse you of hate speech and may even physically attack you. (Which has happened often lately) So much for tolerance.

But this is how it has always been. And we are warned that as our days in this world are numbered, it will only get worse.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 )

Until Christ returns, we are responsible to stand against the evils of our day. (Psalm 94:16) The truth will make some people angry. But the truth will cause others to come to God in repentance. The truth is emotional. The truth demands an answer. The truth cannot be ignored forever. The truth is the truth!

Why am I so adamant about standing against sin? Because Jesus was beaten, humiliated and crucified because of sin! God hates sin. And so I too must hate sin. (Psalms 5:4, Psalms 45:6, Hebrews 1:8)

I know that there are many who wish that I would just tone down my rhetoric. That I would talk more about the good things. I don’t like to talk about bad things, but people need to know the truth. So I must speak the truth!

But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)

So I will not go quietly into the night, I will continue to fight the good fight until my life is done or until Jesus returns.

‘The Week’ website recently published an article by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry entitled, “How Christianity Invented Children”. http://www.theweek.com/articles/551027/how-christianity-invented-children

Gobry claims that one of the notorious practices in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children and points to paganism as the original perpetrator of the sexual exploitation of children. He goes on to say that “Christianity’s invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God.”

But if that is true, then it seems that we have reverted back to the culture of ancient Rome.

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are now sexually abused before age of 18. Child sexual abuse is a prevalent issue in the United States even within the confines of our schools and churches—The very places where our children should be the safest!

Nonetheless, there’s one form that is especially revolting and shocking—The act of sexually molesting a child by a family member. And it often occurs to children in a blended family. Statistics show that a child is 33% more likely to be sexually abused in homes where their biological parent is living with, or married to someone other than the child’s biological parent.

When a child is molested by a family member, denial is a natural response since no one likes to think about a family member abusing their own children this way, but worse yet, is when the child victim is accused of making it up and is pressured into recanting the abuse.

It’s important to remember that although the abuse was done by a close family member, it does not erase criminal liability. In fact, this type of molestation should carry the greatest punishment among all forms of child abuse. If this happens to your child, do not hesitate to call the police, because when a molester is tolerated, it’s guaranteed that he or she will do it again. And you could be charged with child neglect and/or child endangerment.

It is also important to remember the damage this causes to a child’s life and soul. Many victims become depressed, have feelings of guilt, shame and distrust, and may cause them to fall into all kinds of risky behavior. Especially as long as lenient judges continue to pass down soft sentences on perpetrators of these types child sex offenders.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Although it is important to address the issue of forgiveness when the abuser is caught and confesses and then asks for forgiveness, this can be difficult for not only the victim but also for other family members.

Certainly we should forgive; However, it is important to remember that molesting and sexually abusing children is a type of sin that, even after repentance and forgiveness, there has to be accountability and justice to ensure the safety of all children that the abuser could come into contact with.

If someone shoots one of your children you must forgive them—but it doesn’t mean that you invite them back into your home so they can shoot the other ones.

How can you protect your children?

Watch your kids – Keep a watchful eye on your children. Kids get distracted and often don’t think about something that’s happened to them while at play. Know what to look for.

  • Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, or fearfulness
  • Bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed, or other sleep disturbances
  • Acting out inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Changes in toilet-training habits
  • A fear of certain places, people, or activities
  • Bruises, rashes, or poorly explained injuries
  • Pain, itching, bleeding, fluid, or rawness in the private areas

Talk to your kids- Parents are one of the single most effective tools in the fight against child sexual abuse. Set time aside to sit down and have a discussion. This may be an uncomfortable subject, but remember, you aren’t talking about sex, you’re talking about personal safety. You can use other safety issues as a ‘lead in’ to this topic.

Listen to your kids- Even very young children need to be able to tell you their feelings, thoughts and fears. Make sure that you take the time to listen to your children and assure them that you’re there to protect them.

Teach your kids- Teach them about “good touch, bad touch” and make sure your children know to tell you if something does happen, or even if someone just makes them feel uncomfortable. Teach them to trust their own feelings and instincts. Tell them it’s okay to say “no” and to be rude to anyone in order to protect themselves. Teach them that keeping secrets is not only wrong, but dangerous. If you don’t teach these things to your children, then you are leaving them open for the predator to continue molesting your child unrestrained.

Let your child know they can trust you- It is difficult for a child to come forward with accusations of sexual abuse. So the worst thing you can do to a child who has been sexually abused is to question them or doubt that what they experienced really happened. They need to know that you believe them and that you will protect them from further abuse. They came to you because they trusted you. If that trust is broken because you refused to believe them, chances are slim that they will report future abuses that may go on for years.

While physical abuse might be the most visible, child sexual abuse leaves deep, lasting invisible scars that can carry over into adulthood. There are signs you can look out for that a child is being sexually abused:

  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious.
  • Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
  • Trouble walking or sitting.
  • Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age.

Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives, but by learning some of these common warning signs of sexual child abuse, you can catch the problem as early as possible and get both the child and the abuser the help that they need.

Of course, just because you see a warning sign doesn’t automatically mean a child is being abused. It’s important to dig deeper, looking for a pattern of abusive behavior. But if you do notice a pattern, report it.

For more information visit: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect.htm