Still More on Belief

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 4:10 PM [General]

    Many people do not want to believe what the Bible teaches.  They want to believe that the Bible teaches what they want to believe.  So if I (or anyone else) teaches the Bible, how do people know if I am really teaching the Bible, or if I am teaching that the Bible says what I want to believe?  This is why it is so important that people ‘search the Scriptures to see what things are so’ (Acts 17: 11).  This is why so often I copy and paste the Scriptures in my posts.  This is why I say don’t believe in me (or any other man), but search and find within yourself what is the true teachings of our Creator.

    If I went to the biggest church in the biggest city and said, “Oh, that’s a fine preacher; those are fine people.  I believe in that preacher; I believe in that church; and I believe in that Bible they teach,” that would not make me a Christian.  It may be a fine church and the preacher may be a fine Christian, but believing all of that because I believe in them is not what makes a person a Christian.  It would have to be my personal belief in the Lord Jesus that the church teaches, and my believing the teachings of the Scriptures that the church teaches that would be the basis for my own personal faith.  What good would it do for me to say that I believe in Jesus, if I didn’t even study the teachings of Jesus?  What good would it do for me to say that I believe in the Scriptures, if I do not even study the Bible?  So exactly what is it that I really believe?

    Understanding this is important.  Do you know what you believe and why you believe it?  Have you searched the Scriptures to see what things are so?  Understanding this is part of what Paul was speaking of when he said that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12).  It is not ‘working’ to be saved, but ‘working it out in your understanding of your faith.  For himself, he said that he knew whom he believed (2nd Timothy 1: 12).  The other part of ‘working out your salvation’ is in following Christ’s commandment to love, and knowing that love seeks to serve one another.  This is the life of good works which our Father has prepared for us (Ephesians 2: 10).

    So have you simply believed what you’ve been taught, or have you considered why you believe what you believe to be true?  Most churches encourage independent Bible study.  Look for materials to learn from.  Some churches tell you to believe only what they teach you.  They are not teaching you to find for yourself what to believe, but they are telling you what to believe.  Do not believe in them.  Some churches teach to use only this teaching or this doctrine or only what our ‘inspired’ leaders teach us.  For a long time the Catholic church did not even allow people to have the Scriptures in their common language.  Jehovah’s Witnesses tell people to only use their version of the Bible.  Mormons say you can use the Bible, but you can only interpret it by the filter of (or inspiration from) the Book of Mormon.  Do not buy into any cult that teaches you to use only their approved doctrines, because you should search the Scriptures for yourself to see what you believe, not what someone else believes.  It is always fine to study other beliefs to compare them to what the Scriptures teach and to be guided by the Holy Spirit into what is the truth.  If you truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and truly search with a believing in Jesus and the Scriptures heart, then the Holy Spirit will guide you into truth.  It may be a difficult and gut wrenching experience.  Satan is clever in hiding lies in the middle of truths.  But if you believe in the Bible, then search diligently for the lies of this world to be filtered from the truth of the Biblical teachings.

    I’m fast becoming an old man.  My memory of many of my teachings are not as sharp as they once were.  Admittedly my understanding is not now, nor has it ever been perfect.  But the Spirit will guide you into such understanding as you need to perform God’s will for your life.  That does not mean that the people of this world (those who have not become the children of God through the blood of Jesus) will accept Scriptural truths.  That is why the people of this world persecute Christians.

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    More on Belief

    Monday, April 13, 2015, 5:31 PM [General]

    Many people don’t want to hear the whole truth.  They don’t care to read the ‘whole’ Bible to see what is beyond the flowery memory verses and quotes.  They don’t study the side of history that makes things look ‘bad’ for anyone they think is on their side.  As Catholics grew in Europe, they sought more involvement by turning pagan religious holidays into ‘Christian’ holidays.  When Mexico and South America was being looted for gold, and native people killed, the soldiers doing the looting and killing had the church’s blessings because it was getting good money from the conquistadores.  When people came to the US seeking religious freedom, that religious freedom displaced natives, ultimately leading to wars where many natives were massacred.

    There may be a lot of people who seem to be fine, upstanding people who call themselves Christians, but that does not mean they fully understand what Christianity means.  There may be a lot of people who seem to be fine, upstanding people who call themselves Catholics, but that does not mean they fully understand what the teachings of their faith truly mean.  There may be a lot of people who seem to be fine, upstanding people who call themselves Muslims, but that does not mean they fully understand all the teachings of their faith.  The same applies to Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Followers of B’hai, or any other teaching.  People sometimes have such a strong sense of identifying with something that ‘sounds’ good to them, that they want to be called by that name, even if they don’t really understand it.

    This is why it is so important for people to carefully study (as in ‘study to show yourself approved’ as Paul told Timothy) what they believe to be true.  I believe that there will be no one who will find eternal rest without a heart that searches for his/her Creator with all his heart (Jeremiah 29: 13).  But I believe that no one will find our Creator (whether He is called God, Elohiym, Yahweh, or Allah), except through our Lord (Adonai) Jesus (Yahshuah) Christ (Mashiach), and that a search for the TRUTH with the whole heart will lead to Him (Jesus), because He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Great I AM.

    For people who like labels, then I may call myself a Baptist (though there are several varieties of Baptists), with inclinations toward the Assemblies of God.  In the Baptist realm I would put my inclinations toward the Southern Baptists.  But I do not believe that denominations or sects is the answer to any of this.  I do not believe that all ‘Southern Baptists’ are going to be in Heaven.  I do not believe that all of any denomination or sect will be there.  I believe that many from faiths that I do not support will be in Heaven.  Only the Lord sees deep into people’s hearts.  The Lord knows all the teachings (true or false) that people have been exposed to, and sometimes deceived by.  But the Lord knows who in his/her deepest heart is truly searching for Him and for His TRUTH.  In that search, I believe that many will meet Jesus, even if it is in that last moment of this earthly life transition to earthly death.

    Even so- whatever faith, denomination, or sect you identify with, please consider that search for the TRUTH in our Creator.  Seeking Him indicates a belief (for why would one search for someone they didn’t believe in?) and in that belief (faith) ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  (I hope I’m making sense here.  I do not want to mislead anyone, but I am not perfect, and each person’s search is his/her own search.)

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    What Do We Believe?

    Sunday, April 12, 2015, 8:33 PM [General]

    It is one thing to say that you believe something.  Sometimes it can be quite another to explain what you believe and why you believe it.  Do you ever consider why you believe what you believe?  This is why the Bible emphasizes Bible study.  It is not so much a matter of agreeing on every detail of what is meant, so much as it is that personal search within a person’s heart to truly know His Savior.  This of course is meant for those who profess believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Another thing many people don’t consider is what do I do once I know the Lord and study the Bible and pray?  Several things come to mind that Jesus told His disciples.  When they asked what they must do to do the works of God, He told them the works were to believe in Him.  Now does that sound like, “Okay, I believe Him, so that’s it!”?  You have to consider what ‘believe’ really means.  Jesus was a Jew and speaking to Jewish disciples.  This term ‘believe’ has somehow lost much of the meaning it once had.  Believing in that Hebrew sense means that you believe all He taught, and in that belief, you seek to follow His teaching.  Do you seek to understand His teachings?

    To say that you have been saved by the blood of Jesus, do you know what that means?  If you have been ‘saved’, then what have you been ‘saved’ from?  Some may say (and I’m sure I have often mistakenly said) that you are ‘saved’ from your sins.  (As I say, I am guilty too.  I’ve heard more than one preacher point out that if he points one finger at you, he has four others that are pointed back at himself.  Something to meditate on.)  Actually, what you are saved from is the ‘penalty’ (the price; the cost; the final judgment) of your sins.  Besides that, do you realize that to be saved, you first have to recognize your ‘need’ to be saved.  If you didn’t think that you ‘needed’ to be saved, then why would you seek to be saved?  So do you truly recognize yourself to be a sinner in need of God’s saving mercy and grace?  Do you believe that Jesus came and died to take the judgment that you should have received?

    Then the works that He requires it that you believe in Him, Who He is and all that He taught.  He taught that the primary commandment we were to follow was to LOVE.  He taught that in love we were to treat others as we would wish others to treat us.  Do you believe His teaching that we are to not only love our friends, but to love our enemies as well?  We are supposed to treat our enemies as we would wish our enemies to treat us.  Why?  Because we were enemies of God (by living in sin contrary to His will) and He loved us enough to die for us.  If He loves us so much, surely we should also love others.  As Jesus taught, loving your friends and comrades is nothing special, because even those who don’t know Him do that.  But just as His love for us is so powerful that He died for us, He also loves those who don’t know Him, and want them to come to know His love as well.  He wants us to share that love with those who don’t know Him.  That is why He said that we were to go into the world teaching all people, even our enemies.

    So the big question is, do we really believe in Jesus enough to do as He taught us.  For myself, I must admit that I fail in so many ways.  It’s amazing to consider that He continues His love for me, in spite of the failure that I am.

    But different people believe different things.  How do we approach the situation where others are teaching teachings that are contrary to the true Gospel of the Scriptures?  First we are to be polite, and love them, as we were taught to love.  Then we are to share our beliefs (which should include why we believe what we believe) to seek to better understand our own beliefs and to help them better understand the true teachings.  This is what Paul meant when he told Timothy to be instant (ever-ready) in any season (under any circumstances) to present your case for the true Gospel of Christ.  Each of us must examine ourselves to consider if we do search the Scriptures to better understand our mission (Jesus’ teaching) that we are to reach out to a lost world.  If we truly love, then do we wish to see others that we love going to the eternal judgment that Jesus warned us about?


    [The rest of this material is primarily for any who may question who I am to be teaching as I teach.  Should you not be interested, no problem, this is just for those who may be interested in knowing my basis for my beliefs.  I do not wish to present a notion that my belief system is perfect.  That is why I say, do not believe in me or my teachings, but search the Scriptures for yourself to see what is so.  I am 62 years old (for experience sake).  Since I was in high school, in church we were taught the importance of being mission minded.  Though I don’t remember all the teachings from that time, I do remember that we were taught the teachings of other faiths and denominations, so that we could compare them to the Scriptures and see why we believed as we did and could better explain our beliefs to those of other faiths or denominations.  Though I may not remember all of those teachings, they did form a foundation that was built on over the years.  Over the years I have taught missions to young men in various churches.  I have taught Bible lessons for many years.  I have read many books about many phases of Biblical teachings and Christian thoughts.  I have read many books on different faiths and denominations and considered their teachings and compared them to my understanding of the Scriptures.  I have also read books about missions, missionaries, their lives and approaches to the mission field.  I have had many conversations (many of those in private) with people of different faiths and denominations.  For those who do not choose to accept my teachings, or may feel that I am not qualified to teach, be that as it may.  As I say- I do not ask you to believe in me- but to search the Scriptures for yourself to see what you find to be true.  It is only what you believe that will affect your life, not what I believe.  I appreciate that some may consider my feeble thoughts to be worthy of consideration.]

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    Daniel's Prophecies

    Saturday, April 11, 2015, 1:54 PM [General]

    Some people don’t realize how much Daniel prophesied about things that would shortly come to pass.  Many don’t realize the Bible makes mention of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.  Before the Greeks came into power, Daniel prophesied that “… the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north …” (cited below in verse 6).  The passage from Daniel chapters 11 through chapters 12 tell much of what will happen after Daniel’s life up to the coming of Jesus in the Gospels.  Then near the end of chapter 11 he discusses some of the period of the ‘end times’ spoken of that are fast approaching.

    Daniel 11:5 "Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority.  6 After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement.  But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported her in those times.

    31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering.  And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.  32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.

    Verse 31 above has a dual implication.  Daniel speaks of one profaning the temple in a way that is called ‘the abomination of desolation of the temple’.  Antiochus Epiphanes, a successor to Alexander the Great, came to Jerusalem and placed a foreign god in Yahweh’s Temple that had been rebuilt during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.  He also forced the Jews to eat pork, which was strictly prohibited by Jewish law.  This set off the period known as the Maccabean period before the time of Christ, during which many Jews revolted against the condescending of the Jews to the Greco/Roman culture.  There is also another ‘abomination which causes desolation’ to occur during the last days when the Anti-Christ breaks his covenant with Israel.  (Remember- Anti-Christ is used in two senses: there are the ‘anti-Christs’ who are those who were in the early church, and have multiplied and are still in large numbers in what we call the ‘church’ today; and that Anti-Christ who will lead the nations against Israel in the last days.  Anti-Christ as a term means ‘against Christ’.)

    Daniel 11:36 "And the king shall do as he wills.  He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods.  He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.  37 He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women.  He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all.

    12:1 "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people.  And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.  But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.  2 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.

    9 He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.

    People need to take special note of the signs of the times, because the end is truly very near.  Please come to Jesus with a repentant, humble, and believing heart so that you may be one of those who awake to everlasting life with our Heavenly Father, rather than one of those who come before the judgment to go into everlasting shame and contempt.  Jesus taught that those who went to everlasting contempt would suffer everlasting torments.

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    What Do People Want to Hear?

    Friday, April 10, 2015, 7:55 PM [General]

    I’ve said a lot about false prophets, but one good question is, “How do false prophets become so popular?”  Because people do not want to hear the absolute truth.  People want to buy into that basic lie that all people have a basic goodness deep inside them.  They say get in touch with your deeper self.  Now seriously- if all people have a basic good deep inside them, then why is there so much evil in the world?  Why are there so many wars?  Why are there so many burglaries, murders, rapes, and on and on?  But people do not want to own up to the truth that there is a basic inner most nature in man that seeks to rebel against God’s law.

    So why are people so quick to listen to false prophets?  Because as the Bible says (2nd Timothy 4: 3) people with itchy ears want to hear what they want to hear and will heap up teachers to themselves who teach them what they want to hear.  So teachers will talk about how people are basically good deep down inside, even though you can look around the world and see so much destruction.  People will heap up teachers who talk about how loving and merciful God is, but not how wicked man is and how much man is in need confessing sin, turning to the Savior, and of seeking to live by God’s law.  People spend more time talking about how much people need to love themselves, and not enough to teach that loving others means putting one’s self to the side for the sake of others.

    Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

    Ezekiel 33:30 "As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, 'Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.'  31 And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain.  32 And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.  33 When this comes—and come it will!—then they will know that a prophet has been among them."

    Yes, people love to talk about love, but they are quick to go on and seek out their own desires.  Their genuine love for others grows cold, as they seek their own self-love (Romans 12: 3; 1st Corinthians 13: 4; 2nd Timothy 3: 2).  People will heap up teachers who talk with flowery speeches about love, but they still love themselves and seek their own interpretations of love and their own ideas about what love means and who to love and their own selfish desires.

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