Thursday, July 12, 2012

HOW CAN THEY BE SO BLIND

How Can They Be So Blind



“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:12. Through the Holy Spirit of God we are given discernment, an ability to grasp the meaning of the scriptures. On the other hand, the spirit of this world keeps many people blinded to the truth. Not the blindness associated with normal eyesight mind you, but rather a blindness that affects the ability to see the things of God. Why do so many allow the god of this world to claim dominion over their lives?



“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth...” 1 Corinthians 2:13. The Holy Spirit that dwells in every born again believer teaches us the things of God. Without the Spirit of God people are unable to learn much about Him or His ways. We believers can do our best to teach the lost and we should, although it’s not through man’s wisdom that they will come to any real understanding of who God is, but through His Holy Spirit.



“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. The world will not receive the teaching of the Holy Spirit unless they first become born again. They will only consider the things of God as foolishness because the things of God are learned through the Spirit of God. That’s why God is so intent on His children learning His word. But the lost, on the other hand, are not in a mode of learning about God or His word. They’re lost and must first be convicted by His Holy Spirit to believe the truth over the enemy’s lies.



Although God loves them, the rest of the world won’t really understand who He is until they come out of their rebellion (remove the blinders). Even though this blindness can be effective in keeping people in darkness it doesn’t have to be final. All of humanity has a choice to make, which is whether or not to stay in the dark (blind) or to open their eyes to the truth.



Satan is, of course, the god of this world. He has placed himself in that position of self-perceived prominence and as such he defends his fallen state with all tenacity. Satan has provided all the lies that convince people to put on the blinders and to keep them on. Although the mentality of the lost world is to go with the flow, join the crowd, and to remain mentality in a state of denial, that tendency to reject the truth can be overcome. In his first epistle the Apostle John speaks of those who have overcome the enemy. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: 1 John 4:4. Everyone can, if they so chose, overcome the enemies lies.



“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” 1 Corinthians 2:15. The natural man cannot spiritually determine God’s will for his life. Furthermore, the natural man can’t really acknowledge the existence of Satan or that of his demonic hoard because he hasn’t been given the ability to judge all things spiritual. Satan and the demons are in a spiritual realm that exists only as fantasy in the minds of most of his blind followers. And yes, the lost are Satan’s followers whether they want to acknowledge that truth or not.



On the other hand, the spiritual man is empowered through God’s Holy Spirit to recognize God’s Kingdom and His glory. We know Satan is no fantasy, we know he exists. We know that our lives are constantly under attack from an invisible but real spiritual world of demonic beings. Through knowing God’s word we learn how to avoid the traps set down by those demonic hoards. Without the Holy Spirit of truth enlightening us and empowering us we too would be as blind as the rest of the lost in this world.



As the natural man lives his life in the enemy’s camp, Satan feeds him more lies so his life is filled with a continual barrage of deception. The longer a person stays in the enemy’s camp the harder it will be to come out and join the saved. Why do these people believe Satan over God? They prefer to. The agnostic will tell you “You can’t prove God exists.” This attitude is simply a denial of the truth.



“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Romans 1:18-20. God has given everyone the ability to see Him through His creation. It’s sad to realize that those who won’t believe are only condemning themselves as they continue in their spiritual blindness.



This blindness that Satan imparts unto the lost is akin to his being their life guide. It’s Satan’s agenda to keep everyone he can in that state of spiritual blindness so they can’t see the light of Christ. With blinders in place, as these folks look at God’s creation they may see a form of beauty but they don’t attribute that beauty to God the Creator, but to Satan the evolutionist. These folks don’t actually attribute evolution to Satan, oh no. The lost believe it was their PhD scientists that discovered this phenomenon not realizing Satan was and still is behind the Darwinian theories of evolution as well as the big bang lie. The blind believe in evolution because that’s what Satan pushes and since he is their spiritual guide they believe him over God.



As long as people reject God our Creator and Savior they must place their hope of the future in the only tangible thing they can come up with. That tangible is a self-reliance attitude which is, simply put, the reliance on one’s self for everything and which is satanic to the core. The lost are wholly reliant on themselves or government for provisions and sustenance. And when they die, they believe that’s the end. Lights out there’s nothing else.



Through spiritual blindness people have assured themselves that there is no Heaven or Hell so there’s no eternal existence after death and thus there’s nothing to be concerned about, live as you want to live. On the other hand some believe in Heaven, but not Hell. With this mindset everyone gets into Heaven no matter what they believe.



Satan is undoubtedly quite proud of his mastery when it comes to convincing the spiritually blind that there are many paths to Heaven. When Satan comes in contact with someone who really feels the need to believe in a god, he will take a different route than with atheist and agnostics. He’ll enlist the help of false teachers of which there are many willing to step in and guide the spiritually blind away from Christ as the one true way to the Father and show them all the different paths which, as we believers all know, lead not to Heaven but to Hell.



Believers know God because it’s His good pleasure that we know Him and that we continue in a loving relationship with Him. He reveals Himself to us, to teach us His ways and to provide for us. He does this through His Holy Spirit. Now that we have the Holy Spirit sealed within us, acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Creator and Redeemer makes perfect sense. But a Redeemer of mankind, a God who would die for His creation is a foolhardy concept indeed to the natural man’s blind belief system. Satan has achieved great success in this arena.



So what must one do to remove the blinders and get out of the clutches of God’s enemy? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Acts 16:31. Pretty simple huh? Yet many will still reject the simplicity of that verse. Blinders attached to the satanic realm can’t be removed any other way. God did not design stumbling blocks into His free gift of salvation. Nor did He make salvation difficult to understand.



Enter Heaven by Jesus Christ or condemn yourself to Hell, there’s no simpler way to put it. There is nothing easier than believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18. That name is Jesus Christ, not Buddha, Allah or his prophet Mohammad, the Virgin Mary, or the New Age god or goddess Maitreya. Or any other fictitious named god or co-redemtrix that lost man can conceive of.



The simplicity of the Gospel of Christ flies in the face of the natural man’s ability to make sound judgments in relation to his blinded mind. I’ve heard those still wearing blinders profess “It just can’t be that simple. There must be more to it.” And so off they go adjusting their blinders as they continue to stumble along in unbelief.



Saying yes to Jesus is not difficult. We make it difficult through our own presuppositions of who God is. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into the knowledge of God, many presume God is in everything and that all one must do is to go out and commune with nature to experience Him. So instead of belief in His only begotten Son, their communing becomes a feel good experience with nothing, or a burning in the bosom as the Mormons put it. This too is another tactic of Satan’s to form fit the lost with the blinders he’s so effectively created. A quote from a brother who recently visited me was so appropriate for this commentary I had to include it here. “Satan will lead you as close as possible to the truth without losing you to salvation.” Amen to that brother.



But God is not a rock or a tree, and what He did to bring eternal salvation to His creation is beyond our full comprehension. What God went through allowing His only begotten Son to die in our stead must have hurt Him horribly. And the excruciating pain that Jesus went through on that cross we can’t even imagine. Jesus knew, before the foundation of the world, that His Father would require the ultimate sacrifice to be carried out. And even though He prayed to His Father that if there was any other way for mankind to be saved that that cup might pass from Him, He knew His Fathers will would be accomplished. “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:41- 42. There is no other way.



“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3 - 4. If folks persist in their rejection of the truth which is rebellion to God even after all that has been explained, then God will allow those who reject Him to have their way. He doesn’t want a bunch of robots and He won’t demand our love. He won’t interfere with an individual’s rejection of Him and that’s the truth.



“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. God loved His creation so much that He made a salvation provision for us, a way out of the most horrible eternity ever imagined. God provided Himself as a sacrifice for all. “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:” Genesis 22:8. And He did, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2. Jesus Christ is the propitiation for all sin. That, my friends, is pure love. Satan, on the other hand, hates all humanity and wants nothing more than to deceive all into holding on to the blinders (lies) he’s promoted throughout time so they can join him in his place of torment for eternity.



Are you one of Satan’s followers still wearing those blinders to your own destruction? If so, you’ve just been enlightened with the only way to avoid that one way ticket to Hell. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Believe that truth and the blinders will fall off immediately. You will see clearly and the Holy Spirit will teach you what you need to know from that point on. “I was blind, but now I see.” You will too.



On the other hand… wait, there is no other hand. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Acts 16:31. Father, how can they be so blind?



God bless you all, and pass it on.



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV





TWEAKING THE SCRIPTURES

“Tweaking the Scriptures”
7/12/2012
 
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16. The phrase “given by inspiration of God” comes from the Greek word “theopneustos”, which actually means God breathed. The above verse is a great verse to memorize as its truth is sure. Still, we must beware of “Tweaking of Scriptures” which occurs frequently these days. The corruption of God’s word is an ongoing, ever increasing, supernatural satanic attack. Even Bible publishers corrupt God’s truth. They’ve now included gender neutral changes as well as eliminating references to the Trinity.
 
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17. Even Eve did a little “Tweaking of Scriptures”. In the following verse we find Eve adding to the commandment God gave Adam. “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Genesis 3:3. Some of Eve’s descendents have perfected the art of “Tweaking the Scriptures” to a science.
 
A good bit of “Tweaking of Scriptures” has been accomplished by men who are intent on eliminating God from His own Creation process (Before I venture any further, let me just say that all “Tweaking” of God’s original inerrant word is satanic). The theory of evolution supplants God’s authority over mankind as well as the rest of His creation. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. This verse doesn’t set well with those who believe in the theory of evolution. Many who profess to be Christian believe in evolution, and since they believe in evolution, in any form, to them God’s word is either filled with errors or God is just a liar.
 
Paintings depicting our Lord Jesus is just another attempts at “Tweaking the scriptures”. Many simply assume these paintings represent a fairly accurate portrayal of His likeness and dismiss the fact that they are only an artist’s point of view. Mankind has no God breathed word that tells us that Jesus ever posed for such a portrait. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself placed prohibition against such things. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above…” Exodus 20:4. For centuries artists have been using their creative prowess to sculpt statues (graven images) of our Lord Jesus which we can now find standing in church courtyards and on tops of mountains around the world. How did the second Commandment become so irrelevant to so many? Sometimes I wonder how many Christians even understand the Ten Commandments. God’s principles never change.   
 
In truth, no one really knows what our Lord looked like. Jesus was visible to multitudes of people as He ministered to the masses and promoted His Kingdom, but there was no way of capturing His portrait nor was there any need. None of those who followed Him thought He would disappear from their presence so quickly. We can’t even imagine how He looked in those days, nor are we supposed to.
 
The Roman Catholic Church has perfected the use of the “graven image” to represent our Lord. They keep Christ’s image on a cross as some sort of remembrance, even though God said not to do so. I’ve often wondered why they keep my Lord on that ugly cross, which was the instrument of His death. It’s His resurrection we celebrate. There is nothing wrong with a cross as representation of a person’s walk with our Lord, but don’t put Jesus back up there. He’s not going to die for His creation again, nor is He dying perpetually – Tetelestai – it’s done, finished.
 
In homes of believers we can find pictures of what is supposed to be the likeness of Messiah Jesus. We even see this in many of the buildings where Christians go to worship our Lord. We’ve all seen pictures or visited the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s representation of God. But considering God’s prohibition, does anyone believe He ordained that particular fresco? Anything Satan can do to corrupt the word of God or to divert humanities attention away from God he’ll do. God says don’t do it – Satan says do. These things may seem trivial to many, but little by little and year after year more of God’s word becomes insignificant as the “Tweaking” continues unabated.
 
When we see Cherubs portrayed as cute little children, most of the time bearing wings, the “Tweaking of Scriptures” continues. They’re painted and sculpted cleverly to resemble a child flying about holding a bow and arrow. Yet the Bible tells us that the Cherub is the highest in the hierarchy of angels. These are the leaders in the supernatural realm of angels. The Garden of Eden was protected by a Cherub. That Cherub wasn’t put there to block Adam or his descendants from entering the Garden, any regular angel could have been assigned that task. He was placed there so Lucifer and his horde of fallen misfits would be unable to re-enter the Garden. Cherubs are fierce. Michael the archangel, the one who does battle with Satan in Heaven and defeats him, is a Cherub as is Lucifer.
 
Another not so obvious attempt at moving people away from the truth of God’s word is this. Almost every time we see angels depicted in the media these days we see them as women. Apart from the blatant disobedience concerning the second Commandment (or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above…) how is it that there are no female angels spoken of in the Scriptures, yet man has created female angels to represent God’s messengers.
 
Angels are always presented in the Scriptures as masculine, never feminine. In the book of Genesis and that of Job we read about the sons of God (bene HaElohiym). “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair…” Genesis 6:2. (The truth of this chapter has also been “Tweaked” by many who prefer to sugarcoat God’s word rather than letting it speak for itself). Bene Ha Elohiym are angels, whether godly or fallen, and always sons never daughters.
 
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them” Job 1:6.” Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD” Job 2:1. “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:7. This last verse tells of the sons of God shouting for joy at the creation. They were with God while He created everything in this universe, and there were no daughters of God mentioned.
 
Another pointed reference to angels only resembling men is “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them;” Genesis 19:1. Now let’s see how the men of Sodom perceived these two angels “…And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” Genesis 19:5. Two angels were sent by God to give safe escort to Lot and his family out of Sodom before its destruction. The two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the surrounding smaller villages, were overrun with homosexuality. The men of Sodom wanted to “know them” (the two angels) which in the Scriptures is a term used of sexual intercourse. Whenever angels appear in the Scriptures they resemble men. That’s why these homosexual men of Sodom saw them as attractive.
 
This leads us to more “Tweaking of Scriptures”, this time coming from those who insist that God has no problem with homosexuality. The opinion that homosexuality is acceptable to God might leave some scratching their head in wonderment as to why He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Obviously the promotion of homosexuality today is widespread. These deceived folks will not stop until this abomination is fully condoned and accepted as normal in every society around the world. And lest we forget, homosexuality was unashamedly accepted in Lot’s day also. The practice of homosexuality was so repugnant to our perfect God that He destroyed, not only Sodom and Gomorrah, but all the surrounding cities involved in this abomination. We can look back into the history of numerous civilizations and find the reason for their collapse being the pervasiveness of homosexuality. America cannot be far behind. God’s principles never change – yet the “Tweaking of Scripture” continues.
 
The Bible has been “Tweaked” to the point that it is seen today as only a fairytale, which of course means anything goes. “…Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” 1 Corinthians 5:6. Throughout the Scriptures leaven is representative of sin, and in each of these cases just presented, we see the never ending “Tweaking of the Scriptures” spreading like leaven.
 
Everyone has seen the caricatures in Sunday school class of Noah’s Ark. They are usually presented as a funny, distorted looking little boat with its cargo of animals sticking out from all angles, most prominent is usually the head and neck of the giraffe protruding from the very top of the boat. These are used to teach the little children about the flood of Noah. But they are so destructive in their erroneous presentation. The sin that is covered up these days by Bible teachers who continue to point to these ridiculous characters was so egregious to God that He was forced to destroy the whole world. When the word of God is watered down and “Tweaked” even fairytales become more believable. 
 
These are but a few things that get distorted over time and diminish the validity of the Bible. But there are many more instances of “Tweaking”, and more importantly there is a purpose to all this corruption and deceptiveness. Satan wants nothing more than to convince humanity that the Word of God should be seen as ridiculous, or at the very least insignificant to mankind. With the promotion of the above examples as truth many have begun to shun the Bible seeing it now only as myth or filled with fables. Satan is succeeding in his attempt to discredit God’s word and he has taken his deception one step further.
 
How do most human beings perceive Satan himself? Do we see him as real or fiction? Is he seen as the most significant evil threat to all humanity, or is he seen merely as a fictional cartoon character?
 
What Satan has been able to accomplish over the years is to provide for himself a surrogate personage, a phony devil if you will, to stand in his place until he is ready to reveal himself to mankind. The surrogate has a very different look and demeanor. Satan obfuscates the truth by inventing a cartoon character to represent himself, thus nullifying his existence. Satan is viewed by many today as a fictional dastardly red dude with funny little horns, a pointed tail, holding a pitchfork, and standing among a sea of flames. But the real Satan - and he is real - will soon present himself to mankind in a very different light.
 
By studying the Scriptures we’re shown a different side of Satan and brought to a very different conclusion concerning the number one nemesis of God and man. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8. As long as people see Satan as nothing more than a fictional cartoon character he’ll continue to build a following of deceived individuals. While devouring souls, Satan will continue his relentless attacks on God’s Holy Scriptures with his attempts at changing them into nothing more than fairytales.
 
There is much more “Tweaking the Scriptures” occurring than what I’ve been able to include in this commentary. Sometimes Christians can be their own worst enemy, believing what feels good about the Scriptures and dismissing what doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7.
 
God bless you all,
 
Ron Graham
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed
 
Please continue your prayers for my health.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

REPENT

Repent
7/5/2012
 
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15. Did Jesus tell any of His disciples to go out into the word and get people to repent first as a prerequisite for salvation? No. He was very clear when He spoke of the “one” requirement for salvation. He that believeth… shall be saved…believeth not…damned. Salvation is predicated on our belief in Christ, not on repentance.
 
In the following verse we find a multitude of people following Jesus who were very much works orientated when it came to their understanding of how to please God. They questioned Jesus as to what they had to do in the way of works to be accepted by God. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29. Believe on Him who God sent. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. There can be no doubt that salvation is afforded those who believe in the only begotten Son of God. Condemnation is upon all who refuse this simple precondition. 
 
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:38. This verse is constantly misapplied as a prerequisite for salvation. If this verse is saying what so many believe it to say then we’ve got some pretty heavy duty contradictions in our Bible. If this verse is not saying “We must repent first in order to be saved” then what was the Apostle Peter talking about?
 
The Greek word “pisteuō” is translated into English as believe. The simple definition is “to think on something as true”. Thinking on something as true and being sorry for our sins are two very different concepts.
 
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3b. Nicodemus had come to Jesus asking about salvation. Jesus never mentioned to Nicodemus anything even closely resembling repentance as a precondition to becoming born again. In the following verses, though, we are given the precise answer to the question that Nicodemus was seeking.
 
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18. If God meant for repentance to be a precondition of the heart in order to be saved, then all Scripture verses regarding salvation would contain a clear reference to repentance. Interestingly, the words repent or repentance are never included as a condition of our heart prior to salvation. Once we become born again is when our hearts should be overwhelmed with an attitude of gratitude as well as remorse because of how we lived prior to our new life in Christ.
 
“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed …For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:11, 13. Paul preached that salvation came by believing; he never preached that one needed to repent first of their sins then call (believe) on the name of the Lord to be saved.
 
So, what does repent mean? The Greek word is “metanoeō” and it simply refers to a change of mind. It takes a change of mind to understand who Jesus is and what He did for all humankind. People must first experience a change of mind to even consider God’s truth. Let’s consider this question that Jesus put to His disciples. “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:15. This is the same question each of us is confronted with at some point in this life. If we respond as Peter “…Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” Matthew 16:16, then we, too, believe the truth about Jesus. Peter’s answer is what he believed. But whom say ye that I am? Now Jesus is asking this same question of you and me. If our response is as Peter’s, then we too have said yes to our Messiah (we believe). Jesus says this is all there is for any person to move from that horrible position of condemnation to eternal life with Him.
 
Believing is always the key when we speak of salvation. When we change our minds about Jesus Christ and believe in Him, who He is and what He’s done, we’ve come to a decision, a life changing right decision. The very same choice everyone on earth must face before being allowed entrance into Heaven. Sadly, many will remain steadfast in a mindset that fully rejects their Messiah Jesus.
 
When we look into a modern dictionary we find the following meanings for our English word “repent”: regret, be sorry, apologize, ask for forgiveness, feel sorrow, be penitent, atone, be remorseful. None of these terms can be associated with the Greek word “metanoeō”. In the Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word “metanoeō” (Strong’s G3340) is translated into English as “repent”. Throughout the New Testament scriptures, “repent” or “metanoeō” is repeated 22 times and “repentance” (Strong's G3341), is repeated another 25 times, yet they both mean the same thing, that of having a “change of mind”. Any time we read the word “repent” associated with belief, the premise is to initiate a change of mind first about God, and believe in His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. The Greek word “metanoeō” does not mean to be sorrowful or regretful.
 
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36. We need to dig a little deeper into the context of this chapter of Acts to find the reason behind Peter’s use of the word “metanoeō” (repent) in Acts chapter 2 verse 38. Peter’s short dissertation in this chapter brought about some great results. As he spoke to his countrymen (fellow Jews) about who Jesus was and their offence against their Messiah, Peter’s words had an immediate effect as they tugged at the heart strings of his countrymen who were gathered around him.
 
Then immediately afterward they had a question for Peter “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37. Being pricked in the heart indicates a condition of sorrowfulness, and of regret. Had they changed their minds about our Lord Jesus Christ at this point? Since they were already expressing sorrow, why would Peter tell them to be more sorrowful? He wouldn’t. Peter’s response to their question (what shall we do) was that now, since they’ve been pricked in the heart (sorrowful, regretful) concerning what they did to their Messiah, they needed to change their minds about who Jesus truly is. Changing one’s mind about Jesus, from being in opposition to Him to being in affirmation of Him, is tantamount to believing in Him.
 
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:38.  After Peter’s countrymen experienced what many would consider the sorrow of a lifetime and they asked their one question (what now?), they were ready to have a change of mind and become followers of the One true Messiah; all that remained for them to do was believe. In this case, since Peter was already speaking to men who believed in God and His Precepts, all they needed to do was change their minds about Jesus Christ as their One true God and Saviour. Once they believed they were instantaneously born again. Then Peter told them to be baptized in the name of the one who they had just changed their minds about.
 
Side note:
There is some controversy concerning the phrase in the above verse “for the remission of sins”. The Greek word “eis” is translated “for” in English, but in the context of this verse it is meant to be read as “insomuch as”. The verse should be read thusly, insomuch as your sins have been forgiven you, be baptized. It’s the same as saying “now that you are born again the first act of obedience to God is to be baptized”. Baptism is not a part of being born again. If this were the case then everywhere in the Scriptures where we are told to believe in Jesus to be saved, the phrase “and be baptized for the remission of sins” would be included. But it is not so.
 
Erroneous doctrines become established and embedded as biblical when we fail to understand the context of the verse or verses in question. The translators used the word “repent” instead of using the phrase “change of mind” and the rest is history. When we neglect to seek the correct meaning in regards to the scriptures all sorts of problems can and do arise. I’ve seen numerous commentaries that conclude by telling their readers that if they don’t know Jesus then all they need to do is “repent” and tell Him  that they are sorry for their sins and to accept Him into their lives. This teaching is so unbiblical it should raise the hair on the back of your necks. We are never told to apologize to Christ for our sins in order to receive everlasting life – only to believe.
 
Many websites, commentaries, street preachers, and even pastors standing in front of their congregations seem to be stuck on this same premise as they give the altar call to those who are lost. “Repent of your sins and thou shalt be saved”. Is that what Paul told the jailer when that man asked what he must do to be saved? No. Paul made it plain that salvation comes by believing on the one who was sent by God to take the sin of the world upon Himself. “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” Acts 16:31b. Repentance is nowhere to be found in that verse.
 
Telling people to repent to be saved is folly. Most people today have no idea that they are sinners or what sin really is. Most will tell you they are good people. People tend to balk when told they are sinners; it becomes as a stumbling block in their minds. At this point many will simply walk away from the well meaning evangelists while remaining – lost. If we tell them to tell Jesus they are sorry when they don’t even know who Jesus is will, in most cases, send them fleeing from us. They must first make a change of mind about who Christ is and this is better accomplished by following Paul’s example with the Athenians of Mars’ Hill, going back to the beginning to the creation and the fall of mankind. Then when the Gospel is explained to them they will understand the lost and rebellious state they are in, and that without believing in Christ there can be no salvation.  
 
God bless you all,
 
Ron Graham
 
Somehow my email address was inadvertently removed from many of my past commentaries. I am sorry for this inconvenience. I will be more careful in the future. Please feel free to comment on any of my past commentaries. As always your questions are encouraged.
 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A PECULIAR PEOPLE

A Peculiar People
6/28/2012
 
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:13-14. Messiah Jesus has purified and taken unto Himself those who have said yes to Him – a “peculiar” people. The Greek word translated into English as peculiar is “periousios”, which in today’s vernacular means “possession”. So as Jesus purifies unto Himself a “peculiar people” He’s actually taking them as His possession; they are His. In other words we who have been redeemed are God’s possession, His “peculiar people”.
 
Since God communicates with His children through His word should we consider any portion of His word as insignificant or of having no bearing on the lives of His “peculiar people” today? Certainly not. We learn how to live our lives and interact with others through His Word. When we read verses that seem to be specifically speaking to Israel (His chosen people) in many cases the application can be viewed as a parallel to that of God’s “peculiar people” today. From the very first page of the book of Genesis to the last page of the book of Revelation God’s principles never change.
 
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14. This verse is used by many who wish to invoke God’s providence on a nation that for all intents and purposes has turned its back on Him. Some Bible teachers and theologians dismiss this particular verse as irrelevant since they believe it was meant solely for the Nation of Israel. In truth the principle of this verse is universal. 
 
“If my people which are called by my name”. Jesus is the Christ, in the Greek this word is “Christos” and it has the same meaning as the Hebrew word “mashiyach”, which is translated into English as Messiah. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words mean Jesus is the anointed One. God entered His creation and became a man, the man Jesus Christ. He did this so mankind, who had been separated from Him because of rebellion, could be reconciled to Him. Those who believe in Him are referred to as Christians; which comes from the word Christ. His “peculiar people” have always been called by the Title placed upon Him.
 
Throughout the Old and New Testaments our God is One God. Jesus is God and we, His “peculiar people”, are His whether we be Jew or Gentile. When God initially spoke the words “If my people which are called by my name” He was speaking of the Nation of Israel. Today we can view those words as being just as relevant to us, His “peculiar people”, as John 3:16.
 
“Shall humble themselves”. God’s desire for His children is to be humble of heart. We are not to be abusive, rude, cruel, or arrogant toward our fellow man. As we walk about as ambassadors of the King of kings we put on Christ and walk in the spirit of love just as He walked. At least that’s the idea. There are numerous distinguishing aspects to the Christian life, but it seems humbleness could use some extra attention.
 
“And pray”. When it comes to our communication with our Creator, the essential ingredient is prayer. Prayer is continually promoted throughout both the writings of the Old Testament and New. Christ’s Ekklesia is admonished to be in constant prayer. Prayer is our way of communicating our thoughts and our desires to God in a very personal way. But corporately we can all be participants in a prayer that resonates across the land in which we sojourn. “When my people will humble themselves and pray…I will hear from Heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.” God wants to be involved in our lives, especially when our lives reflect His glory. This world is not my home, but until I get to my eternal home I must make the best of the place in which I sojourn. I don’t know about the rest of you, but invoking God’s help in that regard seems prudent to me.
 
“And seek my face”. This part of that particular verse from second Chronicles is the most important part in regards to just how much we desire to grow in the Lord. Seeking God’s face is foundational in our walk with Christ. Here’s a little test; how much of your time, or better yet how much of your most “valuable” time, is spent concentrating on your God and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Where is God in your daily routine? Do you have a priority list of the most important people, places, and things embedded in your mind? Is God simply a floater, never knowing exactly where He fits in on that list? In these days of hustle and bustle it seems many Christians have notched God down on their priority list, in fact so far down that He’s no longer visibly on that list. When we become His possession He no longer stands at the door of our heart and knocks; He takes possession of what has become His and dwells within our hearts.
 
If you’ve ever heard the expression “I’m not a practicing Christian” you’ve heard someone admit they want nothing to do with God. God knows the heart of every man, woman, and child, He knows who loves Him and who doesn’t. God knows His possessions better than we know ourselves. He knows if we are truly concerned with continually drawing closer to Him, or whether we are simply giving Him lip service. God would surely love for His children, His possession, His people to want Him as much as He wants them. “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me:” Psalm 40:17a. What the psalmist is saying is that the Lord is always mindful of us, He esteems us, and He regards us as His own possession. Should we not be just as mindful of Him?
 
“And turn from their evil ways”. If God’s “peculiar people” who are His possession, will humble themselves, pray, and seek His face, and turn from their evil ways. Whose evil ways? Yes my brethren, when we view this passage as being relevant to our own lives, we realize that God is not addressing the lost. It’s our evil ways from which He wants us to turn. These God breathed words were given to call His people, the Nation of Israel, back to national repentance. Even though Israel rejected God’s call to return to Him, there is no reason to think that God abandoned this concept. By all means God is calling His “peculiar people” back to national repentance. Just like the Nation of Israel, His “peculiar people” (Christians) today have gone astray.
 
Since we are assured our God never changes, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8, why are some folks opposed to Him declaring the same promise (2 Chronicles 7:14) to His “peculiar people” just as He declared to His people (Israel) over 2,500 years ago? God gave the Nation of Israel the land in which they were to dwell. His “peculiar people” of today sojourn not just on one particular piece of real estate but globally. In America, a land that initially was sought as a refuge, a place where Christians could be free from the tyrannies of other nations, kingdoms, and the erroneous doctrines of the Church of England and Rome, we can see God’s mighty hand being the catalyst that brought the pilgrims to America. As America falls farther into the abyss of immorality 2 Chronicles 7:14 becomes more and more relevant.
 
Even in a land that parallels that of the land of Israel with a similar stiff-necked people who have turned their backs on their Creator, God is still working. He’s calling His “peculiar people” back to Him when they stray. In regards to America which claims the majority of her inhabitants are Christians, God’s calling His possession back to a national repentance. But God won’t wait forever, and while we are in a state of godlessness He may send judgments upon this nation in order to get our attention. Some of the catastrophic events of America’s past history may well have been meant as attention grabbers.
 
God’s “peculiar people” today are called to action – zealous of good works. At its inception, America was established on God’s inerrant word and was subsequently dedicated to God. Over the years since the Pilgrims came to this land America has, as a nation, turned her national corporate back on God. If indeed God’s “peculiar people” are plentiful in this land we must be the ones to initiate the return to Him.
 
Will His “peculiar people” come into corporate national repentance anytime soon? Doubtful. For the most part corporate and political America want nothing to do with God, and many of His “peculiar people” have prostrated themselves to the god of this world. “At this particular time in history it’s God’s children who are standing in the way of what God would prefer to do with America.” – Chuck Missler.
 
God’s redeemed must first turn from their wicked ways. As believers in Christ, we must stop embracing all the foolishness, and sinfulness of this world and turn away from the wickedness now permeating our land. The humanistic worldview is not for Christians. This foolish embracing includes compromising our faith, blatant apathy which has infected much of the Ekklesia of Christ, and of course the trap of biblical ignorance that so many Christians fall into these days. We must grasp God’s doctrines with renewed zealousness, and promote Him and His doctrines as though our lives depended on it, because in truth our lives are dependent on Him, we are His possession. We must shun this new attitude of political correctness, and when it comes to compromising the Word given to us by our Creator we should form an impregnable block wall in the face of those who would have us fall in line with their evil ways.
 
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Revelation 3:17. This verse addresses the Ekklesia at Laodicea but it fits well in describing the current trend of the Ekklesia in America today. For many years now Christians in America have stood idly by as this nation as a whole has continually appeased the evil one. Over and over again we have chosen the “least” of the evils that are continually presented to us for our national acceptance, when in fact we should never have chosen even one evil over another. We should have been resolute in our faith, always standing strong acknowledging and promoting God’s ways as the only choice. If you’re looking for someone to blame for the current state of affairs in America today, look to the compromising, the complacent, the silent Ekklesia.
 
God promised to heal the land of Israel – He will heal any land where the populous corporately turns from their wicked ways and seeks the face of their Creator. This truth is evident when we read that God turned from His wrath against Nineveh, a Gentile nation established by Nimrod. When Jonah showed up at their doorstep and proclaimed “forty days and your toast” (I’m paraphrasing of course) that generation of Ninevites corporately repented and was spared God’s judgment. Can this happen in America? Absolutely. Will it? Not unless and until we who are God’s “peculiar people” (Christians) realize we must be the instigators.
 
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. God cleanses us because He is faithful and just. We can count on God’s faithfulness. Seeing how far America has digressed as a Nation (having been founded on biblical morals) and how some 85 percent of her populous currently stake claim to being in that category of His “peculiar people”, it’s obvious He can’t count on ours.  “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?Luke 18:8b. Good question.
 
God bless you all,
 
Ron Graham
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed
 
My eyes are still giving me fits, please continue to pray for me. Your prayers  are greatly appreciated.  Thank you my dear brethren, God bless