Tag Archives: God

Giants

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)

My wife just rolls her eyes when I tune the TV to Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. “Why do you watch that junk?” is her common refrain. Well, except for their godless frame of reference, there is actually a certain amount of truth behind much of what they have to say. After all, every good lie carries a certain element of truth. According to the “ancient alien theorists” (AATs), aliens were on the earth long ago and taught evolving humans their technology in order to help the human race evolve. The humans in turn often worshipped them as gods. These ancient aliens also built the monumental megaliths that we see all over the world, like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and others.

There exists in the Evangelical community a somewhat fringe element along the line of these AATs. The likes of L.A. Marzulli, Steve Quayle, and Timothy Alberino appear as frequent guests on end-time prophecy shows on the internet like Prophecy Watchers, Prophecy in the News, SkyWatch TV, and others. I say “fringe” because most Christian Evangelicals are either unaware or ambivalent of the subject of the pre-Flood Nephilim, even as it pertains to end-time prophecy. Like the AATs, these Christian “giant” chasers believe that, before the Global Flood (Genesis 6-9), giants existed on earth. However, they originate from God, as alluded to in Genesis 6:1-4, rather than being from other parts of the universe. The ancient aliens, therefore, are fallen angels (demons) that succeeded in corrupting the human race and causing God to rain judgment down upon all the earth.[1] Only Noah and his family were pure enough in their genetic makeup to be saved from the wrath of God.

“There were giants [Nephilim] in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4).

“Nephilim,” comes from the Hebrew nephı̂yl, meaning “a feller, a bully, or a tyrant.” It comes from the root word nâphal, a verb meaning, “to fall.” They were the products of unsanctioned unions between “the sons of God” (bene elohim, i.e., (fallen) angels) and the “daughters of men” – human women.[2] How these fallen angels were able to mate with human women, we do not know or understand. Jesus said, “For in the resurrection they [i.e. humans] neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). According to this, angels cannot breed, nor do they breed. Perhaps these demons were doing DNA manipulation on these women to produce the Nephilim. Maybe they took possession of human men who were able to copulate with human women and thereby alter their DNA. We simply do not know, and God did not provide that detail in His Word. When questions like this come up, we must remember, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

It is interesting to note what Jesus said: “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26). Modern scientists are doing gene manipulation[3] with the pretense of eradicating heritable diseases.  They are also boasting that they can create “designer babies.”[4] There is talk of creating “super soldiers”[5] through genetic engineering. Of course, in the US, these kinds of experiments are highly regulated and restricted, but other countries do not share our ethics. Hitler had his scientists working on creating a super race. Therefore, the return of Nephilim “after” (Genesis 6:4) is not so farfetched, especially with our rapidly growing and unchecked technological advancements.

I have no real problem with those who chase after “giants;” that is fine, I suppose. Our Lord’s return is close at hand. We should focus more on the certainty and imminence of His second coming rather than on pre-flood giants. In His statement on the days of Noah, Jesus also said that “They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27). In other words, they were so distracted with the mundane things of life that when the flood came, they were not expecting it. This is how I feel about all this preoccupation with giants, Nephilim, aliens, UFOs, etc. These things, while interesting, are a distraction from the main event that is just around the corner. We should focus more on the Lord’s return and do all we can, like Noah, to warn others of what is ahead in order to save as many as possible from the wrath of God that will surely come on an unbelieving world. The Nephilim will return, but I do not expect to be here when they show up![6]

Notes:


[1]  “Aliens?” https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/06/16/aliens/

[2]  “The Exceptions” https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/02/10/the-exceptions/

[3]  “Genetic Engineering” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_engineering

[4]  “Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?” https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jan/08/designer-babies-ethical-horror-waiting-to-happen

[5]  “U.S. Super Soldiers Of The Future Will Be Genetically Modified Transhumans Capable Of Superhuman Feats” http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/u-s-super-soldiers-of-the-future-will-be-genetically-modified-transhumans-capable-of-superhuman-feats

[6]  “Not Expecting to Die” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/30/not-expecting-to-die/

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One-Verse Theology

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. (Psalm 5:5)

Sometimes people will take one verse out of the Bible and try to build an entire belief system from one verse without regard to what the rest of Scripture has to say about it. For example, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Non-Christians and even many Christians use this verse to humiliate Christians into not making any judgments whatsoever. However, when read in context (Matthew 7:1-6) it becomes clear that what appears in isolation is not what is meant as a whole. Other examples could be cited, but this should do for the purpose of this writing.

Recently someone complained that the overused cliché – “hate the sin, but love the sinner” – is not biblical, and they used Psalm 5:5 (above) as their proof text. While the phrase itself is not found in the Bible, the concept is nevertheless both biblical and practical. Note that the cliché is not attributed to God, but rather it is intended for Christians.

The plaintiff claimed that the adage, “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” is not biblical because Psalm 5:5 says that God hates both the sin and the sinner. However, the challenger took one verse, Psalm 5:5, in isolation, and overlooked what the rest of the Bible teaches about God’s love – indeed, His love toward the sinner. Who of us can honestly say that we harbor no sin? If we are all sinners, even if saved by Grace, then by this assessment, God hates us. If we say we are not sinners, we have a surprise in store. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us … If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, 10, emphasis mine). John was writing to Christians! Personally, I am grateful that God loves this sinner even though He still hates my sin. (By the way, the closer I get to Him, the more I hate my own sin.)

 So, let us examine the challenger’s one-verse defense in its entire context. Psalm 5 is an imprecatory psalm, i.e. a psalm that calls upon God to judge His or our enemies. It is written from a human perspective. Because of David’s understanding of God’s holy nature and His hatred for sin, he concludes that God hates the sinner equally. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (Psalm 5:4). God cannot and will not abide sin. David continues: “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5, emphasis mine). As Hebrew poetry, the psalms are written in a parallel style, so that the thought in the first part of the verse repeats in a different way in the second. Strictly translated, the first part reads, “Not do stand the foolish before Thy sight,” or, better, “The foolish do not stand before Thy sight.” Comparatively speaking then, someone who “works iniquity” cannot stand in the presence of God, so that it appears that God hates the sinner. The Hebrew word translated “hate” is śânê’, and it means “to be in opposition to” or “to be an enemy or foe;” however, to be in opposition to someone does not necessarily require feelings of hatred.  Is it the sinner that God hates, or is it the sinner’s works of iniquity that God opposes? The Bible teaches the latter. The KJV includes the future “shall” (not found in the original Hebrew) indicating that the sinner will never be able to stand before the Lord. The unrepentant sinner does not now, nor shall ever stand in the presence of God. Their sin has separated them from God eternally. Does that mean that God hates them?

 “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing [falsehood]: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:6, emphasis mine). The judgement is reserved for a future time. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). Does that mean that God did not love these sinners?

 The Bible teaches that God loves mankind. It teaches that from the very beginning. “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, emphasis mine). “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6, emphasis mine). “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15)

 Did God demonstrate hate for the sinner here, or did He show His love? By all rights, He should have killed them for their disobedience; after all, that is what He said He would do. Instead, God spared them, and He promised a Savior. Is that hate or love? One might rightly say, “Well, God was showing mercy.” Yes, that is true, but does mercy spring from hate or from love?

 David, a sinner himself, pleads with God to “Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee” (Psalm 5:10). God will do that in due time, but because of His mercy and His love (yes, love for sinners), He gives them time to repent. “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass [surround] him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12, emphasis mine).

 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, emphasis mine), “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis mine). “For God so loved the world [i.e. sinners], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). If God hates sinners, then why did He go through all trouble of making a way of salvation? “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11, emphasis mine).

 “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” It might be trite and overused, but it is biblical! It is also practical as it instructs us to love those who have offended us.

Reader, if you have not trusted in Jesus as your Savior, God does not hate you; He loves you, but He does hate your sin. You will never be able to stand before Him until that matter is settled. God loves you, and He sent Jesus to stand in your place and pay the price for your sins on the cross. Now He invites you to accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life. Acknowledge and confess your sinful condition to Him. Believe/trust that Jesus died for your sins. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin, and invite Him to be the Master of your life. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). His gift of salvation is yours for the asking. Do it today!

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Liberty

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:10)

Liberty. Dictionary.com defines “liberty” as freedom from arbitrary or despotic government control, external or foreign rule, or from control, interference, obligation, restriction or hampering conditions. It is the power of right doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

The Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Online Edition – published nearer the time of our nation’s founding – defines it more precisely, and its definition includes our leading verse. The 1828 Webster’s says that “liberty” is freedom from restraint and applicable to the body, or to the will, or mind. It is the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It goes on to say that this liberty is abridged by the establishment of government. This governmental abridgment is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. However, a restraint of natural liberty not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. “Civil liberty” is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty. The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others. “Religious liberty” is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control. More follows, but for now this will suffice.

It is worth noting that the modern definition makes no mention of “natural law” or the “laws of nature.” Nor does it mention the “Supreme Being” and the “free right” to religious liberty. It is easy to see why using the modern definition to interpret our founding documents dampens the meaning to words like freedom, liberty and the laws of nature and nature’s God.

In the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the Founders appealed to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” They affirmed that “these truths” are “self-evident that all Men are created equal … they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

From where did such a notion arise? Arguably, such ideas were adopted from enlightened philosophers of the time, who borrowed from the ancient Greek philosophers. However, it goes beyond that. These laws ultimately come from “Nature’s God.” The “Creator” created “all men” equal, and He “endowed” them with inherent rights that cannot be taken away – they are “unalienable.”[1]

God does as He pleases. “For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 12:25, emphasis mine). God is Creator. “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18, emphasis mine). God created man in His image (Genesis 1:27). God first gave man the “breath of life (Genesis 2:7), and “endowed” him with the attribute of autonomy that He Himself possesses. Hence, “liberty,” i.e., “freedom,” is a God-like attribute inherent to man that cannot be taken away. Therefore, those who would deprive another of “Life” (even unborn life) violate the “Law of Nature” and are called murderers, and likewise, those that would deprive another of “Liberty” (autonomy) violate the “Law of Nature’s God,” and are called tyrants.

The pursuit of happiness is a gift that comes from God. “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:2, emphasis mine). From the beginning, work has been both a curse and a blessing. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19, emphasis mine). The Preacher says, “I know that there is no good in [the sons of men], but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, emphasis mine). Because man bears the image of the Creator, he too creates, from his mind through his hands, that which brings him joy and happiness. “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17, emphasis mine). Indeed, God views in dishonor those who will not work; the Bible calls such “sluggards.” “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Proverbs 13:4, emphasis mine). “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4, emphasis mine). Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, emphasis mine).

Work is the means by which we “pursue happiness,” and by which we obtain private property. It is a gift of God. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, are the Laws of Nature that are derived from Nature’s God. They belong to all men[2] equally. The fact that ancient and modern philosophers tout these “laws” (as if conceived by their own intellect), is that they, whether they give assent to God or not, carry within themselves the image of God. We can thank God that these noble and lofty ideals found sanctuary in the founding documents of our nation. Liberty comes from God alone. “… happy is that people, whose God is the LORD (Psalm 144:15), and “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Notes:


[1]  This is why the Muslim religion that adheres to Sharia Law is incompatible with American Law, i.e., the Constitution of the United States of America.

[2]  By “men,” I mean mankind or humankind, male and female. I reject the political correctness that has invaded the English language whereby we must overly complicate the language by such as, he/she, his/hers, men/women, etc.

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Father

Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

On Father’s Day, we set aside a special time to honor the one who gave us life. For better or worse, without our fathers, we could not celebrate anything, especially our birthdays. Mothers get all the glory because they carried us in their bodies for nine months, but it did not stop there. Our arrival and entry into the world caused Mama unspeakable anguish and pain. After that came all the late night feedings, nursing us through illness, and nurturing us through all the bumps and bruises of life. Of course, Dad got in on some of that, but not like Mama, but let’s face it, without Dad, Mama would have missed out on all those cherished experiences.

The verse above reminds us not to minimize the importance of a father. It is obvious that the verse is speaking about the LORD as Father, but the connection is clear that God identifies Himself with human fathers. The verb “requite” is not heard in normal, everyday speech today, but it means to make a “repayment.” The Hebrew word translated “requite” is gâmal, and it means “to treat a person (well or ill).” So, the question can be stated: “Is this how you treat or repay the LORD?” In context, God gave life to the nation of Israel. Remember? He called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans and promised him the land of Canaan. God gave life to Isaac, and He chose Jacob (Israel). God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and established them in the land. Likewise, our earthly fathers gave us the spark of life and brought us into this world. Even if they were not the fathers that stayed around and provided for us in our childhood, they gave us the life we now enjoy. We should “requite” them with our honor and respect.

God is the model Father from which we can all learn. Granted, in our fallen condition, we cannot meet His standard, but we have a pattern to follow. We can thank our earthly fathers for “the seed” from which we sprang, but ultimately, God is Father to us all. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10, emphasis mine) “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8, emphasis mine).

King David expressed his wonder for the Father this way: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14-16, emphasis mine). Our Father concerns Himself with every detail of our being. Jesus said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30, emphasis mine). Hairs! Someone “follically challenged” like myself might see this as insignificant, but in truth, God even counts those hairs I have lost. As earthly fathers, we may not know the hair count on our children’s heads, but we should be encouraged to pay close attention to every detail of their lives.

Knowing every detail of our children’s lives makes us aware of their needs. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). The Hebrew verb translated “pity” here is râcham, and it means “to love” or “have compassion on.” Jesus said, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8, emphasis mine). Further on He says, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32).  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, emphasis mine). Fathers provide for the needs of their children.

The Father disciplines His children. “Discipline” in essence means “to teach.” “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  Sometimes, this might include corporal punishment. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [in good time]” (Proverbs 13:24). “Beatings” are never appropriate, but the “board of education” properly and lovingly applied with wisdom to the “seat of understanding” is sometimes necessary. God the Father and God the Son provided the example. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel” (John 5:19-20, emphasis mine).

Jesus, the Son, was subjected to and endured capital punishment for our sins. “For he [the Father] hath made him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). At first sight, it seems abhorrent for a father to put his own son to death for the offenses of another, but this is a unique case. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, emphasis mine).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emphasis mine). The Father, punished His own Flesh, i.e. Jesus, for His children’s sins. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).

Even so, we do not escape the Father’s discipline when we need it. “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” (Proverbs 3:11). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7, emphasis mine) “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). Our Father’s discipline serves to sanctify us, that is, to make us holy, i.e., set us apart from the world. If we live in sin like the world, and God does not punish us for it, that only means that we do not belong to Him, because “whom the Lord loves, He chastens.”

The Father gives good gifts to His children. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). Fathers want to leave an inheritance for their children. Some leave great wealth; others can only leave a good name. However, the Lord gives His children the ultimate inheritance. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7, emphasis mine). “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17).

Reader, if you are a child of God, regardless of your earthly father, whether good or bad, your heavenly Father cares for you and deserves your gratitude, devotion and obedience. If you are not a child of God, put yourself up for adoption; the Father will not turn you away. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). If you are a father, let God the Father be your example.

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As You Go

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Our pastor had us read The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (pseudonym) as a church, and this Sunday (the day of this posting), we will come together as a church and view the movie by the same title.

In the book, Nik Ripken tells of how he and his family served as missionaries in war-torn Somalia during the time of that country’s civil war from which it has yet to recover. Nik and his wife spent about twenty years serving in that place, and due to the oppressive Muslim influence, and the death of their 16-year-old son, they returned to the United States defeated with nothing to show for the effort they poured into that place. Sharing Christ openly invited the death penalty, and the Muslims would immediately kill anyone who converted to Christianity. The small minority of Christians that managed to survive fled the country because remaining there meant sure death.

One wonders why anyone would risk his life and the wellbeing of his family to serve in a God-forsaken place like Somalia. In that place, those that assume power are unconcerned about the welfare of their own people. They have no regard for the sanctity of life. They have no compassion for their own people. When help comes from outside their borders, they view the relief workers with suspicion, often taking the help meant for suffering people for themselves. Why would anyone put himself or herself in that position knowing that they cannot share their faith with the people and knowing that the “help” they provide might only extend someone’s life for maybe just another week or so? It seems a hopeless and pointless enterprise.

Nik took Matthew 28:19 as a personal calling from God to “Go!” “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis mine). This verse known as the “Great Commission,” was given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples—not just the twelve apostles, but to ALL of His disciples. It applies equally to every individual that names the Name of Christ. Albert Barns in his commentary on this verse says:

“Because” all power is mine [referring to v. 18], go! I [Jesus] can defend you. The world is placed under my control. It is redeemed. It is given me in promise by my Father, as the purchase of my death. Though you are weak, yet I am strong! Though you will encounter many troubles and dangers, yet I can defend you! Though you die, yet I live, and the work shall be accomplished!”

Nik and his wife took this commission to heart, and gave up all their worldly goods to go minister to people who showed little appreciation for their sacrifice and would just as soon kill them except for the fact that they were meeting real needs. I deeply admire their courage and their willingness to obey what I believe, at least for them, was a real call of God. However, in reading their story, one might mistakenly conclude that Jesus’ Great Commission means that we are all to pull up stakes and “go” to all nations. In other words, we are all obligated to be foreign missionaries. That is not at all what Jesus said.

The imperative in Jesus’ command is to “make disciples” not to “go.” Poreuthétes (go) is an aorist, passive, participle, masculine, plural, nominative verb. (I apologize for the Greek parsing, but this is important.) The fact that it is an aorist verb is not too special; it only means that it is a definite action. However, the fact that the verb is in the passive voice indicates that it is a consequence of something else. That it is participle indicates a continuing action (“going”). The verb is a plural nominative meaning that Jesus addressed all disciples, not just certain individuals. If Jesus spoke Texan, He might have said, “all y’all.” Therefore, the intended meaning here is, “As you (plural) are going, make disciples…” The command, i.e. the imperative, is to “make disciples,” and it applies to all followers of Jesus, not just missionaries.

The Ripkens felt God’s call to “go” to Somalia based on this verse, but the verse is not a call to all Christians to “go” somewhere to make disciples. All Christians are called to make disciples “as you are going”—at school, at work, at the supermarket, in your neighborhood. In your everyday walk of life, you are to “make disciples.”

If you claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have no choice in the matter, unless you choose to rebel against Christ. Before He ascending unto heaven, Jesus said, “…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, emphasis mine). That is a declarative statement; it is not a matter of choice. If we say we are followers of Jesus, we are witnesses, for better or worse. Our lives testify to Christ. Do our actions match our words? Perhaps we withhold our words because we know our actions betray them.

No doubt, one of the tactics Satan uses to silence us is to make us feel unworthy. Let’s face it, no one of us has lived or lives a perfectly sinless life, although, that is certainly a worthy goal for which to strive (and it can be achieved by relying daily on the Holy Spirit). The point is that we are witnesses for Christ. Satan is a conquered adversary, and besides, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, emphasis mine). Satan has no power over us, unless we let him.

In the last half of The Insanity of God, Nik Ripken interviews hundreds of persecuted Christians in Russia, Ukraine, China and the Middle East. These Christians suffer horrific persecution—beatings, imprisonment, economic deprivation, etc. Through it all, they only ask of us that we pray for them, not that they should be kept from persecution, but that they remain faithful witnesses in persecution. What persecution do we, here in America, suffer because of our faith? Is being laughed at too horrible? Would losing a relationship be too much to take? What about being fired for sharing your faith with a coworker? Is that too great a risk? Nik noted that perhaps the reason we do not see persecution here in America is that Satan does not need to silence us. We do a good job of that on our own.

“As you are going, make disciples.” We are witnesses for Christ. We are either good witnesses, or we are poor witnesses; but we are witnesses nonetheless. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis mine).

 

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The Eternality of God

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen. (Psalm 41:13)

I received an email just this week from a man trying to understand how God stepped out of eternity in order to create the universe. He said in part:

What research do you recommend, which helps one understand how God came out of eternity and made Genesis 1:1 come to pass? In other words, how does an endless succession arrive in the present? I understand that God is timeless and that He came out of eternity to create the universe about 10,000 years ago. But what was the Trinity doing prior to 10,000 years ago?

Reader, if you have struggled with this question, you are not alone in your bewilderment in understanding eternality of God. All of us “finite” human beings have a hard time wrapping our minds around eternity. It is less difficult for us to understand time having a beginning and going on infinitely, but eternity past is something difficult for us to grasp. God declares Himself to “Be”—He just “Is”—He “Exists.” When Moses asked God to identify Himself so he could report back to the people, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). By the way, Jesus made the same claim: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The Pharisees that heard Jesus’ proclamation clearly understood what Jesus was saying. “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59, emphasis mine), because to them, His words were blasphemy.

Well, that does not really answer the question, but it does confirm that God has always existed, even before time. Perhaps what we need to understand is that God created time. Time is part of the created universe. Without time, there is no universe. We understand the universe to be triune in nature composed of time, space and matter/energy. The first verse of the Bible establishes this: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine). God made time (beginning), space (heaven), and the earth (matter/energy). Since He is the Creator, He has access to time at any point in time, and since He is eternal, He is also present in all points in time. He is present in the past, present, and future. God is “omnipresent.”  God says, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10, emphasis mine), The psalmist declares, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalms 139:7). There is no escaping God, although many attempt to deny His existence. God calls such people “fools” (Psalm 14:1).

No research can demonstrate how God accomplishes this. There are some things we simply cannot know. There are some things that God intended for us not to know; our brains just cannot handle them. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, emphasis mine).

“Those things which are revealed” are written down in God’s Word, the Bible. Reader, if you do not know God, you can know Him—He can be known. Knowing Him is as easy as ABC. Borrowing from Pastor J.D, Farag of Calvary Chapel, Kaneohe, Hawaii:

Here is an article from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) that talks a little more about the eternality of God: http://www.icr.org/article/time-eternity/.

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Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Thank You, Lord Jesus!

You have preserved my life for 67 years and You have blessed me with a good, strong body and excellent health. And even though I have not escaped “the curse,” I still do pretty well, for an “old man.”

A couple of months ago I thought I was fit enough to run, and, while You kept whispering to me not to do it, I thought I could, and did. The next day, my right knee loudly complained that I should have listened to You.

Thank You for a good physical trainer that understands the anatomy that You designed and assembled enough to take it easy on my whining knee, and who encouraged me to have a doctor take a closer look. This time I listened, and I went to see my familiar orthopedist, Dr. Medlock. Thank You for the knowledge You have revealed to men and women in the medical field. Thank You for the desire You have instilled in them to devote their lives to the care of others.

Dr. Medlock started with conservative means – a cortisone shot to the knee. That did not help, so he ordered an MRI. Thank You for such wonderful technology You have allowed humans to develop that see inside the human body to help doctors pinpoint physical injuries. Dr. Medlock saw that I had, for the second time in one year, torn the medial meniscus in my right knee, and it would require surgery to repair.

Last Friday, May 26, 2017, I went to the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Medical City, Dallas to get the work done. Thank You, Jesus that You have allowed me to live in the United States of America where we have an abundance of good public and private hospitals staffed with talented and well-trained medical personnel that are efficiently run without oppressive government meddling. Dr. Medlock is an excellent doctor.  With the use of an arthroscope (again, thank You for technology) and the skill of an excellent surgeon (thank You for Dr. Medlock), I was out of the operating room in less than an hour.

Thank You for my wonderful wife, June, who drove me home in the car You gave us. Thank You for an abundance of food at every corner. June bought me a double-double Whataburger for my first meal with money You have provided through the ability You have given us and by the good employment You have provided. You have even provided the insurance to cover most of the medical expenses through the employment You have provided.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for a church family, and a choir and Sunday school family and all the many Christian brothers and sisters You have blessed us with that care for us, and pray for us, and encourage us as we go through the down parts of life. You have not left us alone!

Today, I am four days out of surgery. So far, You have given me the strength to walk eight blocks around the neighborhood, and I plan to walk at least four more before the day is done. Tomorrow, I will drive the pickup You gave me to the place of service You have provided for me.

Thank You, my Lord Jesus, most of all because I am Yours.

Lord, I feel sorry for all those who are so richly blessed by You, and they do not even realize from Whom their blessings flow. Open their eyes, Lord. All things come from Your hand, dear Lord Jesus. Thank You.

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Filed under Random Musings, Thanksgiving, Worship