Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Being Gods

Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?       (John 10:34)

When Satan met Eve in the Garden of Eden, he charged that by His prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God denied Adam and Eve of something good. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5, emphasis mine).

Being gods remains mankind’s greatest desire. We all want to have complete, unfettered control of our lives with no one telling us what to do; and we want, as much as possible, to exert influence and control over others. The latter becomes more apparent daily as we witness the radical left’s efforts to alter the course of our nation. The strong desire to force upon our society their radical agenda manifests itself in unprecedented violence across our land. They want to be the gods that dictate what we all should do.

However, this is not a new phenomenon. History records the rise and fall of numerous demagogues. Bringing it closer to home, we might be tempted to deflect the guilt to them and deny that we harbor the same desire to make our own rules and impose them on others. We all like being gods to one extent or another.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders wanted to be gods, although they would never admit to that. They were the keepers of God’s law, and from their self-perceived superior position, they sought to impose their perception of God’s law on others. They enjoyed their position of control. They were being gods without knowing it. However, they met their match with Jesus. Him they could not control, so they sought to destroy Him.

It was the winter before His crucifixion around the time of Hanukkah (John 10:22). The Jewish religious leaders surrounded Jesus with the hope of finding something with which to accuse Him of a capital offense. “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24). Jesus referred to His countless miracles, of which no doubt they were familiar, in His defense. Nevertheless, the clear evidence escaped these “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16, 24). Their incapacity to perceive the truth centered on the question of ownership. They were not Jesus’ sheep (John 10:26-27); they were their own “gods;” therefore they could not recognize His authority or submit to His direction.

Since the clear evidence eluded them, Jesus plainly told them what they wanted to hear, “I and [the][1] Father are one” (John 10:30). That was plain enough. Jesus made it clear that not only is He equal to God (the Father), He is the same as the Father. The message came through loud and clear. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:31). They got what they were after. He deserved to be stoned “for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33).

Jesus then quoted from Psalm 82, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34). The psalm begins with this declaration: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods” (Psalm 82:1). Considering the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, “the mighty” and “the gods” are the same.[2] To “the mighty” and “the gods” God challenges, “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?” (Psalm 82:2). Then He charges, “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4). These mighty gods are none other than the leaders of the people – ordinary men in extraordinary positions of power and authority. Yet, according to the psalm, they are ignorant of God’s laws and supplant them with laws of their own devices, so that “all the foundations of the earth are out of course” (Psalm 82:5). To these demigods, God says, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes” (Psalm 8:6-7). God confers the appellation of “gods” on these rulers in that they are “children” of God. As such, they are God’s representatives on the earth, “princes” to carry out God’s will on earth. However, they are not more special than other men. They will die just like every other man.

The psalm ends with a cry for God to, “Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations” (Psalm 82:8). In the end, the One true God will reign over all the earth, and here He was standing before the Jewish leaders. God accused of blasphemy by the little gods.

Solomon rightly lamented, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, emphasis mine). We still try to be our own gods – set our own rules and impose our will on others. Since the Garden of Eden, we continue being gods, even if only in our minds. The sooner we learn to let God be God, the sooner we can enjoy the peace and rest that only God can give. To all who are tired of being gods, Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour [at being gods] and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Notes:


[1]  The KJV inserts “my” in italics where the Greek text (Textus Receptus) used the definite article “the” before “Father.”  εγω και ο πατηρ εν εσμεν

[2]  Michael S. Heiser, in his book The Unseen Realm, suggests that the elohim (gods) in this psalm refers to the “congregation” of the bene elohim (sons of God) that make up the council of God.  These include both God’s angels and Satan’s angels as seen in Job 1. That idea is not implausible, however, based on Jesus’ reference to it, it can also apply to mankind.

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Only Eight Saved

Noah, a Preacher of Righteousness

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (1 Peter 3:18-20)

One of the many attributes of God is that He is longsuffering. The English word first appears in Exodus. “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation (Exodus 34:6-7). The word “longsuffering” translates two Hebrew words: ‘ârêk meaning long or patient and ‘aph meaning nose or nostril, hence the face. Together they picture the face of God as He patiently looks on His wayward children. The word appears three other times in the Old Testament: Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15; Jeremiah 15:15.

In the New Testament, “longsuffering” appears 13 times. It appears first in Romans 2:4, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” In the New Testament, “longsuffering” translates the Greek compound word, makrothumiamakrós meaning “long” and thymós meaning “passion, anger.” Together they render “long-passion,” i.e., waiting a long time before expressing anger.

God’s longsuffering can be misconstrued as indulgence, leniency, or indifference. On the extreme side, some interpret God’s apparent laxness in punishing evil to mean that God does not exist. However, that is not what the Bible teaches. “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). God patiently waits a long time giving sinners sufficient opportunity to repent. He does this for individuals and for mankind in general.

Not long after God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, the couple disobeyed God’s only command, which brought death – separation between God, the Creator, and man, the creature – to all their posterity (Genesis 3). Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4). Cain was born first (Genesis 4:1), and Abel came sometime after (Genesis 4:2). As the narrative unfolds, we learn that Cain rebelled in his offering to God, while Abel sacrificed according to God’s prescription. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s, and this incited Cain to jealousy and anger. Eventually, Cain murdered his brother, and God banished him from the rest of the family. [1] Cain’s progeny followed their father’s rebellious attitude to the point that murder was a bragging right. “And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold” (Genesis 4:23-24).

God’s longsuffering produced in Adam and Eve a son in the place of godly Abel. “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew” (Genesis 4:25). Over the next 1500 years or so, the human population of earth exploded and became perverse. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6). Even God’s longsuffering has its limits.

Seth’s line, however, remained pure to the end. “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:7-8). God instructed Noah to build a massive barge, 450’ x 75’ x 45’,[2] large enough to carry all who would be saved. It took Noah less than 100 years to complete his task.[3] In that time, Noah did all that he could to warn the people of the coming Flood. Peter describes Noah as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) demonstrating God’s longsuffering in providing a warning to an ungodly world.

The Ark had sufficient space to save many besides Noah and his family. The “kinds”[4] of animals onboard probably took up less than half of the available space. At one time, I calculated that the Ark could have carried more than 2400 human passengers,[5] yet only eight were saved. I wonder whether God would have sent the Flood if 2400 had listened to Noah’s preaching and repented. It reminds me of Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:23-33). He pleaded for 50, then 45, then 40, 30, 20, and finally 10. God, “not willing that any should perish,” would spare the cities for ten righteous people. Alas, only Lot, his wife, and two daughters were the only ones saved, and even they were dragged out by the angels (Genesis 19:16).

The Old Testament is a history of God’s longsuffering. The book of Judges, in particular, ends with the sad refrain, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25, emphasis mine). Two thousand years from Abraham, Messiah came as promised and His own rejected Him (John 1:11). Jesus died on a Roman cross to pay our sin debt. They buried Him in a borrowed tomb, and He rose again on the third day. Forty days later, He ascended to His throne in heaven of which He said, “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 14:2-3).

It has been more than 2000 years – six millennia since the Creation. God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but the time of the Sabbath rest is drawing near. There is a limit to God’s longsuffering. The voices of the prophets sound from every corner of the world. God is not willing that any should perish. The old hymn says, “There’s room at the cross for you,” but just as only eight were saved in the Ark, and only four saved from Sodom and Gomorrah, only a few will be saved from the wrath that is coming. Jesus said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14, emphasis mine). Don’t miss the boat. Jesus will come very soon. Don’t get left behind. If you have not given your life to Him, read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 4:1-16

[2]  Genesis 6:15 – 300 cubits x 50 cubits x 30 cubits. The dimensions are calculated based on an 18” cubit.

[3]  Noah’s sons were born when he was 500 years old (Genesis 5:32), and they entered the completed Ark when Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:11). We are not given Noah’s age at the time God gave him the task to build the Ark, but we can infer that it was after his sons were old enough to help.

[4]  The biblical “kinds” equates to taxonomical “families” in modern terms. The Ark did not carry every species of air-breathing land animals. It only carried the basic families from which all other variations would derive.

[5]  The Ark’s passenger capacity is based on 2/3 of the total available square footage (96,750 sq. ft.) of the Ark or 64,500 sq. ft.  Taking 25% of the remaining space for stores leaves 48,375 sq. ft. for passengers.  Allowing 80 sq. ft. per a family of four, or 20 sq. ft. per person (the average size of an 8×10 2-man prison cell), and dividing 48,375 by 80 yields about 605 living spaces.  At 4 people per space, that comes to 2420 total passengers.  More could have been accommodated if needed.

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Three Fingers Back

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

I often hear the charge, “that’s not very Christian” coming from non-Christians when a Christian acts or speaks in a manner which the non-Christian deems inappropriate for a Christian (as if they would know what is or is not appropriate for a Christian). I get that. They make those judgments based on their humanistic worldview that determines right or wrong according to their contrived values. It is a relativistic worldview that authorizes the individual to make value judgments as he sees fit. “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Everyone has his/her own value system. Everyone has his/her own “truth.” One can say or do whatever one wishes as long as it is legal and “it does not hurt anyone else.” That rule applies to everyone – except for Christians. Christians are judged by a different measure. That measure is the subjective preconception of how a Christian ought to behave.

While I understand the source of the non-Christian’s warped perspective of how a Christian should behave, I am really taken aback when I hear the exact criticism coming from another Christian. What is up with that! One would think that all Christians should present a united front. That was Jesus’ desire for us. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word [that be us]; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21, emphasis mine).

Now when the Mormons come knocking on your door, this is one fault they like to point out. “Why are there so many religions when Jesus wanted us all to be one?” When someone asks me that question, I quickly agree and say, “I think we should all be Baptists!” I am joking, of course. I understand most of the denominational differences, but as Christians, we should all have one thing in common that unifies us. Salvation is through Grace alone, through Faith in Christ alone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can discuss our differences on how we view baptism, communion, predestination vs. free will, glossolalia (speaking in tongues), eschatology (end times), creation, etc. We can even debate over those issues – in love. However, we must keep those discussions based on Scripture, not on personal opinion or the opinions of others. What does the Bible – God’s Word – have to say about it? There is nothing wrong with that, and there is much right about that. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).

However, questioning the Christianity of another Christian – especially in a public forum like Facebook – is wholly inappropriate. That very act is “un-Christian.” The familiar axiom – “When you point the finger at someone else, you have three fingers point back at you” – is true. Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). However, in saying that, He was not prohibiting value judgments. In context (Matthew 7:1-6), Jesus referred to making a condemning judgment against someone else. The Greek word translated “judge” is krinō, which means to condemn. Only Jesus can properly judge an individual because only He knows the heart and the motives of the person. We do not possess that ability. We can, however, judge actions – what can actually be seen – and determine whether those actions are right or wrong from the rubric of God’s Word. We can determine if a brother’s actions are not in keeping with God’s Word, but we have no right to accuse him of not being a Christian. We know neither his heart nor his motives.

Jesus makes it clear that we must make judgments. In the same passage, He said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6). Determining who the “dogs” and “swine” are demands a judgment. “That which is holy” and “your pearls” is the Gospel message we have to offer. Some people will reject the message and treat it as a dog treats a rag toy. The message will offend others to the point that they will attack you – either verbally or physically. Either way, their actions determine whether you continue to share the Gospel with them or not. When that happens, Jesus said to “shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11). You have made a judgment.

Jesus later offers another example. He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16). How does one recognize a false prophet without making a judgment? One must judge! By what standard do we make that judgment? We make that judgment based on the Word of God. When the prophet speaks, do his words match up with the Word of God? You have to make a judgment! Jesus further points to the actions – fruit – of the false prophet. If that prophet talks like a Christian but behaves like the devil, then perhaps you are right to point at the “bad fruit.” If the prophet’s message is inconsistent with the Word of God, then he should be called out for his false teaching but be sure you are standing on firm, biblical ground. Also, be prepared to take on fire.

Again, we cannot judge the heart or the motives of another believer, or anyone for that matter. It is possible, though doubtful, that the false prophet is a Christian. I have known false prophets who spoke the truth, right out of God’s Word, but their lives told a different story. The truth of God’s Word remains, though the messenger may be faulty. Here is where we must be careful in making judgments. The false prophet may or may not be a true believer. I have heard testimonies of pastors that preached behind pulpits for many years before realizing their own lost condition and turning to Christ for salvation. It can happen! Jesus cautioned, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? … Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3, 5).

Before accusing a fellow believer of not being Christian, we must examine ourselves – critically – to make sure we are not at fault. Moreover, I cannot emphasize it strongly enough; our judgment – even our self-examination – must be based on Scripture, not personal (or “expert”) opinion. We should be willing to judge ourselves more strictly than we do the errant brother. Then, with our conscience cleared by the Holy Spirit, we can judge the “actions” of that brother – never, never the heart or motives. When we find a brother in err, Jesus said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15). What if he will not listen? Read the rest of the passage.

There is another danger in Christians accusing Christians of non-Christian behavior. If you do this, you are playing for the wrong team. There is one who constantly brings charges against Christians before God. He is known as “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Scripture first introduces him to us in that role in the account Job’s life (Job 1:6-7). His name is Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12), but his title is Satan – accuser. Of this one, Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). When we wrongly judge another Christian – especially in a public way – we are guilty of slander. Another word for slander is character assassination, i.e., murder. When you do that, you are doing the devil’s work for him. Do you really want to go there?

Judge, but judge with righteous judgment. Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The only way to carry out righteous judgment is by the standard of God’s Word – not your feelings, not your opinions, not the opinions of “experts,” and especially not by the ever-changing standards of the world. God’s Word is the only measure by which to judge righteously. When you feel tempted to judge a fellow believer, take a very close look at yourself and “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye.” You may find that you are the one in the wrong, not your brother. If your brother is in the wrong, take him aside and lovingly help him see his error from Scripture. Don’t point out his error on Facebook or some other public forum; that is what Satan would have you do because Satan’s goal is to destroy the Christian witness however he can. Don’t help him; he does a good job of that on his own. Remember, when you point the finger, three are pointing back at you.

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Born Gay

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

The notion that people are “born gay” is based on a flawed and biased study done in 1991 by researcher, Simon LeVay.[1]

LeVay’s study also had numerous technical problems. For instance, his samples included 19 brains of gays who died of AIDS and 16 brains from men whose sexual orientation was unknown. He assumed the 16 were heterosexual, even though 5 had died of AIDS. More importantly, although LeVay argued that a small INAH3 “caused” homosexuality, some of the gays had an INAH3 that was larger than the average size of the INAH3 of the “heterosexuals,” and some of the “heterosexuals” had an INAH3 that was smaller than those of gays. So some of his gays “should” have been heterosexual and vice-versa.[2]

INAH-3 is the short form for the third interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus, and is the sexually dimorphic nucleus of humans. The INAH-3 is significantly larger in males than in females regardless of age and larger in heterosexual males than in homosexual males and heterosexual females. Homologues of the INAH-3 have been observed taking a direct role in sexual behavior in rhesus monkeys, sheep, and rats.[3]

LeVay himself was a practicing homosexual, hence the bias in the study. The study’s findings were inconclusive and would be otherwise considered unscientific in its methods, but because some the homosexual men’s brains displayed this “abnormality,” the study was published as proof that gay men are born that way. However, Johns Hopkins recently came out with an article showing that there is no evidence for this claim.[4]

Aside from the science, the Bible rejects the notion of people “born gay.” God does not create a person to naturally do what He has denounced as an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5; Jude 1:7, et al.). No one can accuse God of making him/her that way (James 1:13-14). Homosexuality and all other forms of sexual perversions (sex outside of marriage, adultery, incest, etc.) is sin. Humans are sinners by choice, not by God’s design (Genesis 3), and because there is always a choice, God always provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). People sin willingly, and homosexuality is no different from any other sin.

Discrimination against homosexuals is no different from discrimination against people based on their ethnicity. Looking at it biblically, all people are created equal before God (Acts 17:26). Homosexuality is an act and a choice (like any other sin). A person’s ethnicity is not a choice, but no matter what the ethnicity, all people are “born” sinners. There is nothing wrong with associating with homosexuals. In fact, as Christians, we should show them the same love and respect that we show anyone else. However, that does not mean that God or we approve of their lifestyle, nor should we withhold the truth from them when challenged about their sinful lifestyle. We must share the truth “in love” even though the pill may be hard to swallow.

The truth is that we are all sinners in need of the Savior. If you do not know the Savior, see my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

 Notes:


[1] LeVay S A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men. Science 1991;253:1034-1037

[2]   Dr. Paul Cameron, “Born What Way?” http://www.familyresearchinst.org/2009/02/born-what-way/

[3]  INAH 3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INAH_3

[4]  Tyler O’Neil, “Johns Hopkins Research: No Evidence People Are Born Gay or Transgender,”  https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/08/23/johns-hopkins-research-no-evidence-people-are-born-gay-or-transgender/

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Closed Borders

I found this meme on my Facebook news feed. I thought it was funny, so I shared it with my Facebook friends. One Christian brother was offended by the post, and his objection generated quite a conversation and inspired this blog post.

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26)

Images of small children separated from their “parents” caught crossing our southern border illegally, and held in “cages” have aroused the ire of many Americans lately, especially Americans of “Christian” leanings. Like the images of snotty-nosed, emaciated children with sad, tear-stained faces broadcast by the Christian Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and others, or the pictures of abused and neglected dogs and cats displayed by the American Humane Society, these images are intended to wrench the gut and stir the emotions to incite a response. They are manipulative, and they work!

No one likes seeing children separated from parents, and worse, to have them put into cages like animals. What the viewer of such images fails to consider is that the camera lens offers a very narrow field of view. The camera is subject to the photographer (or editor, in the case of the news media). The camera only shows what those who control it want the viewer to see, and not what can be seen if the viewer were present. God gave humans eyes that surpass any manmade or man-directed camera a thousandfold. The images of children in cages rip our hearts apart, but those images are designed to do just that.

What the cameras fail to show are children turned over to “coyotes” who will smuggle them across the border for a (large) fee and with no guarantees. Many of those children were separated from their parents long before crossing the border. What the cameras fail to show are the semi-trailers in which those children are transported by the “coyotes” to the border. Some do not survive the trip. The inhumanity of it all originated long before they arrive at our border. What the cameras fail to show is the “upgrade” when they arrive in the US. They are provided with good food, clean bedding, and clothing, showers, personal hygiene needs, medical exams, etc. All the cameras show are the “cages,” which are nothing more than an area closed off by a chain-link fence to keep them from wandering off. The cameras display only selective “truth.”

The debate, when faced with such heart-wrenching images, is complex, and there are no simple answers especially when our immigration laws have been neglected for decades. (Laws which are not intended to be enforced should never be written!). The “hard” truth of the matter is that we are a nation of laws, and immigration law says, that immigrants to this country must enter with proper documentation and “permission.” The US is not unique in this respect. Mexico, who supplies most of these invaders[1] of our southern border (they are not all Mexican) enforces stricter immigration laws than the US. I would remind the reader of the Marine who recently went on a hunting expedition in Southern California and took a wrong turn ending up in Tijuana, Mexico. As he attempted to turn around, he was apprehended by Mexican police and immediately thrown into a Mexican prison. Thanks to the Obama administration, our honored service veteran remained in that Mexican prison for over one year before private citizens funded his release. Obviously, Mexico does not offer the same tolerance that it demands of the US.

What should the Christian response be on the question of the illegal invasion of our southern border? First, reject the false messages displayed by the television cameras, and try to separate emotions from reality. This does not mean we refuse to supply for the needs of our “uninvited” guests. We can help by supplying for their physical and especially for their spiritual needs.

Understand that borders are God’s design. God, “hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26, emphasis mine). This is NOT a racist statement because the first part of this verse clearly rejects the notion of “races.” God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26, emphasis mine). The source of these “bounds” goes all the way back to Genesis 11:1 when “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” God’s desire was for people to multiply and fill the earth. Instead, “they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4, emphasis mine). Because of their rebellion against God’s command, God confused the one language into 70 basic languages and nations, and they all scattered across the face of the earth. Nations, languages, and their borders are by God’s design from the beginning, so the notion of open borders is contrary to God’s design.

So, what does God have to say about how we treat uninvited invaders? The first example of how a “stranger” should be treated is provided in Exodus. The Passover (Law) was to be observed by Israelite and stranger alike (Exodus 12:48-49) – so much for “diversity.” Strangers are not to be mistreated. “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).

Many who protest against our “unjust” immigration laws cry out that “we are a nation of immigrants!” While this is true, what they forget (or purposely omit) is that in the past, immigrants entered by legal means. A visit to Ellis Island in New York tells the story of what immigrants of the past had to endure to gain entry into the US. Among other requirements, they had to demonstrate a desire to become “Americans,” to assimilate into the American society, and to obey American law. This is not at all what we see happening at our southern border.

Some suggest that these invaders are “asylum seekers.” While that may be true for some, it is a fallacy to characterize them all that way. Most of them are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and who can blame them! They only want a chance at the American dream, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Entering the country by breaking the law makes them criminals from the start. Let’s get real here! Even American citizens who break the law get separated from their children. Why is this any different? Some complain that the immigration laws are unjust. Fine! Change the law, but while there is law, it should be enforced equally for all. In the meantime, instead of complaining about the perceived mistreatment of the invaders, perhaps what Christians should do is minister to the needs of the illegal border crossers until they are returned to their homes or legal arrangements can be made for them to stay.

By the way, I am the son of an immigrant who came from Mexico. My father entered the US legally and carried a “green card” for many years until he became a naturalized citizen. He instilled in his sons love for this country, and he would strongly disapprove of waving the Mexican flag over the flag of the United States. One of the happiest days of his life was when he obtained his US citizenship. So as I approach this subject, it is not from a position of “hate” for people from south of our border. How could that be? I am of Mexican descent. As an American, I see the need for secure borders as a matter of national security, and as a Christian, I recognize that borders are God’s idea. Those who would open our borders to the world are no different than the people who attempted to build the Tower of  Babel. Additionally, open borders are a globalist ideology that will find its ultimate end in the reign of Antichrist. Think carefully before jumping on the open borders bandwagon.

 Notes:


[1]  “Invaders” seems like a harsh term. Nevertheless, it is an accurate term.

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O Beautiful!

Mayflower Compact, Signed November 11, 1620

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)

President Obama insulted American Christians when he proclaimed to the world that America was not a Christian nation. He went on to announce that America was just as much of a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or any other religion of your choice nation. Christians rightly protested (without violence or destruction of public and private property) that America was indeed a Christian nation as enshrined in our founding documents.

Before setting foot on their “promised land” on November 11, 1620, the Pilgrims covenanted together “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith” to “combine” themselves “together into a civil body politic.” The Mayflower Compact later influenced the freedom pact declaring our nation’s independence on July 4, 1776, assuming “among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” The declaration went on to assert, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” After a long list of grievances, they made their appeal “to the Supreme Judge of the World” declaring their “firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence,” i.e., God.

The reliance on Divine Providence prompted the founders to include in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution, the First Amendment protecting freedom of religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The amendment also guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of the press and “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This First Amendment (and the Second that secures it) is under assault on many fronts. A plain reading of the text makes it clear that the government cannot impose one religion over another. At the same time, the government cannot prohibit the free practice of a citizen’s religion. Conspicuously, no restrictions exist on the exercise of religious practice – no restriction for the free practice in public, public schools, public buildings, public events, or any other such restrictions. However, put up a Nativity Scene in the public square, or the Ten Commandments at the county courthouse or on the wall of a public school, or offer a prayer at the start of a high school sports activity, and the ACLU will be out in full force looking for someone to sue. On what grounds? The ACLU will argue that such religious activity violates the “separation of church and state,” a phrase found nowhere in the Constitution. With the aid of unscrupulous judges, the ACLU intimidates victims without the resources to fight the litigation so that they give up without a fight. Slowly, the ACLU has eroded away the concept of religious liberty.

Now, legislation in various states, California in particular, slowly chips away at what remains of the First Amendment by declaring that any denunciation of sodomites is “hate speech” and therefore illegal. That destroys free speech. It destroys freedom of the press, which might even make the Bible illegal because it has much to say about deviant sex acts. It could follow that the freedom to peaceably assemble in a church that teaches against sodomy will be declared illegal, and forget about petitioning the government over such a grievance. There goes the First Amendment. Without the Second Amendment, which is systematically being picked apart, how can the First Amendment be defended?

Barack Obama was right. Whatever America used to be, it is no longer a Christian nation. I hear many Christians express optimism that we can turn around this nation. Many hope for national revival (2 Chronicles 7:14 – taken way out of context). I must admit, I do not share that optimism. That ship has sailed. America is no longer a Christian nation, and it will never again be a Christian nation. Christians – genuine, born-again, Bible-believing, evangelical Christians – in America are rapidly becoming the “remnant.” We can voice our complaints until our tonsils bleed, and nothing will change, except perhaps for the worst.

I do not mean to be a Gloomy Gus, nor do I want to be a Pollyanna. I want to be realistic, and I want to be biblical. While the Bible teaches that we are to submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-8) and that we should pray our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), we must recognize that our primary citizenship is not of this world, but the kingdom of Jesus Christ. “For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). In His high priestly prayer, Jesus affirmed, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). While America is not “the beautiful,” innocent virgin she once was, we who have placed our trust in Christ, are children of the King, (John 1:12) and citizens of His realm. While we remain and while He delays His return, we must turn our focus and our efforts to His Kingdom. The things of this earth, including America the Beautiful, are passing away (1 John 2:17), but His Kingdom will last forever (Luke 1:33). “When ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors” (Mark 13:29).

O, Beautiful! I lament your demise, but I rejoice knowing that the Lord will soon return, and He will truly make America great again – better than ever! Not only America, but His reign on earth will make the whole earth better than before. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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Conversation

Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:23)

We engage in conversation on a daily basis. If there is no one around with whom to converse, we sometimes hold a conversation with ourselves or with the dog or cat. Conversation can be completely mindless or profound.

The modern dictionary defines “conversation” as: “informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.” In addition, noted as “obsolete,” conversation can mean “behavior or manner of living.”[1] That “obsolete” definition is what we find throughout the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible; therefore, we must grasp this meaning of the word. Otherwise, Scripture, like the passage above, becomes confusing, and the deeper meaning of the text is lost.

Before considering the biblical application of the word, let us consider its etymology.

Conversation (n.) mid-14c., “place where one lives or dwells,” also “general course of actions or habits, manner of conducting oneself in the world,” both senses now obsolete; from Old French conversacion “behavior, life, way of life, monastic life,” and directly from Latin conversationem (nominative conversatio) “frequent use, frequent abode in a place, intercourse, conversation,” noun of action from past-participle stem of conversari “to live, dwell, live with, keep company with,” passive voice of conversare “to turn about, turn about with,” from assimilated form of com “with, together” (see con-) + versare, frequentative of vertere “to turn” (from PIE root *wer- (2) “to turn, bend”).[2]

Considering that the KJV was first published in 1611, the original meaning of the word should be applied in the reading. Basically, the word “conversation” in the Bible (and here I mean the KJV Bible) refers to the way one conducts one’s life. Our “conversation” is how we live, conduct, or carry on our lives. Each person’s conversation will differ and will reflect either who he/she really is or who he/she pretends to be. With that in mind, let us look at some passages from Scripture that provide instruction for our “conversation.”

The English word “conversation” appears 20 times in the KJV Bible, twice in the O.T. and 18 times in the N.T. In some instances, “conversation” may translate different Hebrew or Greek words and may obscure a deeper meaning. We shall see.

Both O.T. occurrences of the word appear in Psalms and translate the same Hebrew word, derek, which literally means a “road” or a “path.” By implication, it is the course of one’s life. Psalm 37:14 says that “the wicked” target those who live an “upright” or “righteous” life. “The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.” That is not much incentive for living a godly life, however, Psalm 50:23 offers great encouragement from God. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” (By the way, taking the “whole counsel” of God’s Word into account, simply living a “good life” will not earn anyone salvation. Ordering your “conversation aright” begins with trusting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.)[3]

As previously stated, “conversation” appears 18 times in the N.T., but it translates different Greek words. The most frequent Greek word translated is anastrophē, which means “behavior.” We find this first in Galatians 1:13. Here, Paul describes how he behaved before meeting the Lord Jesus. “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.” Paul’s life changed radically after meeting Jesus face-to-face. He went from being a zealous persecutor of the Church to being persecuted for preaching the Gospel – equally as zealously. Thus he encourages believers to follow his example: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). A “Christian” that continues in the sin of his/her former life does not carry on a new “conversation” indicating that no change has transpired in his/her life.

As followers of Christ, our lives should be examples to others as Paul encouraged Timothy. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). James says that our good behavior demonstrates “wisdom” and “knowledge.” “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

Peter uses anastrophē eight times in his letters. Our behavior must be “holy,” i.e., “set apart” (for God’s use). “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15). What God has done for us deserves our very best. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Relate to anastrophē is anastrepho, the verb form, which means “to overturn; also to return; by implication to busy oneself.” In other words, these are the “actions” one takes. This Greek verb is used twice in the N.T. by Paul. In 1 Corinthians 1:12, he refers to his “conversation in the world,” that is, the “work” he is doing. In Ephesians 2:3, Paul refers to the sinful activities in which we once participated. “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

In the Epistle to the Philippians, “conversation” translates both the noun and verb form of politeuma (n.) meaning “a community” and abstractly referring to “citizenship.” “For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). The verb form, politeuomai, means to “behave as a citizen.” When we come to Christ, we are no longer citizens of this world; we are “citizens” of heaven. Therefore, we ought to act the part.

Finally, “conversation” translates the Greek noun tropos meaning “a turn, that is, (by implication) mode or style. It is synonymous with anastrophē, and it refers to “deportment or character,” i.e., the way we conduct ourselves. We find this one-time use in Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conversation [deportment] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Jesus paid a high price to give us eternal life. We who have placed our faith in Him are now “children of God” (John 1:12) and citizens of heaven; we are not of this world (John 17:16). Therefore, our “conversation” should reflect our status, not pridefully, but with humility and meekness, as children of the King and citizens of His Kingdom!

 Notes:


[1]  http://www.dictionary.com/browse/conversation?s=t

[2]  https://www.etymonline.com/word/conversation

[3]  “Securing Eternal Life” – https://erniecarrasco.com/securing-eternal-life/

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