Tag Archives: Sin

Merit-Based Salvation

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

There exists a common misconception among non-Christians and, sadly, even among some Christians, that when it comes time to meet our Maker that we can gain entrance into the celestial realm based on our merits. As our lead verse suggests, “God shall bring every work into judgment … whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” If challenged, those who hold that view almost always see themselves as better than most. They may admit to “small” sins like telling a “white lie” now and then, stealing a pack of gum, failing to correct a cashier when given too much change, or something equally innocuous. By their estimation, their “good” works will outweigh their “evil” works on the cosmic scales, and God will say, “Good enough!”

To some extent, it seems that the Bible teaches merit-based salvation. Our lead verse teaches that God looks at every work, both good and evil. Superficially, one may get the impression that He weighs the two – good on one side, evil on the other. First Peter 1:17 says that “the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work…” (emphasis mine). Indeed, at the end of time when Christ’s millennial reign on earth has ended, a scene unfolds where all who ever lived appear before the judgment seat of Christ. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:13).

It indeed appears that people will be judged according to their works. Should this be cause for hope for those counting on their own goodness? Taking a closer look at our leading verse, note that God scrutinizes “every work” and determines whether it is good or evil based on His standard of goodness. God made man in His image (Genesis 1:27), and for that reason, God deemed man “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but man messed that up in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Beginning with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7), man’s attempt at covering up his sin always falls short of the perfection he possessed before the Fall. Only perfection qualifies for entry into the presence of God. “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27, emphasis mine). Interestingly, I cannot find the word “sin” in the book of Revelation, but there are several synonyms: anything that defiles, whatever works abomination or makes a lie. All of that is sin, so whether one has a little sin or a lot of sin, one is disqualified from entering heaven.

The Great White Throne Judgment scene in Revelation sees “books” opened, and the “dead” judged by the content of the books “according to their works” (Revelation 20:12). Evidently, there are “ledger books” recording both the good and evil deeds of every person that has ever lived. Since NOTHING that defiles “shall in no wise enter,” no one qualifies. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). However, “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). There the guilty sinner stands before the Righteous Judge, “and another book was opened, which is the book of life … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Reader, is your name written in the Book of Life? Do not think you are good enough – that your sins are minor compared to someone else. Only perfection gains entry into heaven and no one qualifies. However, there is a way. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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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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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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Securing Eternal Life

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

Surely you have heard, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” The adage applies to gimmicks intended to take advantage of the gullible. Those who believe they can obtain eternal life in heaven based on a system of merits think it is “too good to be true” that one can get to heaven by simply believing. Those who realize the gravity of their sinful lives think it is “too good to be true” that they can be absolved of their sin simply by asking and believing. However, it is true. Anyone who wants to can go to heaven. It will only cost you your life. Do not be alarmed. Let me explain, and make it as simply and clearly as possible.

First of all, no one can be good enough to go to heaven. That is the bad news.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (Romans 7:18) In other words, no matter how hard we try on our own, we can never be good enough!

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16) You see, even observing all the Law written in the Bible (as a matter of ritual) cannot secure for you a place in heaven.

Secondly, our sin keeps us out of heaven. Instead of eternal life, our sin earns eternal death (in hell) for us. That is more bad news.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die … (Ezekiel 18:20)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (Revelation 20:14) “Death” in this sense is eternal separation from “Life” which only comes from being in the presence of God. Our “soul” is an eternal creation created for fellowship with God. For the soul to continue to exist outside of the presence of God is “death,” but without ceasing to exist. That is indeed bad news!

Thou [God] art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity … (Habakkuk 1:13). God is holy and cannot abide sin; therefore, He cannot allow sinners to reside with Him in heaven.

Thirdly, God provided a way to eternal life. Here is the Good News!

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)

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [than the name of Jesus] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31)

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 cannot work our way to heaven and eternal life. It is a “gift” of God that cannot be earned; it can only be “received.”

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) God did not wait for us to get “better.” Jesus died for my sins, as the old hymn says, “Just as I am.”

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10) All God requires is that you take Him at His word and believe the Gospel (i.e. the Good News that Jesus died and rose from the dead to pay “the wages of sin” on your behalf). However, if you truly “believe” you will also “confess,”i.e. tell others. One of the first and best ways to do this is to present yourself before a Bible-believing congregation and submit yourself to baptism (by immersion preferably). There is no “magic” in this, but it gives “testimony” to yourself and others, but more importantly to yourself, that your “belief” is genuine.

Lastly, once you have accepted God’s gift, it can never be lost. That is even better news!

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29) As one of Jesus’ “sheep,” we are doubly secure; we are secure in Jesus’ hands which is secured in God the Father’s hand. You cannot be more secure than that!

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36) “Hath” is present tense. Whoever believes in Jesus “has” eternal life presently and forever.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) NOTHING can separate us from the love of God when we have placed our trust in Jesus.

Sticking to Scripture as much as possible, I have made it as simple as I can. If this makes sense to you and the Spirit of God urges you to follow through, here is all you need to do:

  1. Talk to God. Use your own words. God is a person, and He knows and understands what is in your heart. No “magic” words are needed.
  2. Confess your sin to Him. We are all sinners. He knows your sins, but He wants you to recognize your sin and your need for Him to forgive you of your sins.
  3. Ask God to forgive you of your sins and invite Jesus to come into your heart and to be the Lord, i.e., the “boss” of your life. In doing this, you are in effect giving your life over to Him. That is not a bad thing. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

That’s it! If you are sincere (and God knows) in what you have just done, you have secured for yourself eternal life – you are “saved.” However, right now, you are just a “baby” Christian, and there are some things you need to do to grow in your new found faith.

  1. Talk to God daily. This is called “prayer,” but it is simply talking to God.
  2. Get a Bible are read it daily. I recommend that you begin with the Gospel of John – the fourth book of the New Testament. (You can find it in the index of the Bible) Also, read the Book of Proverbs; there is a lot of good practical teaching there.
  3. Find a good Bible-believing evangelical church. Most Baptist churches are very good as are many “Bible” churches. Either way, you want a church that believes that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.
  4. When you have found a good church, go forward at the pastor’s invitation (following the sermon) and let him know that you want to follow the Lord in “believer’s baptism.”
  5. Join a Bible study group or class where you learn more about what God has to say in His Word.
  6. Get to know the family of God – your brothers and sisters in Christ – by joining them in regular fellowship. This will help you to grow in your spirit and in your bond with fellow believers. The Bible encourages this: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Welcome to God’s forever family. Your place in eternal life is secure. I will see you in heaven!

If this still sounds too good to be true, read my page on “Heaven.” You may also be interested in other articles on the topic of salvation:

“Nothing Changes” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/04/15/nothing-changes/

“Not Here” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/04/01/not-here/

“Jesus’ Last Days” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/25/jesus-last-days/

“Jesus’ Brethren” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/04/jesus-brethren/

“High Cost of Admission” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/02/11/high-cost-of-admission/

“End of the World” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/01/21/end-of-the-world/

“Tough Love” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/01/07/tough-love/

“Pressed Three Times” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/10/22/pressed-three-times/

“The Millennial Kingdom” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/03/the-millennial-kingdom/

“Clueless” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/08/20/clueless/

“One-Verse Theology” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/08/06/one-verse-theology/

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

“The Eternality of God” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/06/04/the-eternality-of-god/

“Who Is Jesus?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/05/14/who-is-jesus/

“Good Guys Go to Hell” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/04/30/good-guys-go-to-hell/

“In the Twinkling of an Eye” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/04/23/in-the-twinkling-of-an-eye/

“Risen Indeed!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/04/16/risen-indeed-2/

“The King is Coming” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/04/09/the-king-is-coming/

“The Devils Believe!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/04/02/the-devils-believe/

“Are You Good Enough?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/03/26/are-you-good-enough/

“Not Passed On In The Genes” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/05/15/not-passed-on-in-the-genes/

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What Can I Give God?

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10)

I heard a story about two bills that were printed on the same day. One was a one-dollar bill, and the other was a twenty-dollar bill. They became good friends, but as things go with paper money, they were soon separated at the bank and went off in different directions. After many years apart, the two ended up in the same wallet. The one-dollar bill immediately recognized his long lost friend. “Andy! How have you been? What have you been up to?” The twenty-dollar bill responded enthusiastically, “Well, Georgie, let me tell you. I have just been having a grand old time. I have been on several cruises up and down both coasts of the good old USA. I’ve been to all kinds of concerts, and sports events. I have dined at the finest restaurants all over the country. I’ve been having a blast! How about you, Georgie? What have you been up to?” The one-dollar bill sheepishly answered, “Well, you know me, Andy … church, church, church.”

Giving to God is a struggle for many. I could spend a lot of ink offering many scenarios and excuses for why Christians have trouble giving to God, but the simple truth of it is lack of trust in God. Everyone has “X” amount of money coming in, and “X” amount going out and the two Xs have to balance. Unlike the government that makes its money by legalized theft, most people work for a paycheck which is limited by what the employer is willing to pay. That paycheck only goes so far, and it has to cover housing, food, transportation, medical expenses and so on. Unlike the government, real people get into real financial trouble when they spend more than they take in. Unlike the government, real people cannot print extra money when they run out of cash; that’s against the law.

After all of that, the Bible teaches that we should give to God. The Old Testament teaches the concept of tithing (giving 10%) of our income to God. The first example of this takes place early in the book of Genesis when Abram gives a tithe of all his spoils to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20). Melchizedek was the pre-incarnate Christ.[1] Later the practice of tithing was codified in the Mosaic Law tithes were collected for three different occasions. They were the Levitical tithe (Numbers 18:21, 24), the tithe of the feasts (Deuteronomy 14:22-27) and the tithe for the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).[2] In all, the Israelites were giving 30% not just 10%.

Why did God demand so much? The answer is that God wants His children to depend on Him for their provision. God proved Himself as Provider by giving them manna daily and water in the desert. In all their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, neither their clothes nor their shoes wore out (Deuteronomy 29:5). God took care of them even with all of their complaining. God showed that in spite of what they gave up in tithes, God abundantly provided for all of their needs.

Another purpose for the tithe was so that the people could participate in God’s work of provision. One of the tithes was for the maintenance of “the Church.” The Levites, the priestly tribe, were not allotted any land. They derived their sustenance from the tithes the people brought to the Tabernacle (later the Temple). It was also used for the maintenance of the facilities. The third tithe provided for the poor, and through it, the people participated with God in caring for those who could not care for themselves.

Doubtless, like in other aspects of their religion, the Jews were unfaithful in the giving of their tithes. God points this out through His prophet Malachi. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8). Of course, we cannot rob God! As our lead verse affirms, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. In another place God makes the claim, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:8). Every created thing belongs to God, even our very souls. “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). If God owns it all, what then can I give Him?

God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and with that image came a free will to choose. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4), but sin is a choice every soul makes individually. Our soul, then, is the only thing over which we exercise a small measure of control, and therefore the only thing which we can give to God. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). The “sacrifice” is our offering or “gift” to God. A broken and contrite spirit and heart recognize God for who He is and submits to His ownership. It acknowledges our sinfulness before the Great and Holy God and our unworthiness of all His beneficence. By His grace, we receive what we do not deserve. By His mercy, we are spared what we do deserve. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Part of that “reasonable service” includes giving of tithes and offerings for the work of the Lord. I have heard Christians say that the New Testament does not mention tithing. This is true, but neither does it negate the practice. Jesus practiced Judaism perfectly and was therefore obligated to offer tithes. (He paid taxes also: Matthew 17:27; Mark 12:17.) Jesus expanded upon the law by going beyond the external practice to the very thoughts of man – “Ye have heard it said of old … but I say” (Matthew 5:21-46). By the same token, early Christians brought more than a tithe to the church; they sold all of their possessions and gave it to the church (Acts 2:44-45). Paul relates the attitude of the Macedonian church in their giving. He said, “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:5, emphasis mine). There is the sacrifice!

Many Christians (80%) do not tithe for a variety of reasons, but most do not tithe because they fear they will not have enough to meet their financial obligations. This demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s provision. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). It also demonstrates that they have not given themselves to the Lord completely; therefore they are relying on themselves for their provision. Other Christians do not tithe because they view their possessions as their own. They have not learned that God ultimately owns everything; we are merely stewards of the blessings He has placed in our possession.

Tithing is an act of faith. It is the sacrifice of ourselves to God through our lives and our possessions. Tithing is the only practice in which God challenges us to test Him. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10 emphasis mine). Before you take up that challenge, be sure that you give yourself to Him first.

What can I give God? I can give Him all of my life and give back all that He has given to me.

 Notes:


[1]  “Is Salem Jerusalem?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/08/16/is-salem-jerusalem/

[2]  “The Three Tithes of the Old Testament” – https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1958/09/the-three-tithes-of-the-old-testament

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Bare Naked

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (Genesis 3:7)

Man (and woman) was created in the image of God – Imago Dei for the sophisticates. That image incorporates many of God’s attributes without the omni- aspect of those attributes. Man is a rational being, although that ability to reason progressively wanes through constant rejection of God (Romans 1:28). Man creates beauty: art, sculptures, music, architecture, etc. Man invents gadgets that make life easier: machines that carry us over land, through the sea or in the air to get us where we want to go. We use all kinds of machines to help us perform our work more efficiently: computers, portable communications devices, power tools of all kinds, and even sophisticated diagnostic equipment that allow doctors to “see” into our bodies to find malfunctions. Man’s ability to design, engineer and fabricate finds resolution only in that we are created in the image of God. None other of God’s creatures possesses the almost limitless creative abilities that man has. However, no other creature bears the image of God. Evolutionists (who suffer from the Romans 1:28 syndrome), would have us believe that humans are just a more highly evolved specimen of animal. However, according to evolutionists, some animals currently in existence have been around much longer than humans have. So, one must ask, why do they remain the same with no evidence of evolution – not in the least bit? Nevertheless, that is not the point of this writing.

Humans demonstrate the image of God in their ability to love and in their ability to judge right from wrong. Humans, like God, are triune creatures with a mind, spirit and physical body. Some people have difficulty understanding that God is three persons in one Godhead. That confusion becomes clear when one understands that humans are also three persons in one “soul.” The mind directs man’s activities. The spirit of man motivates man into action, and the body carries out that the plan. Of us, God says, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalm 82:6, emphasis mine). Jesus made the same argument when the Pharisees would stone Him for blasphemy. “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34, emphasis mine). [1] Just as God is Three-in-One in complete unity, humans too possess a triune nature.

The body, the “carriage” for our mind and spirit, also represents the image of God. Jesus, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15, emphasis mine) is the Creator; “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible …” (Colossians 1:16, emphasis mine). “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3, emphasis mine). Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7, emphasis mine). Knowing that He would one day be “made in the likeness of men,” it stands to reason that Jesus, the Creator, would design the kind of body suitable for Himself for His time on earth (and after).

The care that He took to design the human body becomes apparent when we read the creation account in Genesis 1. Every creature God created came about by Divine fiat. “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Genesis 1:20, emphasis mine). “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so” (Genesis 1:24, emphasis mine). However, when it came to man, God took greater care. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27, emphasis mine). Chapter 2 provides even greater insight. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul … And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Genesis 2:7, 22, emphasis mine).

Still, man lacks one aspect of God’s physical form. Of Jesus, Paul writes, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:16, emphasis mine). The Beloved Apostle also wrote, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5, emphasis mine).[2] The Bible often describes angels as possessing a glow about them. Moses, when he came down from the mountain after spending 40 days in the presence of God had a glow about him. The glow caused the children of Israel to fear so much that they asked him to cover his face.[3] There was a glow about Jesus when He was transfigured that left the disciples awestruck.[4]

It seems likely that part of the image of God in man would include a glow about our bodies, but we no longer see that. Oh, I know some psychics claim to see an “aura” around people, but if one is there, it is too dim for “normal” people to see it. As the guy in the motel commercial says, “Nobody glows.” Why is that? I have a theory.

As we noted, God is and dwells in light. In the beginning when He said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), He actually created darkness to contrast the light. He says as much to the prophet Isaiah: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things”(Isaiah 45:7, emphasis mine). So, I believe that when God created man in His image, He created man robed in light. Perhaps that was included in the “breath of life.” When Adam disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit, the light went out (and so too did “life”), “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). It is instructive to note that it was not until Adam (not Eve) ate of the fruit that their eyes were opened. It was Adam, not Eve, who received the command not to eat of the forbidden fruit directly from God; thus, his was the greater responsibility.

To cover (atone) their nakedness, God had to kill innocent animals to make clothing for the bare naked pair. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21, emphasis mine). There may be an intentional play on words here. The Hebrew word for skin is ‛ôr, spelled עוֹר. The Hebrew word for “light,” the clothing they had lost, is ‘ôr, spelled אוֹר. When Adam sinned, the couple lost their ‘ôr (light), and God had to cover their nakedness with ‛ôr (skins).

That temporary covering for sin required the shedding of innocent animal blood. The permanent covering for sin required the innocent blood of the Son of Man, the Lamb of God. Now God offers that gift to us at no cost. Only one thing remains – that we accept the gift by faith. See my page on Heaven for the rest of the story.

Notes:


[1]  See John 10:24-39 for context.

[2]  This is often understood to say that God is the source of all wisdom, knowledge and truth. This is certainly true given the context surrounding this verse. However, Henry M. Morris, Ph.D sees the physical aspect of God’s light as he notes in The Henry Morris Study Bible: http://www.icr.org/Bible/1John/1:5/

[3]  See Exodus 34:30-35.

[4]  See Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36.

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Nothing Changes!

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)

Nothing changes! Well, that is not exactly true. Many things change. The First Law of Thermodynamics informs us that matter/energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be changed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that everything is changing from order to disorder. I experience that every day as I endure the aging process.

However, humanly speaking with regard to our relationship with our Creator, nothing really changes. We may be more technologically advanced than past generations, but we still fall into the same sin traps that Satan sets before us. Nothing changes!

In the Garden of Eden, God gave only one command: “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). Satan’s strategy to bring about the Fall was simple: (1) Create doubt in God’s Word. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1). Not only does he challenge God’s Word, but also he purposefully distorts it to raise further doubt. (2) Challenge the veracity of God’s Word. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). God said, “thou shalt surely die,” but Satan calls God a liar. (3) Character assassination of God’s character. “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). In other words, God is keeping something good from you. God does not want the very best for you.

Nothing changes! Satan continues to use the same strategy: create doubt in God’s Word, deny the truth of God’s Word, and denigrate the character of God. Satan also employs tactics that take advantage of human frailties: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). This too never changes. In the Garden of Eden, Eve “saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life]” (Genesis 3:6, emphasis mine).

The Bible tells us that Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis mine). Following His baptism by John the Baptist and in preparation for His earthly ministry, Jesus went off into the wilderness to fast and pray for forty days and nights (Matthew 3:13-4:11; Luke 4:1-13). At the end of the forty days and nights without food and very little water, Jesus was physically weak and vulnerable. Satan chose this time to attack with the lust of the flesh: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3; Luke 4:3). Note that the question also challenges the Word of God: “If thou be the Son of God.” When that tactic failed, Satan tried to seduce Him with the lust of the eyes: “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5). Not only did Jesus see all the glitz and glamour the world offered, but this overture also exploited the pride of life. The final attempt to cause Jesus to fall involved the pride of life because it challenged Jesus’ position as the Son of God. “And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:9-10).  Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis mine).

Nothing changes! Satan still uses the same strategy and attacks our human weaknesses just as he has from the beginning of time. “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). Satan knows that. He hates God, and he hates that which God loves. Therefore, he does all that he can do to keep people from knowing the truth that God loves them and wants them to have eternal life. Nothing changes! Satan still employs the same strategy, and humans still have the same weaknesses. However, things can change when “whosoever believeth in Him.” Jesus beat Satan at his game in the wilderness. He paid the ultimate price for our sins with His shed blood on the cross. He broke the chains and the power of death when He rose from the dead on the third day.

Nothing changes unless we are willing to believe and place our faith and trust in Jesus. Then everything changes! “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). If you want to do that, here is what you need to do:

  • A. Admit/confess you are a sinner: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “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).
  • B. Believe that Jesus is Lord and rose from the dead to give us eternal life. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
  • C. Call on the name of Jesus for salvation. Confess and believe (Romans 10:9-10 above) and ask Jesus to save you. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). “…for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

There is nothing hard about this. It is as easy as ABC; however, it is not a magic formula. The decision must be heartfelt and sincere. God knows your heart. He is not fooled by empty words, but if you mean it, God is faithful, and He will keep His promise.

Nothing changes? Well, maybe today it can change for you.

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