Search This Blog

Monday, March 30, 2015

Some Thoughts of Hell

How Is Hell Reasonable?
Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev 20:10).

It is not hard to think that Hell is reasonable for the Devil and his demons. For two reasons:
1. From an eternity past as a covering Cherub angel (Ezek 28:16), he not only tried to replace the Creator God, but he deceived and led a third of the angels of God to rebel against God (Rev 12:4).
2. Hell was created for Satan and the rebellious angels that followed him (Matt 25:41).

But How Is Hell Reasonable for human beings?
“. . if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15). And, that “forever?” (Matt 25:46)!

There are many who don’t believe that Hell exists, especially for human beings! Even Abraham asked: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" (Gen 18:25).

There are many inadequate and false understandings about this biblical doctrine that need clarification. In the first place, is Hell just a lake of fire where all suffer alike?

“... the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” (Rev 20:12). Punishment will be “according to their deeds.” And, in Luke 12:47, 48, punishment will be modified according to the amount of their knowledge of God’s will, hell then is not all the same! And, while Satan and his demons are fallen angelic beings, what are human beings? Some think that people are just high grade animals and have no more existence after death than any other animal!

Of first consideration, what is the nature of human beings that they have an eternal existence? First, the human race was created having the image of God (Gen 1:27). But even more than that:
“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7 NASU). 

 Since God is eternal, man was created to have an eternal existence. For his soul became eternal, having received the breath from God. However, life is not only in existence, but in the quality of existence. The life of rebellious, unregenerate people is:

“. . the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, . .” (Gal 5:19-21 NASU). People who have this lifestyle often describe it finally as “a living hell!” They have no peace, and even more so, as they live in the power of unregenerate life which is described as:

“. . dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, . .” (Eph 2:1-3 NASU), “. . having no hope and without God in the world.” ( Eph 2:12 NASU).

While these are the words of Scripture, yet as a person observes the words of those who reject Christ and the Scriptures, many will describe their lives: “as sure as hell” and “die like dogs” without hope after death and having had no enduring good purpose in life! The evidence of this can be seen in the publications in most every convenience store! So often this is the story of the rich and famous as well as the down and outers of skid row!

The Scripture as well as history bears witness that who or what people choose to follow determines their future life. Indeed, elections are determined by the promises and later performance of those who would become leaders, whether of nations or individuals. As the men of the Constitutional Convention saved their meeting by following the advice, reportedly by Benjamin Franklin, who said to effect: “How can we expect a great nation to arise without invoking the guidance of deity (the Christian God)?” And, after prayer, they finished writing the Constitution and the States ratified it. The result: The United States of America became the most prosperous nation of the World. In recent history, it must be noted the fate of nations who followed the teaching of Karl Marx and Charles Darwin. These tried to conquer the World and their followers experienced untold suffering and destruction, namely: Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao.

Having observed that nations and people groups experience good or evil according to who and what philosophy they follow in temporal affairs, it must be considered how does this apply to the reasonableness of the existence of eternal experiences for human beings? As has been observed from Scripture, humans have an eternal existence having their souls formed by God’s breath.

Human history also bears witness that people have always been concerned about life after death. Some built pyramids. Even atheists build philosophies respecting life after death, to deny that there is none! These can be thought of as in Shakespear’s Hamlet, it was said: “Me thinks that the lady protests too much!”

Built into human beings is the conviction that good and evil have origins greater than their experiences. They have even given names for some greater than man to be the underlying sources of purity and corruption. This is the testimony of even those who make idols and graven images.

This simply agrees with what Scripture reveals. God is the source of every good and Satan is God’s rebellious fallen angel and the deceitful source of evil. The irrefutable testimony of every thing man sees is caused by something. Therefore, there must be the Great First Cause of good and a strong bad cause of everything evil. When people deny the one, they will usually question the existence of the other.

There has been much said about man having a “free will,” the ability to responsibly choose good or bad, intelligently or foolishly. Again, it depends more as to where humans get their information. This is obvious in both ordinary affairs and in spiritual matters. From the very first, and in the present, there are many battles over who to believe about whatever. We are bombarded with advertising, political arguments, and religious proclamations. In the spiritual, there are eternal consequences as to those who honestly contemplate over the issues.

Since any competent and thorough examination of the Judeo-Christian Bible testifies that it is inspired from God, it is only logical to accept its testimony. There has been a battle of faith from the first humans whether to believe the Creator God versus Satan. It has been established through out history that people experience whatever is the nature of the destiny of who they follow. Since Hell was made to be the final destiny of Satan and his cohorts, it is only reasonable that those who follow him share Hell as their final residence.

Conversely, those who follow Christ have a home in Heaven where He resides and is making a place for those who follow Him (John 10:27 & 14:1-3).

Satan’s gospel is try to be like him, be your own god by your own intellectual ability to desire what is good and evil. He used suggestion and denial, God uses truth for those who will seek it from Him consistently (James 1:5-8).

How Is Hell Reasonable? Hell is Satan’s destiny and for all who disbelieve God. For they have followed Satan’s suggestion by rejecting God’s Word. Therefore, they could not receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Charles H. Spurgeon on Discipleship

"A whetstone, though it cannot cut, may sharpen a knife that will."

"If I had any human master he would have been out of patience with me long ago, but the Lord Jesus Christ never gives up a scholar; having once commenced to teach, he continues his divine lessons till they are fully learned, and the more difficult it is for him to teach the more honour it will be when he gets all his scholars educated for the skies."

"He cannot be a disciple who does not learn, but invents."

"It seemed, sometimes, to be rather repelling men than attracting them to say to would-be disciples, 'If you will follow me, do this, and do that,'—perhaps, some very trying ordeal; yet that was the Saviour’s usual habit."

"You cannot be Christ’s servant if you are not willing to follow him, cross and all. What do you crave? A crown? Then it must be a crown of thorns if you are to be like him. Do you want to be lifted up? So you shall, but it will be upon a cross."

"God in his providence and in grace, as far as we have been made willing to learn of him, is educating us for something higher than this world."

"All the flowers of the field, and many of the beasts of the plain, and now the very orbs of heaven, are turned into metaphors and symbols by which the glory of Jesus may be manifested to us. Where God takes such pains to teach, we ought to be at pains to learn."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Evelyn Underhill on Discipleship

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) was an English Anglo-Catholic apologist best known for her works on Christian mysticism, prayer, and theology. She was the first woman invited to give a series of theological lectures at Oxford and the first to become a retreat leader in the Anglican Church.

Underhill lived with her husband at 50 Campden Hill Square in London from 1907 to 1939. Her life was greatly affected by her husband's long-standing resistance to her joining the Catholic Church to which she was powerfully drawn. He was a writer who supported her writing career, but did not share her spiritual convictions.

Underhill was a prolific writer who published 39 books and more than 350 articles and reviews. Here are some of her thoughts on growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ:

"God is acting on your soul all the time, whether you have spiritual sensations or not."

"Those who complain that they make no progress in the life of prayer because they 'cannot meditate' should examine, not their capacity for meditation, but their capacity for suffering and love. For there is a hard and costly element, a deep seriousness, a crucial choice, in all genuine religion."

"God is as much in the difficult home problems as in times of quiet and prayer."

"Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again."

"As the genuine religious impulse becomes dominant, adoration more and more takes charge. 'I come to seek God because I need Him', may be an adequate formula for prayer. 'I come to adore His splendour, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet', is the only possible formula for worship."

Evelyn Underhill with Orthodox priests circa 1930, King's College London 

Evelyn Underhill was an ardent opponent of Spiritualism which, during her adult life, had captivated many in the English churches. She explained that spirituality for the Christian "concerns our search for the living mystery of God. Spiritualism, on the other hand, is based on a belief in the possibility of the living contacting and communicating with the spirits of the dead."

Archbishop William Cosmo Gordon Lang established a committee in 1937 “to discuss the relationship, if any, between spiritualism and the traditional teachings of the Anglican Church.” One of the committee members was Evelyn Underhill, who later withdrew, stating that she was “very strongly opposed to spiritualism... especially to any tendency on the part of the Church to recognize or encourage it.”

The continuing spiritual decline of the Church of England is doubtless due to its failure to speak against all forms of occultism. In the end, the committee recommended ecumenism between the Church of England and the spiritualist movement: “It is in our opinion important that representatives of the Church should keep in touch with groups of intelligent persons who believe in Spiritualism.” This constituted opening the door to the demonic, and until the Church of England repents it cannot be restored to wholeness.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A.W. Tozer on Discipleship

"Jesus calls us to his rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort."

"Faith never means gullibility. The man who believes everything is as far from God as the man who refuses to believe anything. Faith engages the person and promises of God and rests upon them with perfect assurance. Whatever has behind it the character and word of the living God is accepted by faith as the last and final truth from which there must never be any appeal." (The Root of Righteousness, Chapter 34)

"Whatever a man wants badly and persistently enough will determine the man's character." (The Root of the Righteous, p. 116)

"To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart." (The Pursuit of God, p. 14)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

C.S. Lewis on Discipleship

C.S. Lewis: What makes a true disciple of Christ distinctive?

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him, but trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”
Mere Christianity

“Give me all of you! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU! ALL OF YOU! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart shall become your heart.” ― Mere Christianity

“Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” ― Mere Christianity

“Now we our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't.” ― Mere Christianity

Related reading: Billy Graham on Discipleship; Oswald Chambers of DiscipleshipC.S. Lewis Was a Thoroughly Converted Man

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Oswald Chambers on Discipleship

Oswald Chambers (1874–1917) was a Scottish Baptist evangelist and teacher, best known for the devotional My Utmost for His Highest. As a teenager, Chambers was noted for his deep spirituality, and he participated in evangelistic outreach to poor occupants of local lodging houses. He also demonstrated gifts in both music and art. Chambers trained at London’s Royal Academy of Art, sensing God’s direction to be an ambassador for Christ in the world of art and aesthetics.

“The best measure of a spiritual life is not its ecstasies but its obedience.”

"The characteristic of holiness, which is the outcome of the indwelling of God, is blazing truthfulness with regard to God's word and an amazing tenderness in personal dealings."

"Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God."

"If the closest relationships of a disciple’s life conflict with the claims of Jesus Christ, then our Lord requires instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person— our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a vast difference between devotion to a person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause— He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself."

"We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people— and this is not learned in five minutes."

Related reading: Billy Graham on Discipleship

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Billy Graham on Discipleship

This is the first in a series on discipleship that shares the insights of inspiring Christians on discipleship. The series includes the thoughts of Dr. Billy Graham, Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis, D.L. Moody, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, Charles H. Spurgeon. A.W. Tozer, Evelyn Underhill, and John Wesley.

"Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have."
"Our minds must be set always to seek the will of the Lord. Following the progressive discipline revealed through the Bible will result in a walk of obedience to God.”
"Jesus Christ spoke frankly to His disciples concerning the future. In unmistakable language, He told them that discipleship means a life of self-denial, and the bearing of a cross.”

"Many Christians want the benefit of their belief, but they hesitate at the cost of discipleship.”

“To be a disciple of Jesus means to learn from Him, to follow him. The cost may be high.”

“Let us always remember that Christ calls men and women not only to trust Him as Savior, but also to follow Him as Lord. That call to discipleship must be part of our message if we are to be faithful to Him.”

Related reading: C.S. Lewis: Impressions of Billy Graham; Oswald Chambers on Discipleship

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Praying Back the Wonders of Christ

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

From Hebrews

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,” Heb 1:1 NKJV

Father, I thank and praise You for revealing Yourself to sinful humans for our redemption. Thereby, we may be reconciled to you. Being reconciled, You call us to join in the glorious fellowship of Your Family. How can we praise and worship you enough? For You reveal glorious treasures known only to You. This makes possible a wondrous relationship to those who listen attentively. The more we redeemed hear and trust, the more You make us Your friends (John 15:14, 15).

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:1, 2 NKJV

Father, I thank and praise You for revealing Yourself to the prophets and holy men in the Old Testament times. Through whom You revealed surpassing great and precious promises. These are expressions of Your righteousness and the glory of Your Person. But how marvelously greater through Your Son.

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:1, 2 NKJV

Father, I thank and praise You for revealing the Lord Jesus Christ as the climax of all that is revealed by and through the Old Testament prophets.

How precious the times, when He appeared in human form in dealing with Abraham’s prayers for Lot. Jacob was forever changed from trusting in himself when Jesus wrestled with him as a man. For Jesus made him God confident! Thereby, by becoming Israel, prince with God and to men!

Even greater, all things are approved for us in Him as He is Your Heir of all things. For from eternity past You made all things through Him for us! Therefore, You use all things for our sanctification through His shepherding (Rom 8:28, 29).

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, . .” Hebrews 1:1 - 3a NKJV

Father, I thank and praise You that the Lord Jesus is “the radiance of your glory!" Therefore, He gives vision of You as our light. Light which no natural man can approach.

Some have said that He is not Emmanuel, God with us! But if they could only see Him as He was on the Mount of Transfiguration, they would see the radiance of your glory! Then, they could only say that they saw You! For Jesus is the divine, radiant light of Your Person! The fullness of diet! What men would see if they saw You, the fullness of deity. Oh, Father how great You are from what Jesus reveals You to be!

I praise You that in His revelation, the light shed was so much greater. The revelation in and through the Lord Jesus out shines the past revelations like the brilliance of the sun out shines a searchlight! For when men saw Him, they saw You through the veil of His flesh! Then, though the cloud of His human body, but in Heaven, His glory will out shine the suns of the universe!

Another Praise:

This pictures the Lord Jesus as Your eternal Word. The phrase before portrays him as effulgence what can be seen as the photons (light particles) of the sun. It is Your essence illuminating what you are, Your very unchangeable substance. Jesus as the expression of your essence -- as the “ I am the Lord, I change not." He is the form Job wished to see in his resurrected body. He wanted his confession carved in stone and filled with a lead unchangeable form forever.

“. . His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, . .” Hebrews 1:3a

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: this picture of the Lord Jesus as Your eternal Word. The phrase before portrays him as the outshining of your glory as the photons of the sun -- your essence lighting all around with what you are. But now your Spirit portrays Jesus as the unchanging die tool stamp of your unchangeable substance to be progressively stamped on us (2 Cor 3:18). The Greek word reflects Jesus as the expression of your essence -- as the “I am the Lord, I change not." He is the unchangeable word, the eternal reality of You who is the from Job wished to see you. He greatly desired the picturing of his picture of you: carved in stone and filled with a lead, in unchangeable form forever.

“. . when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews 1:3b NKJV

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: this picture of the Lord Jesus as your eternal Word. The phrase before portrays Him as Your the radiance of your glory as the photons of the sun -- your essence lighting all around with what you are. But now your spirit portrays Jesus as the unchanging die, stamp of your very unchangeable substance. This reflects Jesus as the expression of your essence -- as the “I am the Lord, I change not." He is the unchangeable word, eternal reality of you who is the form Job wished to see you, carved in stone and filled with a lead unchangeable form forever.

From Hebrews 1:3c: I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: Your grace in Christ to the world in general. For here you reveal that he is the Sustainer of natural creation by the word of his power. I praise you that he sustains the world in order that his revelation that you gave him might be fully disclosed. How great are your works through him. For his full revelation works out for the the final victory over Satan and wickedness unto the creation of the new heavens and earth. Even more glorious is the completion of his body and acquire of the redeemed. Which will replace Satan's hard rock of brash rebellion and deceitful self-righteousness with the Howe loses of redemption and the beauty of the great Trinity in holiness.

From Hebrews 1:3d: I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: the seating of the Lord Jesus at your right hand in heaven. For seating space that his redemptive work is finished and completed meeting only to be utilize. It also speaks of the work of propitiation for men's sins and provision for our complete reconciliation -- that is cry on the cross "it is finished" is received by you in the glory of his resurrection exaltation and that in him have complete acceptance in your side as you said in Colossians 1:20 1, 22.

“ having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:4 NKJV

Father, I thank and praise You for the name given Him of supreme honor because He cleansed away all the stains of not only all believer’s sins, but mine as well. Only as Emmanuel could He do this, therefore, He is rightly in the place of supreme honor in Heaven, but also in my heart!

I thank You that His cry on the cross: “It is finished” is received by You. With His resurrection, believers can rejoice and be filled with glory, knowing that He has made us accepted even in Your glorious presence!

Oh, the wonder of His other names: Emmanuel, Christ, the Great Shepherd, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. What wonder must be the secret Name that the Father has given Him! They only are descriptive adjectives of Who and What He is and can do!

A second installment:

“Father, I thank and praise You for the greatness of Jesus Name. It represents the supreme greatness of His Person and gospel work. Therefore, I have confidence in His Words, His promises, commands and prophecies. For what angel has so powerful a name as Jesus: For You Father, have made the angels, however great, to worship Him at the time His Name is proclaimed, they fall on their faces (Phil 2:9-11)! The angels will do it because as Emmanuel, He is God incarnate.

But for me, as one of the redeemed, our worship is because: He has saved His people from their sins?
The angels can sing with power: “How great you are!” But they cannot sing with the saints with the joy of the song of the redeemed!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Two Words

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 NASU

Two words have functioned as keys that open future possibilities. The great two are, "I believe."

Action words will accomplish only according to the context of what is said or embraced! When Satan tempted Eve, she fell into sin affecting all their children from then until now. When she considered Satan’s deceit, she was persuaded saying in her heart: “I believe!” In so doing she was saying: “I disbelieve” to God and rejected His warning! As long as her attitude towards God was: “I believe,” the paradise of the Garden of Eden was her home! When she in her actions said: “I believe” to Satan to become her own little god, she found her home was the desert and Adam, her husband became a disinherited, worn out farmer.

When Adam and Eve said to God: “We’re naked!” God responded by giving them animal skins for clothing. The animal’s life was taken thereby, and became a prototype of animals being used as a means of reconciling man to God for the forgiveness of sins and worshiping God. Therefore, the reason Abel’s animal sacrifice was accepted by God, and Cain’s rejected. For “. . without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Because the result of sin is death, the death of the sacrifice animal was their substitute (Heb 9:22). Abel learned from their parents, but Cain was self- centered and so substituted his works, i.e., fruit of the ground.

In prophetic type, the sacrifice animal was picturing Christ as the Lamb of God. So as a God given type, Able was demonstrating faith in Christ and His sacrificial payment for his sins and sin nature. Even the mentioning of the offering of the fat portions was speaking of reliance on the reserve energy of Christ to carry through what was begun in His death to finish the reconciliation started in His sacrificial death.

While Able typlified believers of all ages who would say those key words to God: “I believe!” Cain typlified the ones who want reconciliation with God on their terms, i.e., by what they do. Thereby they reject God’s provision and suffer the consequences. In the New Testament days, the Jewish teachers were like Cain, they substituted their traditions for God’s Word’s instructions and provisions. Thereby they died in their sins and the nation they lead went into captivity for 2000 years! In the times before the Babylonian captivity, their self will and religious passion substituted idols and other gods for the LORD. Then they only suffer captivity for 70 years, Why? They crucified their Messiah and refused the re-offer of the Kingdom!

When religious traditions become authoritative, they minimize and often replace God’s Word and are like Cain’s offering the fruit of his hands. But instead of adopting a graven or molded idol, they in effect went back to Satan’s exhortation to Eve to take on intellect instead of God’s Word, in effect making herself and themselves their own god! This is what intellectual atheists do in our times, in their intellectual reasoning, they make either themselves or the intellectual community their substitute god!
The foolishness of this is illustrated by a story my Dad used on these types of persons. “ The intellectual atheist scientist was conversing with God on his idea of the faulty construction he saw in nature, God’s work. He boasted that he could do a better job. God said prove it by making just a little speck of dirt! The Atheist scientist said, ‘OK, all I need is something to make it out of!’ God said, ‘Why? I didn’t have any!’” For He created the universe out of nothing else than His decree!

The basic premise of this discussion began with these words: “Two words function as keys to accomplishment when used to direct future experience. Action words will accomplish only according to the context in which they are said or embraced!”

When Eve said in her heart to Satan’s solicitations to acquire forbidden wisdom to use to make her life according to her desires: “I believe!” The consequences were: first, her spiritual death and that of Adam, her husband and their children.

In Ephesians 2:1-3, the nature of this spiritual death is described:

1. Their state was death in sins and trespasses that alienated them from God Who alone posses immortal life.

2. Natural human life had its lifestyle dominated by Satan in the worldly culture that appeals to them, so becoming “sons of disobedience!”

3. Without redemption, the result of human lusts changed their personalities into children of wrath. These not only no longer resisted the sinful desires of their fallen natures, but would cultivate and pursue their fulfillments thus were like fish on Satan’s nets. They had “no hope” of avoiding God’s wrath and eternity in Satan’s future home of hell fire!

But then, the almighty two words were given in the face this hopeless doom! “But God!” (Eph 2:4a). The richness of these two word is briefly stated after those wonderful two words: “But God!”

“. . who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-7 NKJV). But all this is conditioned on the two life changing words that each must emphatically say in one’s heart!

It is in accord to what God is and how they are united to Christ!

How can a person say those required words, if they do not conceive God as infinitely “rich in mercy!” How “rich in mercy” is He?

He is “rich in mercy” according to the love that sent Christ into the world in human flesh to die a humanly agonizing death climaxed by His divine suffering under God’s punishment for all people that have lived and will live, that is, our Hell suffered in a few minutes.

This was so severe that Jesus cried out the words of agony: “My God, my God, WHY have you forsaken Me !” (Matt 27:46). All humans have the answer: It was to give provisional forgiveness to all, even those who will not give those two key words with all their hearts! This love is how great God’s mercy is to hopeless children of disobedience and wrath!

But this is only begins His redemptive mercy and love! It is compounded by the future in the richness of being in Christ. They are not only delivered from the wrath due them, but with these unspeakably wonderful words of the eternal future realization:

“. . raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, . .” (Eph 2:6, 7 NKJV). While there the experience will be: “. . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:7 NKJV). But it will only begin to be appreciated after Christians get there!

All this and more is contingent upon each person saying to God those crucial words with all their heart: “I believe!”

Why is this true according to this Scripture? “For by grace you have been saved through faith,. .” (Eph 2:8 NKJV). The vehicle of grace, God’s mercy, is personal faith, i.e., the “I believe!”

The “I believe!” is not only the key to receiving God’s mercy for us, but is God’s key to His work in us, so that we become “His workmanship” that continues through a life of faith: “. . through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8, 9 NKJV).

This faith is not just an arbitrary gift of God that just appears without the instrument of our choice. For God created us in His image as accountable sovereigns.

Faith is a God given gift through the means He makes available to us! Jesus reveals this means as the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 2 Peter 1:4). For as we respond to the stimulus through both blessings and trials, we are matured and changed (James 1:2-4). For the salvation and transformation experience of faith comes from Christ’s description of being His by “ . . My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, . .” (John 10:27, 28 NASU).
This life continues as we keep our focus on Him by the Holy Spirit’s work: “. . we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
(2 Cor 3:18 NASU).

As Hebrews12:2 describes this responsive sanctifying walk of faith: “. . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,” This is the consistent result of saying to God and His promises: “I believe!”

In this way of obedience of faith God’s promises and purposes to and in us our experience can like Paul’s:

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-15 NASU).

Just remember and apply those two key words that changes everything:

“I believe!”

Monday, March 2, 2015

Evidence of Rebirth

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

“. . . that you may know that you have eternal life, . .”1 John
(All Scripture cited from the New King James Version.)

Human beings have had this desire as throughout  recorded history. The ancient Pyramids of Egypt were built with elaborate burial hieroglyphics and embalming in the hope of a good after life. Radicals commit suicide in deadly attacks to gain Islamic heaven. Monks live extreme lifestyles in the hope of a good after life.

The Lord Jesus encouraged His hearers to seek certainty about their eternal future with many exhortations. One of the most blunt is found in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, . .”

A review of the following Scriptures are given to help the sincere seeker to find certainty from God’s Word.

Repents of known sin
“ . . godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; . .” 2 Corinthians 7:10

Trusts in Christ
Has rested in Christ and ceased working for salvation: “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Hebrews 4:10

“. . For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24, 25

Loves the Lord Jesus
“If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!”
1 Corinthians 16:22

Loves Jesus as He requires:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” John 14:21

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

And: “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me
not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:10, 11

Therefore: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin (practice - Greek present tense), for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 3:9

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-3

Also: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

With this promised blessing:
“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’" 1 Corinthians 2:9

Therefore, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14

Jesus said: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, . .” John 15:16

To the reader who is not sure of your rebirth Jesus gives the way to find certainty to what faith you have: He said:

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They answered Him,"We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, 'You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:31-36

For God has: “. . given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4