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Against the Lord, There is No Defense.

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.
– Obadiah 1:3-4

By Agur Israel Thomas
20 August, 2020

You don’t have to be in the military to know this, but in case you do not, ask anyone in the infantry, what is the most ideal topography to defend, and they’ll all say that it is the mountains.

The reason for that answer is because of height, slope, and size. Height gives an all-around view of the battlefield: no one can approach without being seen. Slope negates speed and impact of the attack as no matter how fast and powerful the force, they’re also fighting against gravity. Finally, the size of the mountain will surely tire even the strongest of men. There is an added advantage to mountains more relevant today, and that is cover and concealment.

The sheer ruggedness of the Afghan mountains offered the Mujihadeen and the Taliban greater protection and enabled them to hide and move almost unseen because the face of the mountains are covered with boulders and clefts. Soviet in the 1980’s and Americans and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) struggled against them because it is all but impossible to see, find, and kill them. Often caught in an ambush, they often resorted to calling artillary and airstrikes to surpress until the attackers withdraw.

And all this Edom enjoyed. Their sense of security is something we also feel in the United States as the oceans separates us from the rest of the world, our land is almost as large as China, and our neighbors are nowhere near as powerful as we are. But a state, no matter how powerful or secure, is not always destroyed by outside forces as it can be destroyed inwardly. And God, who have created all can eliminate all key factors of that country’s source of safety, strength, and prosperity.

In the case for Edom, though they’ve dwelled in the mountains will not gaurantee them victory or survival, and histroy bore that out with the Babylonian invasion led by Nebuchadnzzar, followed by Persia. God promised judgment and He delivered.

For us today, as Americans, it is easy for us to feel invulnerable just like the Edomites for the aforementioned reasons. but the destruction of the state doesn’t always come from outside of our borders. The finest example of this is Rome.

IMAGE SOURCE:
ID 2904101 © David Solodar | Dreamstime.com https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/jordanian-valley-4-2904101.jpg

What Is The Gospel of Jesus Christ?

https://www.sermonaudio.com/solo/gracefamilybaptist/sermons/42511113392/

Of all the teachings of scripture, this is by far the most important thing you should ever learn.

The Gospel, which means Good News, is Jesus Christ which is His life, death, and resurrection. However, I will only share the essential parts of the Gospel which comes in fours:

1. Who God is
2. What Man is before God
3. Jesus Christ
4. Promise

Some of you who are Christians would recognize this pattern coming from the Four Spiritual Laws. The difference between the Four Spiritual Laws and this is that what I’ve written is that it is a much deeper version of it. And the biggest difference is #1 on the above list. It is also differentiated from the other gospel presentations like “The Romans Road”, and “Five Things God Wants You To Know”.

My mentor who taught me this Gospel version called it the, “Four Truths of the Gospel”; and credit also to Paul Washer as, thanks to watching his videos, have learnt much on the character of God.

Who God Is

The Bible says that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), and that He alone is true (John 17:3). He is eternal and having no beginning and will have no end (Psalms 90:2). He is unchanging (Malachi 3:6). And by His very nature is good (Psalms 136:1), and so He is described by the following verse:

And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
– Exodus 34

However, in His goodness He is also by nature, holy and just. He is holy in that must be separate from evil, nor can He allow evil doers in His presence (Psalms 5:4-5). Not only that He is just; any sign of evil He must eliminate, and the guilty He must punish:

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 34:7

He has, by inspired men, written the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21), and it contained His commandments; His standard of righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Whoever want to enter into His kingdom must be morally perfect or complete (Matthew 5:20). To break or fail to keep any of His commandments is to sin, to miss the mark or fall short of His righteousness (James 2:10 & 4:17).

What Man is Before God

Man was created in His image as a physical reflection of His creative attributes and wisdom; man was created for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). But because Adam and Eve sinned, man has become a sinner by nature. He is not only tempted to sin, but an inclination to sin for his mind is bent on it (Genesis 8:21 & Romans 6:16, & 8:6-7). He neither cares for, or understands the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

To sin is an act of rebellion against God. the sin that was committed cannot be compensated, so good works (increased obedience, penance, sacrifices, etc) can never be enough (Isaiah 64:6).

And so because of his constant rebellion against Him, God in His just wrath will judge him according to his evil deeds (Romans 1:18-23). His good works will not count (Isaiah 64:6), but will answer to every sin committed (1 Peter 4:4-5). Then he will be sentenced to Hell (Revelations 20:12-15) for an eternity, and there will be no escape (Matthew 25:41-46 & Luke 16:26).

If you’re wondering why God cannot just forgive when we ask it; the problem is that for Him to do that is an abomination as the bible said:

15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.
– Proverbs 17:15

The price has to be paid (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).

Enter, Jesus Christ

But because of His love for us, He sent His only Son down from heaven to save us. Jesus existed before time began; he is fully God (Isaiah 48:16-17 & John 1:1-3), and fully man when He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 & John 1:14). He is the promised messiah; born in the line of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Matthew 1), and He will come as a man, born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).

Although He is the promised king , He must first come as a suffering servant (Isaiah 53:1-4) with two goals to complete: To fulfill the law (Deuteronomy 18:18 & Matthew 5:17-20) He was at all points tempted, but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15); He alone have kept all of the commandments.

Finally, He must suffer and die (Genesis 3:15, & Isaiah 53:5-6 Daniel 9:26), so that He can redeem us (Psalms 130:7-8 & Isaiah 59:20) For our sin and our salvation He bore our sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, 10, & 2 Corinthians 5:21). He was mocked and beaten (Matthew 27:30); scourged (Mark 15:15), and was led to the cross to be crucified (Psalms 22:16 & Luke 23:26, 33). There, He finished the cup of God’s wrath (Matthew 26:38-39 & 27:46). On the 6th hour He died; God’s wrath was ended (Luke 23:44 & John 19:30).

In three days, He rose again from the dead (John 20) as prophesied (Psalms 16:10 & John 2:19-21). He has ascended to heaven, and He will soon return (Acts 1:10-11).

The Promise

I have said before that God cannot forgive sins; the price must be paid. Jesus paid that price, and now He can justify you.

The way to be saved is simple, repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). To repent means to change your mind and heart against sin, to no longer live in it; and to believe is to trust in the message of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-5); and that Jesus saves and His sacrifice* is enough. Surrender to Jesus and make Him your Lord.

The Bible promised that when you believe, you have eternal life (John 5:24). This gift of eternal life one can never lose (John 6:37-39), because it is not you who have now the power to keep it but God alone (John 10:28-30). He will bring you to heaven (Philippians 1:6).

The Bible also says that you will change, fundamentally. Formerly your mind is bent towards sin, but after you’re saved you will become a “new creature” which means you are a new person with a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). And as a new creature you are now a slave to righteousness whereas before, a slave to sin (Romans 6:16-18). The slave to sin hates righteousness, but the slave to righteousness loves it; and though you will continue to struggle against sin, it will not have mastery over you (Romans 6:14).

For New Believers

After you’ve accepted Jesus as your Lord and savior, you need to do

1. Buy a bible if you don’t have one. The best bibles to buy is the English Standard Version, or any “Word-for-Word” version of scripture Find a Bible-Believing church

2. Read the whole bible, starting with the Gospel of John (or any of the Gospels. i.e., Matthew, Mark, or Luke) until you reach the book of Revelation. Then, start on Genesis and read all the way to Revelation. Read it with care, read it often, and do not stop reading it as it will equip and strengthen you (2 Timothy 2:15, & 3:16-17).

3. Find a Bible believing church* (congregation); fellowship in and serve it (Romans 12:4-17). A bible believing church is a church that believes that the scriptures is inerrant and inspired. It is also Evangelical, meaning that it is a church that believes in
a) The Four Solas (which I will write about soon)
b) In studying theology (John 17:3)
c) The necessity of modesty, purity, and holiness
d) The spreading and defending the Gospel

4. Pray, as often as you can
a) Pray to God for His guidance, strength, wisdom, and will to do what is right in His eyes through the scriptures
b) Pray for you to understand His words, and the will to obey it
c) Pray for discernment so that you can spot error and avoid it
d) Pray for others. Make a list for everyone you want to pray for

*NOTE:

  • The sacrifice is in reference to animal sacrifices which act as a stand-in for the guilty. When Jesus died, He fulfilled the laws and the Prophets. On the cross He died as if He was the law breaker (Deuteronomy 21:22-23) deserving every curses in the book (Deuteronomy 27:15-25, 26). He was our propitiation, our scapegoat and substitute for our sins. He was the the stand-in, the spotless Lamb to be slaughtered. When Adam and Eve sinned an animal was killed in their place (Genesis 3:21). This continued with animal sacrifices instituted by Moses (Leviticus 5:1-9 & 9:1-7); the sacrifices covered but could truly pay for their sins (Hebrews 10:4). Jesus is the perfect and final sacrifice for sins, and He had accomplished for us, forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 17-18).
  • The word “Church” means those who are “called out” of the world (Ephesians 2:2-3 & 1 John 2:15-16). The Church is not a building or a club membership, but are made up of true believers in Christ; they are the body of Christ (1 Timothy 3:15). Today, church is synonymous with the word “Congregation”; a place where people congregate or gather together. As you read scripture, you will learn about Sheep and Goats; those who believe and those who do not.
  • There is a 5th Sola I will also write later, and I believed it to be very biblical but essential for believers to accept.

Biblical Baptism (Part 3-3): The Errors of Baptismal Regeneration, Continued.

Acts 22:16

16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

In actuality, Baptism does not wash away sins, but then why was Paul instructed to get baptized “… and wash away thy sins…”? Look at the underlined words and look at the following passage:

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
– Romans 10

Now read this: “… and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” I believe that the word “By” is implied here so as to read as “… and wash away thy sins, (by) calling on the name of the Lord.” By reading it as I put it, it harmonizes well with the overall context of salvation in terms of salvific methodology. One is saved by Faith Alone,

Romans 6:3-4

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

In showing this passage, they, the supporters of BR says that by being Baptized the person mystically participates in His death, burial, and resurrection and so the recipient is saved, regenerated which also washed his/her sins are washed away.

However, the context (6:4-7) indicates that this is not to be taken literally as it speaks of it in a spiritual sense. Recall that in Part 1 that the root word for Baptism (Gk: Baptizo) means “To be identified with”.

Romans 6:3 is really about the fact that when the Roman believers are Baptized, they were identified with Christ. By undergoing Baptism they’re showing the world the change wrought within them. So how can they go on sinning when they’re supposed to be changed believers? Their continued sinning send a contrary message that they are not.

Later, Paul said that sinners are a slave to sin. So when they do they’re either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness, thankfully, they’re not but a slave to the latter (6:13-18).

Colossians 2:12

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

This is in a similar language of Romans 6:3-7 so this should not be taken literally. Not only that, see the proceeding context:

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

So, if Baptism here is to be taken literally then why did verse 11 say “… ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands….”? What Colossians 2:12 is really saying is that the Colossians believers were regenerated spiritually. If vs 12 really did speak of the ordinance of Baptism, then our regeneration would be by hands and yet vs 11 contradicts that notion.

2 Peter 3:21

21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The first question to be asked about this is, “What is it that Baptism saves us from”? It is in reference to Noah when he was saved by water in vs. 19-20 which should strike one as odd. Supporters of BR believes that Baptism saves yet the proceeding verses speaks of the water saving Noah by destroying all of the inhabitants.

What is being spoken of here is having a peace of mind, saved from worry, that one is saved from judgment. So when we were Baptized as believers, it reminds us of the fact that we’re saved from the judgment and wrath of God. That is why it says the latter verse of 21 “… (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”

And when it says, “… by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”, it speaks of His work of regeneration alone… and not ours. Back to Colossians 2:11, we are circumcised made without hands and so this is no different.

Concluding Notes

If you are new to bible reading and/or apologetics, you will notice a commonality with how I’ve answered each verse, and that commonality is the use of context. the context of scripture is the most important thing with regard to proper interpretation.

That is how scriptures are answered, not just doctrinal issued claimed to be biblical such as Unitarianism, Hebrew Roots, and of course, Baptismal Regeneration but alleged Bible Contradictions as well as to explain disturbing events such as the annihilation of the people of Canaan, the practice of slavery in Israel, and the suffering and loss of Job.

The first book that should take as priority for apologetics study is not “Kingdom of the Cults” by Norman Geissler*, nor is it the “Case for Christ” series by Lee Strobel, but the Holy Scriptures. the Bible. This is true for all other areas of study whether it be for holiness and purity; for the running of the church; for the missions field, or for the raising of the family; the Bible takes precedence over all. The Bible, and the Bible alone decides what is to be established, what is to be kept, and what is to be rejected.

The Bible is God’s word.

12 The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.

19 That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
– Proverbs 22:12, 19-21, 30:5-6

CORRECTION: The author of “The Kingdom of the Cults” is Dr. Walter Martin, not Norman Geisler.

Biblical Baptism (Part 2-3): The Errors of Baptismal Regeneration.

The following seven verses are ones most commonly used by Cults and others to support BR. Some of the BR passage are not to be taken literally as the context proved while others are mere commands as you’ll soon see. Three of them are featured here and the remaining four will be on Part 3.

Mark 16:16

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Here, the latter part of the passage is key. If one must be baptized to be saved why was it not repeated at the latter end?

Also, there is this notion called “Hebrew Parallelism” where if a speaker or writer wanted to give a special emphasis then s/he would repeat the statement whereas with us we would either underscore, highlight, italicize, or put it in CAPS. Jesus as a Jew used Hebrew Parallelism Himself.

In addition, Baptism is a command for every new believer to undergo. It is, as said previously in Part 1, that it is a symbol of set apartness; a public… declaration of the change within and an identification of him/herself as a Christian.. If one refuses to be baptized, then is s/he ashamed of Jesus? Does s/he truly believe?

John 3:5

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

It is my contention that water in this verse really means Spirit because of the following context:

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

I’ll put it this way, if one is a human being is because he is born from a human being, then how can water make one born again? Water is a physical property whereas the spirit does not have any.

Furthermore, if Jesus is telling us to be water baptized in order to be born again, then why in verse 8 does it speak of its unpredictability? Should it not be that when one is baptized the person is immediately born again?

The reason why Jesus paired “Water” with the “Spirit” is because it is an another example of Hebrew Parallelism; He is emphasizing to Nicodemus that the person needs to be born from above (vs. 3). This is in total harmony with an earlier passage which says:

12 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:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
– John 1

Acts 2:38

The most go-to passages for the supporters of BR is Acts 2:38 which says:

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
– Acts 2

If it is to be taken in strict isolation, then it would most likely prove the argument for BR. However, there is no indication that it should be done. So how is this not a support for BR? Look at the preceding verse 37.

First, the Bible says that they, the visiting Jews, were “cut to the heart” after listening to Peter (vs. 14-36). The words in quotation indicated that they believed as they just evidenced “Godly Sorrow” (2 Corinthians 7:10). It was then that Peter gave his instructions to them.

Second, look at the word “For” in verse 38, it does not always mean “In order to”, for context already given. It is thus more appropriate to interpret “For” as “Because of”. This notion is supported by other passages using the same word, . For example, Matthew 3:11; did John baptize people in order for them to repent or because of their repentance?

Biblical Baptism (Part 1-3): What Is It?

The following is an answer I’ve given to a brother or a sister concerning the rite of Baptism:

“….

Baptism is definitely a show that a person is a believer (which, like circumcision, naturally identifies and sets him/her apart from the world), but it is a demonstration of what happened to him/her on the inside, […] Not only that, it is an illustration of the Gospel.”


The History of Baptism

“…. Baptism was originally part of a ceremonial rite of healing and purification (Leviticus 15:1-5 & Numbers 19:1-9). Later it was used to heal Namaan the Syrian General inflicted with Leprosy (2 Kings 5:1, 10, 14).

This is the most important passage with regard to baptism because leprosy symbolizes what sin is to God. A leper’s body is a body with little skin left because s/he scratched/tore his/her skin away because Leprosy took away any feeling of pain. So the Leper when you look at him/her they are “covered” with pus and blood and rotting flesh. They also stink of it. It is naturally repulsive and putrid to us, imagine how sin is to God, but more so for sin is evil and an act of rebellion against Him. ….”

The Christian’s Baptism

“…. The final unique use of Baptism prior to Christian Baptism is through John the Baptist as he used to as a show of repentance, but when Jesus came, Baptism began to have a new meaning:

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
– Matthew 3

Water came to symbolize the Holy Spirit.

Additionally, after His death and resurrection it came to symbolize is death, burial, and resurrection:

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
– Romans 6

My first teacher/mentor taught me the following. The root word for Baptism (Gk: Baptizo) means “To be identified with”. Like dipping white cloth to red ink, when one undergoes baptism, the person is identified with Christ, and the act of Baptism illustrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. As a side note, this is why I’m for full immersion rather than pouring.”

The Errors of Baptismal Regeneration

The most common heresy that cults teach is called, “Baptismal Regeneration” (BR) which they claimed that once a person is baptized s/he is Born Again. However, there are host problems that proponents of must account for

  1. The Bible is absolutely clear that salvation is gained by Faith Alone (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  2. Faith is an intellectual and a conscience act (Romans 10:17) act whereas Baptism is a rite, therefore, a work.
  3. Baptismal passages used by the proponents of Baptismal Regeneration is often taken out of context.
  4. And even if the context doesn’t answer for it, there is a hermaneutical that needs to be followed “The obscure must yield to the clear”. There are more passages for Faith Alone (FA) than there are BR; not only that, FA is absolutely clear in rendering.

In Parts 2 & 3 I will answer the most commonly used verses to support that heresy.

The Theology & Purpose of Suffering (Part 1-2): Causes.

29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
– 1 Peter 1

10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
– Job 2

71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
– Psalms 119

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
– Romans 5

10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
– Job 23

On Suffering

Have you heard of the saying, that if life gives you lemons make a lemonade? This is certainly true except that is not life that gives it but God. God is sovereign over all (Proverbs 16:33). And if God is sovereign over all, then He ordained or allowed suffering for His purpose (Isaiah 45:7).

With that there are two reasons why God allows or ordains suffering

1. Penal
2, Consequential

The Origin of Suffering

Penal suffering is suffering caused by God as a penalty for a sin committed. This first occurred when Adam and Eve sinned against the LORD. Since they were the genesis of humanity, physical (Genesis 6:3) and spiritual death (Romans 5:12-14) became their penalty. Consequential suffering on the other hand is caused by a deliberate act which would have a ripple effect.

When sin entered into the world it directly affected creation. Adam sinned and God cursed the ground as now he must toil hard for food (Genesis 3:17-19). However, the curse also had a ripple effect The affect ranged from diseases to natural disasters. Animals and other organisms were also affected. For example. before Adam’s sin there was no death, but after his sin animals also would die and some became carnivorous, including man.

The affect was such that the Bible says:

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
– Romans 8

The Believer’s Suffering

Believers are not exempt of suffering. When they have become regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and they are changed from within, they still retain the nature to rebel only now they have a new nature (Romans 8:6-7. 2 Corinthians 5:17). We will continue to experience both types suffering until we die, or that Jesus returns.

However, there is another reason why we suffer and it is for our perfection.

Suffering has a way of purifying us as a sword blade made in the furnace. The iron billet is heated until it is red hot so as to become malleable, and in the process expose impurities; then it is beaten into shape, then heated again. The process continues until it is shaped as intended, hardened, then made razor sharp. What was once an iron billet became a steel sword fit for battle.

In one of the most important Christian documentary of our time, American Gospel: Christ Alone, Steve Lawson in speaking about suffering in the light of the dangers of the Word of Faith Movement said this with regard of suffering:

“God has purposes in our suffering: to humble us, to conform us into the image of Christ, to weine us off from the world, to purify us, to help us identify with others who are suffering”

The Theology & Purpose of Suffering (Part 2-2): Paul, an Example of.

In Philippians 4:13 so many of us mistook that passage as a means to accomplish any endeavor; whether it be in academia, in sports, or in the work force. That is the consequence of someone isolating the passage and interpreting it differently. The actual meaning of that verse came from the following:

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
– Philippians 4

It has never been about accomplishing one’s goals, but to adapt to and overcome adversity through Christ who strengthened him. It was through Paul’s suffering that made him stronger, and when he is in want of strength Christ strengthened him.

The Thorn in the Flesh

Paul experienced more than just hunger and poverty.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
– 2 Corinthians 12

When Paul mentioned the “…thorn in the flesh….”, he wasn’t referring to any physical or mental ailment. In a sermon by John MacArthur, the thorn Paul was referring to was suffering which he detailed in the previous chapter (Ibid 11:23-28).

He risked the dangers associated with travel from robbers to storms in the open sea, and experienced persecution from both the Jews and Gentiles. He was whipped five times, ship wrecked thrice, and beaten with rods thrice. He was often cold, wet, and hungry; and on top of all this, he must care of the church. His “Thorn” was meant to keep him from exalting himself.

Paul has every reason to exalt himself as not only he has seen the Lord (Acts 9), but received visions no one else saw but himself. But he refused to use that as a thing of pride (2 Corinthians 12:1-5). His suffering was so terrible he besought the Lord thrice, but Jesus answered to him “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”. Thus, he took pleasure in the aforementioned thorn, “… for when I am weak, then I am strong”.

If we suffer, it is for our ultimate good. Even when it seemed meaningless, it is not.

John Piper. None of Our Suffering is Meaningless. Desiring God. Youtube.com, 07-09-2018.

Source
1. Brandon Kimbar. “American Gospel: Christ Alone” Giant Interactive Studio, Accessed: 01-15-2019
2. John MacArthur. “Strength Perfected in Weakness”. Grace to You, Youtube.com, 03-18-2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a37h5-fLNBk
3. John Piper. None of Our Suffering is Meaningless. Desiring God. Youtube.com, 07-09-2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=709s0O44Ois

The Most Neglected Parts of the Gospel (Part 2-2): Who We Are Before God.

As earlier mentioned the three popular Gospel presentations lacked any detail on God, and also the tracts and booklets earlier described. But not only the former lacked any truth on God but anemic on the issue of sin. All three tracts made only simple statements that we’re sinners as we’ve broken God’s laws, using Romans 3:23 and 6:23.

It is understandable that information needs to be short because in street evangelism not everyone has the time to listen but only the time to receive tracts, but again, a great many believers were only taught those and not anything else.

The Sign of Genuine Conversion.

If you’re familiar with the Four Spiritual Laws, you should already recognize that the second law is already being discussed, though partially in Part 1. Sinners are not saved by their decision alone, and it is more than mere intellectual acceptance of facts and notions.

The Bible says that godly sorrow works repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10), Now how can we convince unbelievers how depraved they really are and the justness of eternal punishment unless they know who they are before God?

To do that, they must be compared to Him through the laws of God (Romans 2:17-24). The following video done by Ray Comfort does that very well through “The Way of the Master” presentation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZdv-TtiMkg&list=PL26524DA9664D92C5&index=16

Ray used the 10 Commandments as did Jesus in Matthew 5:17-48, and asked him if he had broken any of the commandments listed. If the person said yes to any, then give him the honest truth about his eternal state: that by his own admission he is guilty, and will be judged before a holy and just God.

The Beneficial Effects of Knowing Self.

When God is sufficiently taught, it gives the exposition of the law greater impact for they’re not just sinning against someone and the scriptures, but God Himself (Psalms 51:4). And when they have realized their total depravity (Genesis 8:21, 5:12-16, & 8:6-7), they will know three things:

1. How guilty they are before God (Romans 3:9-18)
2. Their total inability to save themselves (Matthew 19:16-26 & Romans 3:19-20)
3. Their sheer need for the savior

And when they’re introduce Jesus, if they truly believe, they will not just say “Yes” they will embrace Him with thankfulness, The life, death, and resurrection of Christ will be most magnificent to them because of the price He paid… knowing how deserving they really are for eternal damnation.

And when they’re saved they will love Him all the more:

47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
– Luke 7

19 We love him, because he first loved us.
– 1 John 4

Resources.

The Way of the Master, pioneered by Ray Comfort, is one of the best way to share the Gospel. He does not go into detail who God is but what he shared of God is enough because he presented God as the just judge who must punish the guilty.

The following is a link to resources you can use to help in your effort to share the Gospel:

https://www.livingwaters.com/outreach/way-of-the-master/

Another resources you can use are books authored by Paul Washer which is already introduced on Part 1.

The Most Neglected Parts of the Gospel (Part 1-2): Who God Is.

It is a surprising and shameful thing that God has been neglected in all of the most popular Gospel presentations. I believe that the chiefest reason for this is evangelical pragmatism that had its origin with the Billy Graham Crusades.

Billy Graham meant well when he ignores doctrinal distinctions for the sake of reaching the lost through the Gospel, but in doing so sow the seeds of pragmatism.

Quantitative vs Qualitative Evangelism

With such an emphasis in Gospel dissemination, Matthew 28:20 is all but forgotten. Tracts were made that was quick and easy to read. First among them were Chick Tracts which were comic booklets which in the end, underscores the seriousness of sin, the awfulness of Hell, and how Jesus saves.

Others came in pamphlets but generally without stories. If you go to Pinpoint Gospel Tracts (https://store.gospeltract.org/Free-Gospel-Tracts_ep_43.html) you will see tracts that were made earlier but still very well used. Between the two, I recommend the former*.

Unfortunately, newer Gospel presentations such as the Four Spiritual Laws, 5 Things God Wants you to Know, and the Romans Road shows a greatly reduced Gospel in very short paragraphs. Those tracts simply tells its readers that they’re sinners, and that they can be forgiven for their sins, but does not tell readers WHY the bible calls them sinners in the first place.

Worse, students in school clubs are often taught only the contents in those tracts.

It is not enough to say that the Bible said it, and then claim that the Bible is inspired and infallible. They need to understand what makes them sinners in the first place, how serious sin really is, and why sinners are sent to Hell for an eternity thus their need for a savior.

They cannot know truly, the whys and the wherefores, unless they know God Himself.

The Character of God.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
– John 17:3

And all of the tracts I’ve mentioned virtually neglected Him in that respect.

So why sin is so serious and the consequence so severe? Because God is Good. Now we read that and think “Of course! He is good, that’s why He loves us sending His son down on the cross for our salvation.” But we’ve forgotten the other meanings:

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

God is good therefore He is love, but He is also Holy and Just as well. So when He sees sin it is abhorrent to Him, and in His Holiness He cannot allow sinners into His presence (Psalms 5:4-5). He cannot be with sin, and He will not hear their prayers (Habakkuk 1:13).

God is so good that He requires moral perfection (Matthew 5:20). So to sin but once is to violate all of the commandments (James 2:10). One might ask “Why can’t He just forgive us”? Paul Washer made an important point in dealing with that question. If He were to do that, then He would be unjust, quoting the following verse:

15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.
– Proverbs 17

For Part 2, click here: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/107887481/posts/3126285931

Verses of Grace and Mercy Every True Believer can relate to.

 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
– Psalms 57

If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
– Psalms 130

11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
– Psalms 7

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
– 1 Corinthians 6

19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
– Lamentations 3

None of us deserve any measure of mercy.

To the question on why bad things happen to good people I believe RC Sproul answered “There are no good people”, just wicked vile people who deserve to go to the deepest part of hell. the better question to ask. says RC Sproul Jr is, why do bad things happen to good people (1)?

We are what we do; we are liars, adulterers, and murderers; dishonorable to our parents, coveters, and idolaters. The Bible says that there are none good, no not one (Romans 3:9-18). Such that we do, and so often that we do them that the Bible says He is angry with the wicked everyday.

Yet God in His love for us has done good things that we can all enjoy (Matthew 5:45). The food we get to eat, or the moment of peace we get to enjoy; the chance encounter with a long time friend, or an accidental happening to a co-worker we can all reminisce with laughter.

But there is a special kind of mercy reserved for the saved. That mercy is being spared from eternal damnation; for if none that are good, all deserve entry and stay in Hell. It is mercy none of us deserve, but by His Grace He sent His son down to be the propitiation for our sins.

His son took our place becoming sin, so that we can be the sons and daughters of God (Ephesians 1:5). He looks at us now as His children, and we can now say “Abba – Father” (Romans 8:15).



1. Why does God allow bad things happen to Good People? RC Sproul jr. Youtube.com June 6 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZN2EYKkzPQ

The Wonders of Learning, Vengeance, & the Election Theft.

Have you ever learned something, after years of reading scripture, and realized a truth that was missed, or seen truth in a new light? Pastors and theologians have said over and over that when we study scripture, we’re only scratching the surface. Not because it is impossible to understand, but because it is full of truths. Here is what I’ve read:

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
– Psalms 37

For a long time I thought that when one takes vengeance it is a singular act of sin. What I mean by that is that if someone I love is murdered, and I know who the murder is, then I would plan and avenge his/her death by committing the same act upon him.

But that is actually committing three sins: hatred, murder, and then vengeance which the Lord has said:

13 Thou shalt not kill.
– Exodus 20

21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
– Matthew 5

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
– Romans 12

As I’m completing this, my mind was on the storming of the Capital Hill building by fed-up Trump Supporters. Many of them very upset at what they believed to be the theft of the election by the Democrats. So many years of Liberal acts they consider are ruinous to the country spilled over into the building, managed to enter into the chamber, but eventually driven out by the Capital Police.

If this election was indeed stolen, the problem cannot be solved through violence. Give place to the LORD’s wrath, and trust that He will carry through justice.