Category Archives: The Difference Between

Eternal Security vs. Eternal Insecurity

Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you or forsake you.

Jesus said this. We can be sure He meant it, but that does not mean we may not end up in hell. In fact some individuals who have been to hell and back (it doesn’t happen often) tell us Jesus is there and people do indeed talk to Him. They are angry and rebellious, as you might suspect, but Jesus has not forsaken them – they have of Him.

John 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

Another promise. There are thousands of promises in the Bible and this is just as solid as any other, but there are people who jump OUT of his hand. The promise of salvation is not what God does, but depends on what you do. Your salvation depends on the unqualified acceptance of your sin and His redemption.

By the way, this is a lifetime experience. I was saved 50+ years ago and my level of understanding, experience, and dedication bears little resemblance to what it was so long ago. I have grown. God does not judge us on our level of sophistication in spiritual things. But only our attitude.

1 Samuel 16:7 – God looks on the heart.

We are saved by faith; but we are not necessarily damned by faithlessness.  One of Jesus’ contemporary’s asked him to “increase my faith.” That would be a good prayer for us all.

Churches (denominations and pastors) don’t decide who is in hell and who is not

The third point is this: NO church or denomination can tell you unqualifiedly that you are either going to hell or heaven. In order to do this they would need to travel to the afterlife and take a census, then return with their findings. There are some pretty scruffy characters who made it to heaven and some clean and washed up-standing citizens who are no where near heaven. These things, that is our destiny, are not decided by men.

No one should be insecure either

While a denomination cannot guarantee you “eternal security” neither should anyone fret and worry about “eternal insecurity.” God’s intention of the Bible is to set us free, not to keep us in bondage to an unknown future.

A woman named Kat Kerr has books and tapes about her frequent visits to heaven. She has pictures and tales about a happy and strange land of options, fun, travel, and excitement. On one of her tapes she records that a 18th century pirate repented and is now conducting pirate ship treasure hunts for our departed relatives if that is their pleasure.

Heaven gets a bad rap

This points out that what we are good at in life is what we can have in heaven. It also means that if you live like the devil, don’t be shocked if you end up dying like and with him too. Life is a preparation time for an eternity – the choice is yours. There is no dead-dull harp-playing on clouds and other nonsense. Heaven has goals and opportunities just as  life does; simply put, the distractions of sin are removed. That is why it is called heaven.

Don’t ask anyone to guarantee that you are heaven bound

One of my students told me recently – your students want you to guarantee them that they will go to heaven. I said, “Sadly I can’t do that.” The promise and assurance of salvation cannot and will not come through men or their doctrines. It is the warm assurance of our heavenly father who, through Bible study and prayer, gives us that. And it is a totally individual and personal experience.

If you are looking for eternal security, try reading John 10. I can do no better than the Lord in this matter. May you find His peace.

#heaven #hell #oncesavedalwayssaved

Absolutes vs. Anarchy

The late Corrie Ten Boom writes of her watchmaker-father who traveled regularly to Amsterdam to record the official timepiece of Holland and then return home to reset, correctly, all the clocks in his shop. On one such trip he inquired of the clock managers in Amsterdam how they verified the time. They said they always set their clocks by checking a little known watchmaker named Ten Boom who lived in a little town in the south. Naturally Mr. Ten Boom discontinued his trips to Amsterdam since he was setting their clocks.

How do you establish what is true

But what should they do? They could contact the Greenwich, England office which sets a standard for time by reference to a number of atomic clock organizations. That should do it. But let us speculate that a sunspot caused that electronic clock to lose a quarter of a second; then all three clocks would be wrong. All the official clocks in the world would be wrong as well.

Circular reasoning

I am going somewhere with this so stick with me. This is called circular reasoning because each individual is using another to set the standard. If we want truth, we must go outside ourselves to find it – to an eternal reference point untainted by error. But where is that?

Truth is outside

I have a Buddhist-Thai friend who pays no attention to her religion. She has no interest in Christianity or any other religion, simply saying that she will be in heaven because she knows she will be in heaven. Her family is Thai and she is Thai and that’s all she needs to know. But her reasoning about life (and I might add death) is circular. She allows others who may or may not know anything outside of themselves set her beliefs. Because Thai people have told her she is going to heaven that seems to be all she knows or cares to know. But of what value is that?

Absolute truth exists

Like the circular verification of the watchmakers there is no absolute reference point outside themselves. Truth is just what someone thinks and that can easily be wrong. The Chinese believe that the sheer numbers of people who believe something makes it true. Now try that with a group of people.  Let’s say a small town of all black people believes, as a unit, that they are all female. How can we do that? It is anti-science.  Think of Galileo here.  Do we jail people for agreeing with science? How can anyone say they are a different gender when science, i.e. DNA, tells the story for all the billions of souls on the planet.

Transgender is antiscience

Enter God. He is outside of everything. He knows. He alone can tell you if the watch of your life is set wrong, who you are and where you are going. There is no one as miserable as a person who allows other people to dictate who they are. This is called determinism which never allows you to change or grow.

Secular theorists bristle over the Judeo-Christian absolutes of a God and His Word. After all if there are absolutes and a God who made them then Man might just face a day of accountability.

Personal anarchy

Without those absolutes, individuals have a free rein of personal anarchy. The opposite of absolutes is the folly of allowing human kind to determine truth while knowing intrinsically that humans are flawed. To say that reality is not reality is the true definition of neuroses.

I worked in a juvenile prison and the most common thing I heard was, “That kid has a record.” Of course he did. They all did.

So I told the students, I don’t care what your record is. I want you to learn what is true about the good and potential in you, and how your life can be ruled. If you don’t rule yourself, the State will do it for you and that is a life of misery. Believing that your opinion is reality makes as much sense as planning a dental appointment for the year 2013.  It won’t happen; it can’t happen. Some of them heard me.

There are young people today who have this notion that they are another gender. This is not necessary. God knows who and what you are, so consult Him.

This is true for everyone. God can and will tell you who you are, where you are going and what you can do with your life. You may find someone who can help you along this line, but if not you are allowing people who don’t know the truth set the time of your life. And it may be wrong.

My own standard is the Holy Bible. I include all secular information which verifies God’s. It is my rock of belief. I am never disappointed.

The Difference between a Christian Life and an Obedient Life

We’re getting down to the wire here in the USA. We find a host of malcontents and anarchists on one side – a very vocal group, and on the other, an increasingly disgruntled class who want their country back. That means a return to civility in the public square, a modicum of morality and at least a little patriotism combined with a sense of community values and goals. This is what the Greatest Generation fought and died for.

This malaise happened while the great mass of American Baby Boomers were living the American dream and the standard Christian life. What went wrong?

The late Senator Jesse Helms (R. NC), not known for sweet speech, said this about the compromise eating away at our nation.

Compromise, hell! That’s what has happened to us all down the line — and that’s the very cause of our woes. If freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at a time?

https://www.azquotes.com/author/6533-Jesse_Helms

Helms’ slices were the loss of international bargaining power, the increase in entitlement spending, indulgences in wars and unwise treaties, and rising debt all of which impacts the family unit as a symptom of creeping socialism. Losing your nation one slice at a time can be applied to morality, the dumbing down of public education, the acid of inflation, loss of trust in our institutions, sports events and processes, even educational testing. Everything is on the skids.

There was a time of public formality when husband and wife addressed each other as Mister and Misses. Today small children come out with f-bombs at WalMart, in parking lots and on TV. Apparently there is no grandmother available to spank them, and spanking is also out of style.

The Christian Life plays by the rules

All this happened while Americans were living the Christian Life. But at the same time divorces increased, plus alcoholism, drug usage, reduced church attendance and even some Christian churches going rogue, dumping the Bible and personal moral behavior in order to match the personal lives of their parishioners. School demands deteriorated.

They raised their children to be good citizens, to finish their homework, to eat good nutrition, to attend a church, to learn the rules of an egalitarian society, to pay their taxes, to take vacations and live a balanced life. Parents were trying to keep the rules but they kept slipping out of their grasp. Living the Christian life by the book was not enough.

Obedience to God means getting your hands dirty

God’s command to us is to be change agents in a fallen world and when they did promote change they were seduced by compromise. Many who did run were gifted and well meaning, but they were lured by political forces into accommodating to others “to get things done.” It became a political stepping stone for ambitious people and the bologna was sliced a little thinner. For all the reforms they brought in, standards and consequently results deteriorated.

“Token” women, blacks and Hispanics, and more recently transgender and whatever, found themselves where they did not belong or where they could not be effective because the way we did business in every corner of life was politicized.

In contrast there is the obedient life.

The Obedient Life, in contrast, requires sacrifice such as Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi, or the brave little black kids who faced cat calls and possible physical violence entering a white school or college. Not all brave soldiers made the evening news; countless kids were fearful, and after the schools were segregated, all children also faced danger daily because so many people were resistant. Black and white parents were cautious and worried. The obedient life is not always open to public review; many suffered in silence.

The real Christian life costs you something. We look around for people to serve on committees or run for office or head important reform groups and we can’t find them. They’ll say “I’ll get the Kavanaugh treatment,” perhaps the most embarrassing drama to be seen on recent TV, which should be reviewed during every political season to expose the opportunists in Congress who showed their true stripes. (Bret Kavanaugh was publicly slandered without a shred of evidence from is critics, a major violation of his rights as a citizen.)https://www.theepochtimes.com/grassley-kavanaugh-probe-by-fbi-found-no-hint-of-misconduct_2678807.html

The word “to bork” is in the English language after Robert Bork’s reputation was dragged through the public mud, in spite of the fact that he had stellar qualifications. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bork_Supreme_Court_nomination

The Supreme Court is now the papacy of the secular humanism religion trading indulgences for votes from aggrieved groups.

How can we ask people to endanger themselves and their families especially when the basic tenants of jurisprudence were trashed in a torrent of accusations without a shred of evidence? Who would stand for office given that scenario? And yet that is just what Jesus would ask us to do.

Well we can, in Jesus’ Name we can. There is a sign on NC route 74 going west to Murphy through the mountains. It says this.

God said, “I sent someone to discover the cure for cancer but you aborted him.”

I wonder if God also has a sign that says, “I had candidates for office who would turn this country around but they refused to run. I had singers, and poets, and writers, who were willing to face public shame and humiliation to fight for the right but you would not support them, give them a job, or join with the crowd to
condemn them from some ill-defined sin.

And then there were those who said, “I’d rather not expose myself to that kind of public abuse.”

So God said, “How do you think Mary liked being thought a fallen woman when she had a baby out of wedlock, according to the gossipy women of her town? Don’t you think that hurt? That went on for years and then when Jesus died, they said, she deserved to lose her first born son for having that baby without a real father. She was an embarrassment to the Jewish faith and to Nazareth. And what about Joseph? Some men say, I’m not going to raise some other man’s baby.  But he did not.  He obeyed.  It cost him something”

This is where we are now in 2019 America.  Where are the obedient people to pick up the mantle of reform.


Confusing Reality with Symbols

In a wonderfully sarcastic piece from Facebook, black politician and military veteran Allen West writes of how foolish the celebration over the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina, confederateflagas though it had the least ability to effect the massive changes American needs in race relations and the ills of the minority communities, so I copy it here.

Alan West writes:

“Yippee, the Confederate battle flag has now been removed from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol. And, just like that, it solves the problem of black-on-black crime and killings. Now we’ll see the out-of-wedlock birthrate in the black community drop from 75%. There will be better educational opportunities and schools in South Carolina’s black communities and all across America.

The black unemployment rate will drop —especially the almost 40% black teenage unemployment rate. We’ll now see an economic entrepreneurial boon in the inner cities because the Confederate battle flag’s been lowered. And there’ll be no more gangs of blacks beating on whites — as we saw in Ohio recently.

Yep, the liberal progressive media shouted “squirrel” and an entire nation went a running. All the yelling and shouting by the crowds was evidence of those who lack grace, respect and dignity. Former South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Lou Holtz remarked that when you get to the end zone, you should act like you’ve been there before. So what does the lowering of the Confederate battle flag have to do with the killing of little seven-year-old Amari Brown in Chicago — anyone know when his funeral is?”

We are already good at substituting for reality

Of course we don’t know where his funeral is because we have enjoyed a life of substitutions.  The Church, that great community change agent, allows Bible study to substitute for personal holiness, attendance at services to substitute for obeying God’s personal commands to us, and fellowship with believers as a substitute for fellowship with the Lord himself.

We barely pay attention anymore to the masses of lawbreakers released early from prison to commit fresh crimes.  79,000 illegal felons have been re-released into the population instead of being deported.  We have voted and instructed the Congress to act in one way and it looks the other way. Our President seems barely to notice the country or its wishes; he’s as determined to get a deal with Iran as Iran is determined to wipe America, The Great Satan, off the face of the earth.

And what has to be supreme nonsense, after 67% of the voters in over 30 states added to their Constitutions the verification that marriage was only between one man and one woman,(see Amendments by states ) the Supreme Court decides though lacking judicial authority to do so, because it did not originate marriage, that a union between two persons of the same sex is marriage in spite of the clear fact that they have no ability to procreate or continue the human race.

Psalm 2

Why do the nations conspire[a]
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
    against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
    and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.

We can join God in His humor but we should be joining Him in changing a culture that thinks because someone said something, that makes it true.  Or that taking down a flag has any effect on the major issues of our time.  The Supreme Court changed marriage not one whit; they only brought themselves into condemnation.  What they did can be undone by the Church ready to leave the womb of mother-church and join the fight for the sanity of our nation and its people.  Every time the Church has done this, she has won. It is long overdue.

#mandarin #chinese #allemand #espagnol #cantonese #francais #Vietnamese #gaymarriage #SupremeCourt

#romanticism #rulebyemotions

The Importance of Shall vs. Will in Scripture

American grammar has taken a hit in recent years and so the fine point of the difference between using I shall and I will has lost its punch. But in the Bible the difference is especially important because when God says He shall He means quite something difference from He will.

Will as a Verb

Will, as a verb, has two distinct meanings, often muddied together. Will can be a future event and a decision, opinion or plan such as, “I will walk more for health reasons.” Shall, however, means a decision or event is set in stone.

Example: The meeting will be at 8 p.m. Clearly the meeting has no mind of its own and cannot will something to happen. Will, is this case, is an intention or a scheduling item referring only to the future.

Will as a Noun

The will of man is another, and a more important use of the word. When someone says I have written my will, they mean that after they are dead others should follow through on their wishes. As anyone can testify, more often than not the will of the living prevails, and the inheritance may be entirely lost or stolen. Your will lasts only as long as you do. There is the will of the devil too. God speaks to this when the evil one gets uppity in Isaiah:

13 You thought to yourself, ‘I will scale the heavens,
I will raise my throne above God’s stars.
I will sit on the Mount of Assembly
far away in the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will be like the most High.

God’s shall is forever

God’s response to Satan is “You SHALL be brought down to the pit.” When God says shall, the issue is settled. It is going to happen. Man’s will and the devil’s will are temporary; God’s shall is forever.

Pay attention to this word shall in your Bible and see what God has to tell you.

We’ve included this in Cornerstone Content because the Bible is about words; even Jesus is referred to the “word of God” meaning what God had to tell us was alive through Him.

#UnderstandTheBible

The Difference between Sins & Iniquity

Sins are never called mysterious. If someone lies, steals, fornicates, or physically assaults someone it requires only an explanation. But iniquity is mysterious because of the long tendrils of corruption and change it brings about to not just individuals, but families and even societies. If a drunk plows into a school bus killing five children he is sentenced by the court for manslaughter. That is sin and the law defines sins; the law does not define or punish iniquity. Iniquity is God’s word for what happens next, the ripples on the water after a sin is thrown in history.

Iniquity Defined

https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/2%20Thessalonians%202:7

  • Sins, violations of the laws of God, whether we know them or not.
  • Sin, the innate propensity of man to commit sins.
  • Iniquity, the damage done resulting from others’ sins.

Iniquities are the collateral damage done by sinners to the innocents. In addition to five dead children there are five broken families – the parents, grandparents teachers, classmates, siblings and neighbors – all affected in some way by these deaths, lives that will never be the same. Good may come out of it or evil; many couples who suffer the loss of a child also later divorce. The judge may decide to come down harder on drunk drivers. The drunk’s family experiences changes as well as he is no longer a proper breadwinner or his jail time forces the family on welfare. The judge may be overindulgent and allow him back on the road to cause another crime with the long trail of damaged lives once again. Taxes increase to cover increases in criminal prosecutions.

All Sin has Consequences

It will have an effect of some kind for generations and because those effects are not easily recognized they can be called the mysteries of iniquity. There are few visible signs of iniquities in our world. We have evidence of the good that individuals do. Consider the family of Billy Graham with millions worldwide being blessed and his family following him in productive ministry. God blesses us for the good we do, but those hidden iniquities are still on his books, still making a difference in unseen ways.

Consequences may not show up for a generation

Iniquity is the personal result of a long line of self-indulged sins because sin is not static in one’s life. Sin is like formaldehyde which is used to preserve tissue and cadavers, that is human bodies, from decay. So the sin repeatedly over time locks in the evil in the person making it harder for him (her) to change. Decades of excusing oneself and justifying the behavior hardens the heart and reduces the desire for repentance.

Genes show up in families. The Bach musicians are famous; there are 3 and 4 generations of men in jail, and their girls too, like red hair showing up consistently in the Irish and straight black hair in the Chinese. Like father, like son. Families of doctors or teachers. So we should not be surprised if those same sins pop up in the families of those who are careless about their moral lives. You can rightfully call it a reason but not an excuse.

You cannot call it a real gene however.Attempts to locate a “gay gene have failed. Those family failures are iniquity in action.

Humans do not see their own evil nature

For some reason human beings are not able to see the extent of their behavior, their sins. I sat silently as an old woman “apologized” to her adult daughter for being “too hard” on her as a child. Those words are in quotes because it was hardly an apology and what she did was criminal, drunken beatings and an attempt to kill her. I was a counselor for 7 years and only realized later that so much of what I was hearing was superficial, like this confession, a half-hearted attempt at “getting right with God” but merely inching towards God when hoping God accepts one’s peccadilloes as a gross violation of eternal moral standards for which one must eventually answer to God. Could this woman not see the extent of her sin, or was it so hard, she could not bear it?

Ultimately all change is internal.

Counselors that don’t realize that truth must be internalized will be forever disappointed at their results. The ability of people to justify their sins is incalculable. An old man in Florida was charged with raping an 11-year old, then murdering her and burying her body in the back yard. His excuse? “She wanted me to rape her.” Where does this kind of mental poison come from? Even women who abort their children do not say, “The baby wanted me to kill him? or her? “

Sin is like a gene

Before we are too quick to congratulate ourselves on having not done this look at American society today where all kinds of evil behavior are glossed over, especially sexual adventures called “love” including child sexual trafficking, pornography and other hidden evils. Marches in city streets applaud the murder of babies in the womb calling it a health issue for women. Nonsense.

Child bearing has 10,000 years of success and is not a disease or a health issue, and even a child knows that. And then there is a wild protest when the public refuses to pay for the abortion. Not a word on why someone else should be asked to pay for you to kill your child. Silence about these sins and iniquities is also iniquity.

Headlines like these are all too common.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/idaho-lawmakers-seek-to-make-abortion-murder-within-the-state_2786538.html

The severity of the iniquity is determined by the level of the authority of the Doer. King David ordered a census in direct violation of the will of God. As a result many people died.

2 Samuel 24:10 

10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

David was in charge of his kingdom and his underlings both in the government and society suffered loss. God gave David a choice of various punishments. David said these prescient words: “Let me not fall into the hands of man.” David knew that men would be harder on him than God.

In contrast when a small child steals an apple negative results are limited because his authority levels are so low involving only one child and one grocer. A “talking to” and a light spanking to remind the child of his sins is about all that is needed.

Sins>iniquity>deception>delusion>death

Sins lead to iniquity which leads to deception which leads to delusion. Only a deluded society would see anything legal about this, if we accept the basis of western law, that is the common law and the Holy Bible. If we accept lawlessness including a public and private anarchy, then this kind of behavior and thinking makes sense. But it also spells the death of a society. So when people say “I want to save my country” this is what they are talking about, the advancing iniquity of a society morally off the rails. That describes today.

Different Kinds of Knowing

Most languages differentiate between simply acquaintance, intuitive feelings  and real knowledge.  But most Bibles do not offer an explanation of which verb “to know” is under in any passage which means the translator must do the work.

Different Verbs for Know

Here is an example of why the King James can be confusing:

Acts 19:15  the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

There are two different words for ‘know’ here, so let’s translate this again:

Acts 19:15 Jesus I know, and Paul I’ve heard about, but who are you?

In English we say I am getting to know you, or the first level of interpersonal relationship. We could also say that the first few years of schooling are getting to know words and numbers. We memorize at this level but there is no foundation of understanding; information is impersonal, understanding is personal.

Ginosko vs. Ouida

Greek, the language of the New Testament, has two words for knowing – ginóskó: to come to know, recognize, perceive and ouida, a word reflecting the knowledge of personal experience.

Ginosko is a root common in English seen in words such as knowledge or agnostic.  It means perception or understanding; it goes deep into the personality.  Believers respond occasionally to the question, How do you know you are saved and they reply, “I know that I know that I know.” For the non-believer it isn’t much of an answer but for other believers, we all understand.

Ouida according to artists is an acronym for Observe, Imagine, Discover and Apply by looking at the natural world and creating something new based on your appreciation.  Writers would not use this word for knowing God; they use gnosis instead.

Here are some Bible verses that use the word ginosko:

Genesis 2:9   And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Notice that God did not give man knowledge if physics and French literature, just good and evil.  On this foundation mankind was to make good decisions enforcing good and resisting evil. Clearly this did not happen.

The Sexual “Know”

Luke 1:34   Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Here is a common use of the word ‘know’ in King James English, the sexual “knowledge” of two persons required to be exclusive to them. You do not hear it much these days but Bible readers need to understand this usage.

The Book of First John has 31 references to the word know. It profiles all the things believers should know, and how you, the reader can discern the difference between truth and lies.

1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

In this case the truth that is missing is Jesus who is the way, truth and life.  (John 14:16) The passage is telling us that the person is not born again.

Jesus “Not Knowing You” is Important

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Holy Spirit Baptism

Finally there is spiritual knowledge imparted in the Holy Spirit Baptism:

I Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

This kind of knowledge comes straight from the spirit of Christ to your spirit and then to your brain. Many people confuse the baptism of the Holy Spirit with knowledge that is obtained through study or from another person. But Holy Spirit directed information is especially helpful to you because it empowers you to apprehend situations and truths when others do not.

How often have you heard someone say, “I get bad vibes about that guy” and later it is discovered that he had hidden problems.  That kind of intuition is given by the spirit.  Very often small children have this feeling as well.

If you want an instructive Bible study, find a concordance and look up every use of the word know and tie them all back to the original Greek.  It will be an eye opener.

The Difference between Ethics and Morals

Ethics exist in every organized society as an agreed-upon system of behavioral norms and attitudes by which members live in as much harmony as possible.  These rules apply first to public behavior but also hopefully to private as well. Ethics governs interpersonal relationships, business deals, political life and social life. It is temporal and voluntary.

Aristotle

Aristotle wrote his famous Nicomachean Ethics in 340 B.C.E which was widely accepted as the norm except that even he focused on the individual application more than the corporate. Perhaps he knew that controlling other people was pretty much a lost cause.

Morals are the same thing, but they are dictated by a single God through the Bible, hence their origin in the Judeo Christian traditions. Greeks, and other nations at that time, had a pantheon of gods, many of whom were reprobates and not worth emulating. Jews alone at that time were monotheists.

God alone is the one who expects accountability from those who violate moral codes since they come from Him. They are temporal, spiritual and eternal in their consequences.  Morals demand a higher standard because God not man is the final arbiter. Ethics may vary from one society to another. Morality does not because God has one set of books, not two or more.

In practice this how it works. Socrates got a bad reputation in Athens for speaking out against evil and mismanagement. Political leaders felt the brunt of his criticism and based on their ethical principle, “the peace of the community,” told Socrates to commit suicide because he was, in effect,  disturbing the peace. Socrates agreed with Athenian Ethics and drank the poison.

This would not have happened in a moral society. Here truth is superior to “an uncomfortable community” and life is precious, preferable to death. God’s laws not man’s comfort is the standard.

When a society veers away from a God-imposed criteria it loses its footing which leads to confusion. When abortion was legalized in mid-20th century America it marked a steady decline in public behavior so now we hear cursing by even the smallest children to a media unrepentant about slander and managed news. Today there is virtually no part of public life left uncontaminated by a loss of morals and spiritual anarchy.

In our fascination with the Greeks superior intellectual attainment and ability to recognize and applaud the human aspect of mankind they still crashed and have never regained that level of culture. Ethics works – it works wherever it is tried, but it cannot retain ascendancy when founded on humanistic principles. When man tries to govern himself, he fails.

In contrast is Israel which having been disciplined by a rightfully angry God, returned in 1948 to its homeland after many generations with its moral laws in tact.

Will America do likewise?

Regret, Remorse, Repent – Not the Same Thing

These three terms begin with the prefix “re” which tells us that what we are talking about happened in the past. “Re” goes back – remember, things of the past; regret, what has happened; restore, what was once in good condition, revisit, and so on.  In fact you could invent your own word by adding re. “Re” calls up our past, our history.

The prefix re

Animals do not have a history; they keep no records of their ancestry.  They remember bad behavior, locations, and events with people but the notion that their baby cat is a child ends when the cat is adult. He or she just becomes another adult cat.

Memory reaches to God

Memory for human beings helps them to make contact with God. If we were not able to contemplate the past we would not also be able to consider our future. Animals avoid danger because they have a will to live, as do we all.  The tiny baby facing a knife in the womb fights back! But humans know that death is permanent and that the life thereafter is up for grabs. Animals don’t know this and they don’t need to.

There are levels of dealing with the past. To regret may be a simple oversight.  I regret not closing that window; the rain has ruined those books on the window sill. If regret is allowed to eat away at your personality, it can become an obsession.

A woman with a unicornuate womb wrote to me in a deep depression. This malformation means she may not be able to have a baby.  And if this depression increases she is at risk of suicide. So regret can lead to serious problems if you do not work on controlling your mind, and seeking a plan to meet your life head-on.

Remorse involves deeds, in fact sins, you have committed which eat away in guilt.  Sometimes remorse leads to suicide as well, if you let what you did, or what someone else did to you to take over your personality. Many people can run to God for help but in fact it is only remorse.  They are sorry they did something but more often, more sorry they were caught or unable to have their own will in their situation.

Mind control is your responsibility

Only repentance leads to God. The word repent means literally “to change your mind; “meta” Greek for change, and “nous” Greek for “mind.”  You need to think differently about your situation. For atheists it could encourage them not to cut God out of their lives. All of us face death.  There is no escape.  Even the man that Jesus raised from the dead, Lazarus, eventually died a second time.

And what happens after death is determined by what happens in life. No one faces death without realizing that s/he has made some very bad mistakes, both deliberate and accidental. And all cultures believe in life after death.

Ministers may even be fooled into thinking the new believer has truly repented when he’s only become sick with remorse. There is a test for that; it’s called the “fruits of repentance.”  A changed attitude will lead to changed behavior.

Fruits of Repentance

Fruits are things that show up after a growing season.  Berries take only one season to bear fruit; apples require at least three years before the first crop.  The wise minister waits to see those fruits before he accepts the new life of the believer.

We often hear of Christians who “lose their salvation.” More often than not their commitment was weak and they had not really turned their life over to God. We must always be quick to forgive but expect the Christian life to grow slowly.

Many of these posts are responses to questions, so I invite them here. Immaculateassumptions@gmail.com.
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How do you work out your salvation? Sins(s) vs. Sin

“Philippians 2:12 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Evangelicals make a big deal out of saying you can’t be saved by good works –BUT salvation from sins is only the 1st stop in a walk of a lifetime. In fact, too many people think they are through after accepting Christ. Not so. There is much work to do to change the inner personality which leans always towards sin.

The Old Testament illustration of this is the brass laver in the tabernacle. After you slaughter your spotless lamb, i.e. Jesus, you walk up to the brass wash basin (laver) filled with water, i.e. the Word Of God, you look at your self and see – whoopps – I have inner flaws.

At this point you are not supposed to be looking at the goodness or sins of other people. 1 Corinthians 11: 28 –examine yourselves. 2 Corinthians 10:12 warns –not to compare yourself with someone else. God has a picture of the real you.

The real you is visible in the water of the word, that is the Bible. Look there. Ephesians 5:26 Jesus wants to …sanctify and cleanse … with the washing of water by the word.

The main difference between the brass altar and the brass laver is the difference between “sins” and “sin.” Sin(s) are taken care of on the cross, the altar. Sin – singular- is a process of gradual change as we look into the word of God because it involves not conscious wrong acts, but a pattern of our inner personality, i.e. a propensity to sin which does not go away with salvation.

Many Christians fail to see this difference and “get saved” time after time, living lives of frustration. Without being negative and ending up n depression, ask God what is wrong with you.  (The world will tell you anything and everything is wrong with you.) He knows best and can give you the cure as well.

The Difference between Prayer and Intercession

You didn’t know there was a difference? Well neither did I. But in a single sentence, prayer is what you do and intercession is what God tells you to pray.

Prayer is automatic

Prayer is natural, that is, when you are in a tight spot, you pray automatically. You don’t really need to think about it.

One reporter said said when people are in a car accident, the first thing they say is “Oh God no.” Vladimir Putin, affirmed atheist and Communist boss said when he entered the Oval Office during George W. Bush’s Presidency, “Oh my God.” I thought Putin didn’t have a god! We can’t stop that kind of prayer.

Intercession is deliberate

In contrast, intercession is what God wants done. This past week I could not get to sleep thinking about a friend. The Bible calls this a “burden.” It is something on your mind and you don’t have a clue what it is all about. I asked someone, do you ever think God is sitting on your chest? That is the way I felt.

Burdens are spiritual pressure

I knew nothing about this person that might be wrong. I called the next day, and nothing seemed wrong, but then again, nothing seemed right either.

The scripture says this:”If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does and seeks to provide us a prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” Romans 8:27

An old friend of mine, Jackie, was driving along one day and she began to cry. She pulled over to the side of the road because she could not see through her tears, and started praying for a mutual friend named David. That went on for about a half hour. Then she dried her tears and drove off.

Later she learned David was standing on the roof of a building ready to commit suicide that afternoon. David told her later that as he stood on the edge of the roof he felt a giant hand hold him back and he stepped down. That is intercession.

The Holy Spirit Groans

The same word, groan, appears once more in the New Testament. John 11:33 “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” This verse appears right before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The Greek word can also be translated as “sigh” which is what you would do if God sat on your chest.

The notion of a spiritual burden also appears in 2 Corinthians 5:4, referring to our physical bodies and wanting to be released to heaven. These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh,. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life.

The Greek word for groan is bareo, meaning pressure. You feel pressured to pray for someone which is intercession. We can rejoice that God has given us this blessing to pray for others, when we have no notion they need it.

Many of these posts are responses to questions, so I invite them here. Immaculateassumptions@gmail.com.

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https://wouldyouconsider.net/2018/02/05/the-difference-between-ethics-and-morals/

Covet, Envy, Jealous, Greed, Anger, Hate

These four words describing attitudes are all found in the Bible. But today their usage can be quite different.  In fact the word “jealous” in scripture is not always sin – God is described as a jealous God so we need to know what He is upset about and why. Humans can sin as well if they believe something is their right, and it is not.  And jealousy is a sin when it involves competition.

Covet means to desire something.  It can be a simple toy for a child, or wanting a college degree. And God can give you a desire for something. Psalm 37:4 says if you delight yourself in the ways of God He can give you some Godly desires.

That explains why some people want to serve poor mission areas to deal with egregious social problems.  It is unexplained behavior as far as others are concerned, coming straight from God Himself.

But then there is just the “I wants” which can deteriorate into acquisitiveness. How often a child wants a toy and then after a few minutes pays it no more attention. And that becomes greed which is the continuing desire for anything and everything way beyond your own ability to manage or your personal need.

Greed is never satisfied which  is how the Bible describes hell – Proverbs 27:20  Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. That is why the restaurant’s menu has pictures of luscious desserts. 

When we describe hell as being a place of torment we need to include never being satisfied as a condition.  And that would depend on what the person wanted so very badly in life – sex, money, power, food, companionship? Picture hell as an eternity without it.

Envy is the worst of these sins.  James 3:16  “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” That identifies four unhappy conditions – envy, strife, confusion and evil work all at the same time.  Envy comes in at tops because it desires what others have.  

This is the covert world of the adulterer.  It is not enough to want someone else’s spouse – you want THAT one.  Of course after you have it you throw it away and go on the next person, property of another. That is why adulterous marriages so often break down. The glue that held it together was not love but some other sin and sin eventually collapses under its own weight.

There is also righteous anger and hate.  We are to be angry and sin not.  That means to be angry at what God is angry about, not our own personal animus.  We can hate what he hates as well.  I have a list in the back of my mind of what he hates – child abuse, sex trafficking, lying, fear, anything that shows He is not first in your heart and life.

Exodus 20:5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

God considers the souls he creates His personal property and does not treat lightly those who abuse their power over human beings.

And that brings us to jealousy.  God can be jealous because jealousy means that someone wants something you properly own.  God is jealous over His people simply because they are His People.  We don’t think about this when we pray but we should.  If someone that we know was once a Christian and has now strayed, you can ask God to go get His property back.

Your child may be neck-deep in drugs, but he/she is not your property – but still God’s. Pray to God and ask Him to return His property to Himself.

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The Difference between Critical Thinking and Criticism

Consider these conversations:

Two women are playing bridge. They have known each other about 2 months.

Maxine: You need to lose some weight.

Carol: (says nothing)

A month later:

Maxine: You really should lose some weight so you won’t have trouble breathing.

Carol: What makes you think you have the standing to make a comment about my weight?

Maxine: (Taken aback- says nothing)

There are 14 other people in the room and now they are all listening.

Carol: Standing is a legal term. When parties go to court the judge needs to know if they have a right to be involved in the case and the law it concerns. For example, a private citizen cannot go to court about a Home School law unless he is a home schooling parent.

You brought a charge against me about my weight without having any legal reason to do so, and on top of that you have no relevant facts in the case. I ignored your previous comments because your opinion is of no value. The judge throws out any persons who do not have standing, and I threw out what you said because you have no standing. In other words, your opinion is of no value to me.

Maxine: But I know you will breathe better if you lose weight.

Carol: That is not knowledge; that is an opinion based on an assumption.  You do not have the facts in the case. I have seen my doctor 3 times in the past 7 months and not once did he mention my weight. Bless his heart.

If you are a dietitian or medical professional you have standing, otherwise none. Is your emotional assumption more valuable to me than his professional life of medical experience? Hardly.

Maxine: But I know that overweight people have trouble breathing.

Carol: That is true, but you don’t know that I almost died at 9 years of age of pneumonia.  I was so thin the neighbor asked my mother who that child was with her. I never could begin school in September on the first day because I couldn’t breathe – my lungs were badly damaged. I never mentioned this because you are not my friend; you are a sometime bridge player. I might have asked you about bridge; you have standing on that issue.  You have no standing to criticize my health or my physical body.

I do have people in my life that I consult. One couple here in town is so important to me that no matter what they ask I respond! They asked me to run for office and I was elected.  I really had no interest in the office but because I trust their judgment, which they have proven to me, I complied. I have no history with you.

You based your comments solely on your assumptions which were wrong. In addition, comments about someone’s physical body are considered rude.

That is the difference between critical thinking and emotional opinion.  Critical thinking is based on standing acquired by information and understanding; ad hominum remarks are nothing but criticism based on assumption and personal bias.

Unfortunately most of America is now indulging in the latter and public discourse has become rotten and unhinged.

Unalienable vs. Inalienable Rights

Our Declaration of Independence reads, in part:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …”

Frequently we hear this passage quoted as inalienable rights.  What is the difference, if any?

I read a long treatise on this by a legal expert. He said unalienable rights come from God and because they are God-given they cannot be taken away, or, using Thomas Jefferson’s term, alienated from us. An alien has no rights in the kingdom where he does not have his official residence.  Hence, we are members of God’s original kingdom and the rights are ours.

Now as for inalienable; that means that human beings can take those rights away through war, fiat, or the practice of police action, but they are still our rights even though some agency has tampered with their administration. A nation which does not believe in God therefore may not be overly concerned with individual rights. In fact we see this in the news all the time.

We are told that there is no relationship of church to state but clearly this is not true. Religion and beliefs about God color and influence all our political decisions, perhaps more so today as they are publicly challenged.

The Difference between a Sin and a Mistake

Recently I’ve noticed an interesting tendency for people to admit to mistakes rather than sins. It happens at every level, whether someone is caught cheating on their spouse, filing false insurance claims, or shoplifting from a clothing store. After the National Inquirer broke the news about John Edwards’ affair, he said.

“Two years ago I made a very serious mistake, a mistake that I am responsible for and no one else.  In 2006 I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, and asked God for His forgiveness. And we have kept this within our family since that time.”

On the surface, this admission looks humble and contrite. What more could you want?  But when someone refers to this kind of behavior as a mistake rather than a sin, he or she is either consciously or unconsciously evading responsibility.

Why? Because of the fundamental difference between the two.  Many think they are synonymous but they are not.

Mistakes are not intentional

The term “mistake” implies an error in judgment – something done unintentionally.  For example, a legitimate mistake might be:

  • Turning onto a one-way street the wrong way
  • Pouring salt not sugar into your coffee
  • Mis-typing a web address and ending up on a porn site.

These could all be legitimate mistakes because we are distracted or careless.  But sin is more than a mistake.  It is a deliberate choice to do something we know is wrong.

The word “transgression” is even stronger.  It implies deliberately stepping over a boundary.  The word “trespass” is similar.  It implies entering a person’s territory or property without permission.

At the bridge table recently one player told another woman she needed to go on a diet. Yes, the other player was fat but the critic did not know her well enough to be advising her on a personal matter like that.  She stepped over a social boundary.

Sin is deliberate

Unlike a mistake, we choose sin.  Therefore we must accept responsibility for it – and the consequences that follow. This is a measure of maturity and marks the transition from adolescence into adulthood.  It is the foundation of civilized society.

What can we do to make sure we preserve this distinction between sins and mistakes?

I suggest 5 actions.

  1. Choose your words carefully. Don’t minimize your sin by calling it a mistake.  The meaning of the Greek word  homologeo – translated confession in I John 1:9 is “to speak the same word.” In other words your words should be the same as God’s words.  If He calls it a sin, so should you.  You cannot be cured of a sickness if you continue to deny it.
  2. Take responsibility for your behavior. If you have sinned, own it. In fact, if you have made a mistake own that too. Take the hit. Even if someone else provoked you, own the response. If they were 90% responsible, accept 100% of your 10%. When it comes to sin there is never an excuse unless you are a true victim.
  3. Acknowledge your guilt. It is normal to be guilty when you sin. Guilt is God’s gift, designed to motivate you to initiate reconciliation.  The sooner you acknowledge your responsibility the sooner you can resolve the problem, if the other person receives your confession. And never follow the confession with the word “but.” This is a preface to an excuse. It negates everything you have said before.
  4. Change your behavior. Words are cheap. Some people are very adept at saying they are sorry – but then – nothing changes. Repentance is not just a change of mind; it is a change of direction. Unless you change your behavior, you have not fully repented, no matter how many tears you may have shed.  Repentance in  the Bible is the word for “change your mind.” Once your mind is really changed so will be your actions.
  5. Ask for forgiveness.  You can’t demand it. You are not entitled to it. You can only ask and hope that the person you have sinned against will extend grace. Sometimes they will wait until you have demonstrated a change of behavior, called the fruit of repentance (see Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:19-20.)

The world is watching the Christian to see how he/she reacts to real life.  It is a part of our public testimony.

Many of these posts are responses to questions, so I invite them here. Immaculateassumptions@gmail.com.

#forgiveness #acknowledgeguilt #watchyourwords #Changebehavior

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https://wouldyouconsider.net/2018/02/05/the-difference-between-ethics-and-morals/

Being Right is not Being Righteous

It is my sorry lot in life to read many theologians.  Like God’s great universe they are diverse, multiplying like fruit flies in August.  They are also valuable as I follow their logic and very helpful, sometimes in the negative, for showing me small discrepancies in meaning and application. Theology was once called the Queen of the Sciences because all men sought to know God and believed God controlled all of science.  Since the end of the Middle Ages, now we seek to know man.  In actual practice we should know both.

Pride goes before destruction

Pride goes before destruction

Theology is divided into two sections; trust and obey being the verbs that apply to humankind, and for those who study the Bible, Law and Grace.  They often appear at each others’ throats but that is because we are imperfect and we tend to come down on the side of one to the detriment of the other.

Calvinism, which is in the modern practice of the Reformation based on Law, is practiced by Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists and Lutherans and some others, while the Grace people are the Pentecostal-Charismatics and the heavily missionary society groups such as Nazarenes and Mennonites.

It has always been this way.  In the Early Church, that is before about 300 A.D., the Grace people lived and operated in northern Egypt, known as the Coptic church, and the Law Guys were in Rome to morph into the Roman Catholic Church.  In their subsequent struggle for control the Roman Catholic branch won and what was lost was a personal relationship to Jesus and the holy disciplines such as fasting and deliverance.

What was gained was the ability of the Roman Empire to impose its will on much of the known world.  Civilization actually became more civilized in this process, however slowly, but certain things became expected – that you didn’t kill anyone without answering to a higher authority, for example, and certain good public policy became accepted everywhere, such as holding marriage accountable for children, the government for national defense and identity, and the church as a moral authority.

If you read English History you can watch this sophistication unfold over the centuries. That did not last as the church in Rome became increasingly perverse. We give the credit to Martin Luther, but the entire European continent was disgusted with Catholicism as it was practiced so Reformation was a common goal.  The Black Plague was the nail in the old Roman coffin.  When all those prayers could not save 1/3rd who died, the theology also died with it.  Man, Generic Man, started on his own path now theologically under Grace and the Bible as authority rather than a man in Rome, or France or wherever.

Today the two stand just as they did 500 years ago.  Law on one side saying “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,” and on the other, “By Grace ye are saved and that not of yourselves it is a the gift of God.” Both are right.

But it is possible for both to be not righteous.  Truth is truth and we can accept it or reject.  That is the promise of Free Will which God gives us.  All men have the right to reject God; all men have the right to accept him.  But being Right does not make us righteous.  That comes with living a life of obedience to the Father.

For this example here is the Prodigal Son parable.  What is frequently missing is the idea of the parable of the Son who stayed Home; he was in just as much trouble as his brother.  Here is The Message’s version of that story:

The Story of the Lost Son

11-12 Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

12-16 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

17-20 “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

20-21 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

25-27 “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

28-30 “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

31-32 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

The Prodigal left home with Grace; he also received grace when he returned home.  The Older Brother, resentful and angry, stayed at home with the Father “under the Law” and when the banquet was held, he heard the law repeated against him.

It is possible to be living either in Law or Grace and not be at one with the Father. In spite of the close fellowship available and the real relationship intact, the  real fellowship with him, that is to be righteous, was missing. Self-righteousness hampers the possibility of being righteous. No one is saved by doctrine!

 The theologians miss this; they can hammer away at what is wrong in our thinking, but what makes us right is not just our thinking but our relationship and fellowship to God Himself. That is our goal and our purposes.  There are people out there with rotten theologies believing all kinds of nonsense, but they are right with God because they seek his face every day.

There are people out there who know the Bible page and verse, the Greek and the Hebrew, but there is a rotten place in their hearts, just like the older brother.  Their sweet fellowship with the Father is gone even though they are with him all the time.

God gives us 70 years to make up our mind.  God does not judge us until the very end.  Let’s also realize this for ourselves and for others.  He expects a response.  It is all yours now.