A Guarded Summer…

•06/18/2014 • Leave a Comment

Sun. Fun. Freedom. Beaches. Bikinis. Short shorts. Tank tops. Convertibles. Shirt-less competitive athletics. High school and college graduations. Weddings and wedding receptions. Backyard barbecues. Ice cold brews. Keggers. Outdoor music festivals. Hot, sweaty nights. Lust. Addictions. Temptations. Intemperance. Sin.

Sounds like you average All-American Summer to me.

Since I came into the faith just over 11 years ago, I have been constantly amazed at how many saints struggle with sin and often fall during the summer season. I don’t get it. Unrighteousness doesn’t come and go with the calendar. God is still God every day of the year. To me, perhaps since I esteem every day the same, I don’t see how a season, and the sinful pleasures such a season might offer, makes living for the Lord any harder.

Consider winter: dull, dark, depressing, cold, frustrating, expensive (e.g. heating bills), dangerous, and on it goes. To me, winter could be just as bad a season for a saint as any other. But no, we just happen to think that summer is where all the problems lay. Well, if that’s the case for some, or even for most, then I offer a suggestion:

Guard your summer!

Right now, it is 06-18-2014, three days away from the official start of summer, and I am already starting to see the effect a little extra sun and day light is having on people. Saints treat summer like their personal vacation from the things of God. We become lazy, undisciplined, and indifferent.

“Come on, God…” we whine, “…you can’t really expect me to continue to yield all my members unto righteousness this time of year. I mean, it’s just too hot outside”.

Really? Then what do you suppose all the saints in the world who live in climates that are year round like summer do? I live in the upper Midwest of the USA. I see it happen every year. After a long, difficult winter, and just after the cool spring melts away, all the efforts made to live a Godly life suddenly go out the window, as if He doesn’t care.

I say, it’s time we call ourselves to a better standard. We need to guard our summer. For a beginning verse, I give you Jeremiah 8:20,

20. The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

What a horrific thing to think about! The very possibility of losing one’s soul over approximately three months of warmer weather? I shudder to think. Yet it happens all the time. Where I’m from, summer fellowship attendance always drops. But it doesn’t have to be this way if saints would just guard their summer.

So what do I mean?

Consider the following, humorous lyric from a song called “Temptation Boogie” by a singer named Carman:

Well I grabbed my Superman beach towel
And QT Tanning lotion
I thought I’d take a cruise
And catch some rays down by the ocean

I had it all planned out 
To roast some burgers and some weenies
When I arrived everything but the telephone poles
Was dressed up in bikinis

My flesh and spirit had a race
And Satan went full throttle
What those women wore
Man, I seen more cotton in an Aspirin bottle

Well I knew there’s just one way
To please the Lord and still get tan
But I felt so stupid with my big ol’ head stuck in the sand

What did God tell Cain? If you do well, then you will be accepted, right? But what if Cain didn’t do well? Then sin lieth at the door (Genesis 4:7). Here’s how a person guards their summer. It’s easy. Simply devote yourself to doing well. Don’t go to the beach if half-naked people living in and for the world cause you to fall. If the basketball court is calling your name, and a bunch of opposite sex hotties are sitting on the bench to watch you play, then just walk away.

When that lukewarm cousin who hasn’t been to church in three months invites you over for a barbecue, make other plans and tell him or her no thanks. Commit to attend a wedding reception for the dinner only. Plan to leave once the DJ and the dance floor arrive. If, while at a graduation party for your unsaved sister or brother’s son or daughter, the quarter barrel comes out, take your cue, congratulate your niece or nephew, and be on your merry way.

As a possible rule of thumb, don’t plan to be anywhere except in the home (perhaps your own) of a consecrated brother or sister in the Lord after the sun sets. Most sin takes place after dark. If you can’t restrain yourself once night falls, then make sure you are among the kind of company that will gladly look out for your soul.

This stuff is so elementary. The problem isn’t knowing what to do. It’s in deciding once and for all that you are going to do the right thing, no matter what. As a pastor I recently heard preach: “If you’ve left some back door to the world open, then you need to slam it shut. Make up your mind that you are not going back” (paraphrased only).

There is no fancy sermon. No especially powerful verse of Scripture. No particular words in a prayer available. It’s just you and Jesus coming together, with you realizing and caring enough to know that as the Lord of your life, His will means more than yours.

I battle my flesh every day. If the god of my flesh and not the God of my soul, were in charge, I’d be gone in a heartbeat. I know my flesh intimately. I used to live there for 24 years. I know exactly what my flesh would be doing if I wasn’t dedicated to serving God. And I’m willing to wager that you know the same things about your own carcass.

So what matters most? Not just more, but most? What is the single most important priority to you? Are you going to let a little extra mercury rising send you to Hell? Are you going to let Satan and the World dictate to you how faithfully you live for your Creator? God don’t raise no wimps. No wusses in the kingdom, Dear Reader. God fully expects all of us to man/woman up and live for Him. If you don’t believe me, then read this:

2 Peter 1:2-3,

2. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…

God has, through His divine power, given unto us everything we need to live a Godly life. It’s all in the Holy Spirit.

I am reminded of a child’s Bible song. It goes like this:

Pray, pray, pray each day
Pray and then believe
Verily, verily, verily then you shall receive…

We are stringently urged to do the following:

Jude 1:20-21,

20. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Praying in the Holy Spirit of God builds or constructs a most holy faith, causing us to be able to believe God for many rich and wonderful blessings, up to and including, deliverance from temptation. By praying in the Holy Spirit, God will begin to allow His Spirit to intercede for you, to make intercession on your behalf for your own personal weaknesses in the flesh (Romans 8:26). The Spirit will strengthen you to resist making stupid, carnal decisions.

This summer, and indeed all year round, make up your mind and commit yourself, yea, even devote yourself to praying in the Holy Spirit. How much or how long is up to you. But I tender one piece of advice. Your level of help and deliverance from the flesh will be commensurate with how often and how long you pray in the Holy Spirit. More = more. Get it?

You have a well of everlasting life springing up inside of you. All you have to do is let down your vessel, gather, and drink. Guard your summer by praying fervently, religiously, even zealously in the Holy Spirit.

Peace and God bless.

A Depressing Reminder…

•06/13/2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been ruminating over this one for awhile. In some sense, this post hearkens all the way back to my Before Christ days. It is a reminder of where I was (and perhaps you, as well) before God reached down and rescued me. I’ve decided to write this post to help anyone who reads it gain a spiritual insight into the plight of the lost sinner.

Maybe you were raised in the faith and though you know you are a sinner lost but for Christ, you never really ever indulged in the law of sin found in your members, and so, you don’t know just how far gone some people really become. Perhaps you’ve been a believer for so long you’ve forgotten what it was like to be lost? Or maybe, you were just a different shade of sinner and so, this post will help you relate to people you’ve never been able to relate to before, so that you can be more successful in your evangelistic endeavors?

I’m not sure, but I do hope this post is a blessing to you. My ultimate goal for its creation will be achieved if but one believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is helped in winning a lost soul to Him. Glory be to God.

What follows then are a series of music videos, or at least videos that contain music, in which people who are lost and alone, dying in their sins, are in some way presented to the listener (It will become more apparent what I mean once the various videos are viewed). I admit that they are depressing, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Additionally, the music contained in each is from an unsaved artist or musician. While none of the videos are what I would call inappropriate for a Christian to share on a devotional blog such as this (well, except possibly for the last one—you can decide), I will still offer the following warning:

If you are not secure in your salvation, and listening to and watching a video of what might correctly be called “worldly” music will be a stumbling-block to you, then I suggest you turn away and stop reading. If you don’t want to be depressed today, then please turn away and stop reading. If some heavy emotional and thematic content is not something you are prepared to experience, then by all means, please turn away and stop reading. But for everyone else, if you, like me, would like to be reminded (depressing as it may be) of what life among the dead was and is like (as a means to help you pray for and win such people), then please continue.

Finally, after each video, I will be offering some commentary.

1.) Kiwi (featuring a Gary Jules cover of Tears For Fears Mad World)

There are people in life who are so desperate for something to change, for anything at all to be different, that they will go to whatever extremes, to bring about such a change, up to and including suicide. Notice the deception. As in the video, which shows a bird, namely a kiwi, which cannot fly, how a person will intentionally bring their life to an end, just to escape into an impossible fantasy. For them, they think death is better than life. They somehow become convinced that dying will solve all their problems, not knowing or at least, not caring, that the WORST PROBLEM IMAGINABLE, that is, of facing Christ’s Judgment Seat as a lost sinner, awaits them, post mortem.

People are who suicidal really think this way. They think their death will make it worth it. Such hopelessness really does permeate the human race. We need to pray for the hopeless, who are so tormented in their anguish, that they become more than willing to throw themselves off of the proverbial cliff in order to make it seem like, for a brief moment in time, that they are actually flying, flying away and into some kind of freedom from their pain. But the reality is, the only thing they are flying to is an eternal separation from the Creator, who loves them.

2.) Hellbent by Kenna (accompanied by the short film More by Mark Osbourne)

Some people really are “hell-bent” (I hope this use of the word doesn’t offend, since it is being used in a Biblical way). Some people really will, for the sake of wanting to overcome the depression and misery of their present circumstance, sell their soul for what they think will make them happy. I’ve met so many drunks, and addicts, fornicators, and others, who constantly give themselves over to whatever sins, just to feel a temporary pleasure, but in the end, they know none of these things satisfy. And yet, they remain ever “hell-bent”. Instead of seeking OUT OF the cycle of their sins, they just find a way to perpetuate them until they embark upon an ever increasing sadness.

Dear Believer, we need to pray and reach out to the depressed, the marginalized, the torn, and the abused. The Good News of Jesus Christ was tailor-made by God for such as these.

3.) I’m Dying by Visual Audio Sensory Theatre

Pride. Some people know who Jesus Christ is, what He represents, and what He can be for them (i.e. their Hope and Savior), and yet, for pride, they forsake the GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, because they’d rather just live for themselves, how they want, even though such prideful living is the reason they are dying inside. Such a pride leads to an internal rage, a spiritual frustration that can only find release in repentance and trust in the Lord. But, because they refuse to humble themselves, they instead project that rage and frustration out toward everyone else, including the very God who wants to save them.

We need to pray and fast for those hard-nosed, too tough to cry, unyielding unbelievers who, but for one stupid, five letter word, could have and experience “joy unspeakable and full of glory”, not to mention the promise of Everlasting Life with God in Heaven.

4.) The Answer by Blue October

Ever met someone who was convinced that all their hopes and dreams for love were bound up in someone who didn’t love them back? I have. Maybe you used to be that person? Maybe you still are? So many people assume to think that the heart of another frail, flawed, weak, and fallen human is the best place to find spiritual and emotional fulfillment. It’s not, and has never been. There is a reason the sad love song is the most popular song in the world (and always will be). Because everyone can relate to a broken heart. But what happens when the heart breaks just a little harder, a little too often? Despair creeps in and grows, until either a person gives up on the idea of ever loving again, or…

…Or a saint meets them where they are at and introduces them to the love of God in Christ, an eternal, unfailing love, such a love that forever satisfies. Are we trying, Church? Everyday, everywhere, we are surrounded by such heart-broken people. Do we lift our voice to God and cry for them? Or do we just pass them by, knowing we have the answer inside of us (i.e. the Holy Spirit of Christ), and yet, do nothing?

5.) Down In A Hole by Alice in Chains

The funeral song of the addicted. Lead singer, Layne Staley, shown the video, died of an overdose (a cocaine and heroin cocktail). His decomposed body wasn’t found for days. I’ve never experienced an addiction, and so, won’t dare to say I know what it’s like. But I know God can deliver the most hardened addict, if someone will just lay their life down for Jesus to make Him known to the lost.

6.) Outside by Staind and Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam by Nirvana

Some people have such a low self-esteem, all they can see is the negative, not only in themselves, but also in others. They think it impossible that anything good in life exists. These suffer from such a sense of self-loathing, they think no one, not even God, can love them. The devil has such people so bound into their own sense of condemnation, the very idea of salvation seems a joke.

So, let’s be real examples of the truth to such people, to show them with much love, patience, and mercy, that they can be and are loved, especially by God.

7.) Hurt by Johnny Cash, Originally by Nine Inch Nails (Warning: one uncensored use the word hell, used in an un-Biblical manner, plus a depiction of the crucifixion of Christ)

Some think they are so far gone, not even God can save them. They identify themselves as irredeemable. Abandoned and alone. All they have is their pain. The hurt they feel is the only thing that lets them know they are still alive. Nothing to live for, nothing to die for. Just a life of empty numbness until oblivion. But deep down, in some nearly forgotten place in a heart that feels like it has died, is a whimpering voice, trying to hold on.

But let me ask you, saint. How long can such a person hold on? We are the Body of Messiah on earth. We are to preach the Gospel to every creature, not just the ones we think want to hear it. Not to just the ones that seem acceptable to our spiritual palate. But to all. Even to the farthest end to the farthest shore to the farthest soul. We must reach!

8.) Man That You Fear by Marilyn Manson (Warning: This video contains two edited out curse words, heavy thematic elements, some disturbing images, and an all around morbid sense of foreboding)

And finally, the last depressing reminder. The one that I remember the most. The one that used to describe me best. The God-hating antichrist who would rather die than be saved. My brethren, I beg of you, I beseech you, please turn the other cheek and do not dismiss! When you throw away someone like Marilyn Manson, you throw me away, too. But God be praised, there were saints in my life, dedicated, and holy, living out the love of God in Christ, who didn’t turn their backs on me. They took me as I was, raging, hating, Christ-killing sinner that I was, and now look. They won me to the Lord over 11 years ago.

You might know someone like this. They might be a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor. And all you want to do is pray they go away, move away, never come around, because their demonically depressed life just doesn’t gel with the righteousness, peace, and joy you get to experience in the Holy Spirit. If so, friend, you missed it. The Lord Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power to go about doing good, to heal all those who were oppressed of the devil. Jesus didn’t flinch in the face of the worst humanity has to offer, and neither should we. We have the same anointing of the Holy Spirit, the same power. It is our calling to go about doing the same good, healing the same way.

To conclude, I just want to express my love for God but also my concern for the church. I fear we have lost the vision. We preach to and reach out for the handsome crowd, the popular ones, the ones that would fit in nicely with the church we’ve already got. He looks like a good man. I wonder how he would tithe? She seems smart. We sure need help in the Sunday school department.

Come on! If the above summarizes the whole of our evangelistic efforts, then SHAME ON US! Yes, I know iniquity is depressing. Yes, I know wading into the sins of others to try and bring them into the kingdom of God is hard work, rarely enjoyable, often disappointing, and usually ugly. But I leave you to consider the following:

Several years ago, a brother in the Lord spoke the following prophetic utterance to his local assembly:

Souls drowning in the deep. Weeping and dying in the deep. No one goes to them...

Dear Reader. Jesus went to the cross for such people. We owe it to our Savior to go just as far.

Peace and God bless,

Aaron

A Short Apostolic Refutation of Predestination

•06/03/2014 • Leave a Comment

If there is a false doctrine I hate more, I have yet to find it. Predestination, as it has been embraced, goes right to the heart of God. Is God love or is He something else? As will be seen, to believe in a Calvinistic view of Predestination, is to make God out to be a vile, unworthy creature of the lowest, cruelest sort.

I don’t mean to disparage anyone who has come to believe in such a doctrine; rather, with sword firmly in hand, I intend to rightly divide the Word and cut this error down for what it is. With that in mind, I give you my refutation (“short” as it is)..

Introduction

The false doctrine of predestination, while attempting to appear pious and humble, is in fact an affront to the love and mercy of God. This view of God’s saving act and the sending of His Son Jesus Christ into the world to ransom and redeem sinners detracts and defames all that is holy and righteous about God. As will be seen further on in this study, the contempt for God and His grace which predestination espouses is malicious, even malevolent. Furthermore, since and because this false doctrine is in fact, false, i.e. unbiblical, by the end of this study, we will conclude that such views must be stringently rejected, and hence, refuted, by any and all who hold dear the truths of God’s Eternal Word.

Definitions

When we use the word predestination, in a religious, or even secular context, we are speaking of any decision or outcome which has been made or determined beforehand and, as such, was and is deemed to be valid and just from that vantage point. An example would be as follows:

Mr. Johnson, believing that no self-respecting young woman should date before the age of eighteen, upon having a daughter, determined in his mind that any man who attempted to court her prior to her reaching adult maturity, was a good-for-nothing scoundrel looking to shame his family. Therefore, when Mr. Johnson’s daughter, Evelyn, was seventeen, and a nice young man, also seventeen, invited her out to meet with some friends for an ice cream social, Mr. Johnson strenuously objected, even refusing his daughter the opportunity to go. Without knowing anything about the young man, or the innocent nature of his motives, Mr. Johnson, on account of his own will, judged the situation to be improper, and out of that judgment, acted accordingly. Neither Evelyn nor the young man could do anything about it. Mr. Johnson’s mind was already made up. Evelyn was forbidden. Whether right or wrong, even before she was born, Mr. Johnson had already predestinated His daughter to living a life without social dating prior to her eighteenth birthday. It was a decision made by his will, not hers. From his point of view, she had no say, nor right to say, anything about it. His current decision, based in a decision made long ago, was final.

As this example shows, when we speak of something or someone being predestined, we speak of the fact that, even against a person’s will and the freedom to choose, their future has already been decided by the will of a superior power, in this case Mr. Johnson. Here, words like fate or even doom may be applied. Within a religious context, when considering the false doctrine of predestination, we speak of God being the superior power, and of Him predestining people to either eternal life (i.e. Heaven) or eternal death (i.e. Hell) without any act of the individual will or the freedom to choose against such a predetermined fate. In fact, when we speak of this predetermined course for the individual soul of all who have or will live, we speak of God making His decisions prior to all of human existence, out of the good pleasure of God.*

(*We will return to this italicized phrase later.)

Origins

The false doctrine of predestination, which proponents say appears in the writings of the Apostle Paul, and also, as it is inferred, from other portions of the Bible, actually owes much of its creation to a man known as St. Augustine.

St. Augustine, a theologian from the mid-4th to mid-5th centuries, and Catholic Bishop of the city of Hippo until his death in 430 A.D. was the first, main proponent of this doctrine. While other church fathers prior to Augustine had made a casual reference to the ideas, he actually plowed deeply into it (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, Ch. 9, Sec. 158). In his work against the Plegians, Augustine laid out the idea that God’s grace was unmerited by moral man, and as such, the grace which flows only from God meant that only God, in an act of His sovereign will, could save anyone. From this idea came the view that, since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), if God, by His own sovereignty, and on account of His own sense of justice, decided to leave men to their own sinful devices up until the day of Divine Judgment so that all were damned to eternal death, then so be it. God would still be righteous to do so, since the sinfulness in man is what merited the eternal separation from God in the first place.

Therefore, since “[a]ll men are only a mass of perdition, and deserve, both for their innate and their actual sin, temporal and eternal death…” (Ibid), God, should He so choose out of the pleasure of His own will, decide to enact grace upon some, and by this, elect them to salvation, then so be it. Saving some is therefore an admirable demonstration of God’s love and mercy, if and since, He didn’t have to save anyone. Regarding Augustine’s view of predestination, Schaff concludes, “God is but just, if He leave a great portion, nay…the greatest portion, of mankind to their deserved fate. But He has resolved from eternity to reveal in some His grace, by rescuing them from the mass of perdition, and without their merit saving them”.

It is from these ancient views that the more modern version of predestination takes its cue. And that modern version starts in the 16th century with a man named John Calvin.

John Calvin

John Calvin was a theologian and prolific writer on theology and the Christian religion. His work, Institutes of Christian Religion, a collection of four massive books written in 1536, still stands the test of time as the official theological work of the entire reformed movement of the Protestant faith. In this, he sets out, often quoting Augustine, to show, prove, and therefore teach the doctrine of predestination. From Book 3, Chapter 21, titled “Of the eternal election, by which God has predestinated some to salvation, and others to destruction”, in Section 5, Calvin defines predestination as follows:

“By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.”

This view, that some are created only so that God will destroy them, while others are created to be saved, flows out of a larger context. While not employed by Calvin himself, over time, an acronym has been assigned to his chief doctrines regarding sin, salvation, and the work of God in redeeming humanity back to Himself. This larger context is given below:

T.U.L.I.P.

T.U.L.I.P., as a mnemonic device, stands for the following (with a short summary of each):

T = Total Depravity (That humanity, through the applied guilt of Adam’s sin, is completely corrupted and cannot do anything within the realm of their personal will to bring about their own salvation, even to the point of not being able to want or being able to choose to want God to save them)

U = Unconditional Election (Election to salvation is not merited by humanity; rather it is an act of God’s sovereign will apart from any sense of redeemable quality within mankind. Further, God’s election to salvation is, by being unconditional, not based on His own prescience [i.e. foreknowledge]. This means that God made His decision to save some and damn others without looking forward into the future to see if any were worthy of saving for Heaven, or deserving of Hell. God made all decisions for all individual souls prior to and without knowing anything about anyone. While it is confessed that God knows everything, His knowledge was not and is not the motivating factor behind the election. Merely, as will be shown later, Calvin insists, God’s election is achieved by and through His own good pleasure, no more, no less.)

L = Limited Atonement (This is the view, held by Calvin, that Christ’s atoning death on the cross is only for the elect, i.e. that Jesus did not die for all. He only died for those already predestined to be saved according to God’s unconditional election.)

I = Irresistible Grace (From this, Calvin asserts that apart from any initial desire to be saved, God targets those He has already predestined with such a grace that all objections and rejections of the same fail and that, as such, the targeted person cannot help, yea, is even forced to be saved against their initial will. Of course, once God overwhelms the initial will, then the person is more than willing to be saved.)

P = Perseverance of the Saints (The basic idea that once one is saved, he or she is and will always be saved, i.e. that it is impossible for the elect to choose damnation as an act of will. God again forces those He has initially predestined to be saved to automatically stay saved, NO MATTER WHAT, all the way to Glory.)

These five concepts make up the core of Calvin’s theological and soteriological doctrines. For him, all flows from and through these ideas. They are unalterable and eternal. They cannot be avoided, nor fought against. They are, as it were, written in stone by God Himself. Nothing and no one can change them.

To conclude our section on John Calvin and his views of predestination, we use his own words:

“We shall never feel persuaded as we ought that our salvation flows from the free mercy of God as its fountain, until we are made acquainted with his eternal election, the grace of God being illustrated by the contrast, viz., that he does not adopt all promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what he denies to others” (From Section 1, Chapter 3, Book 3, Institutes of Christian Religion)

“Not prescience [i.e. foreknowledge], but the good pleasure of God the cause of predestination” (From a summary of Section 5, Chapter 3, Book 3, Institutes of Christian Religion).

Effectively, Calvin here insists that God volitionally chooses to damn some of those he creates, even prior to their creation, out of what Calvin calls God’s own sense of “good pleasure”. Essentially, it is pleasing to God to create only to destroy (Compare to Ezekiel 18:30-32). That somehow God enjoys assigning to damnation multitudes that had no choice in their creation, and couldn’t help but be subjected to the law of sin given to us by Adam. So, though not our fault, but rather God’s, for being created, and because our prime ancestor sinned against God thousands of years ago, many of us are automatically damned without hope and without any chance of ever being saved, since and because, for those of us who end up in Hell, Jesus never died for our sins, anyways (Compare to Romans 8:20, which tells us all of creation was subjected to the hope of God). The Gospel cannot effect in us anything, should we be part of that number who are predestined to eternal death. We can read the Scriptures, see the promises of salvation and heaven, want it desperately, seek it diligently, and pray for it fervently, but never achieve it, supposedly because God wills us to be lost. Even moreso, supposedly, we can’t even want what Scripture offers us, because our will to be saved is non-existent. We are so totally depraved and corrupted, none of us ever wants out of our sins. Only God gives that desire, and only to a select, or rather, elect few.

Some History on Calvin

John Calvin wrote commentaries on sixty-three of the sixty-six books of the Bible. He left off writing about 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation, claiming he “did not understand” them (Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries, p. 305). It’s a shame he did not understand them, for in them, especially Revelation, Calvin would have found ample proof that his doctrine was false. Examples include:

2 John 1:8-11,

8. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
9. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

According to the Apostle John, it is possible for the saved to lose things already wrought. Further, anyone is capable of transgressing by not abiding in the doctrine of Christ. One must first abide in the doctrine before one can choose to transgress and thereby not abide. Such who do, even the saved, lose their relationship with God. Verses 10 and 11 show how someone in the church, i.e. the elect of God, can wrongly choose to allow deceivers and antichrists (v. 8) into their houses and in fact, not only so, but actually, also bless them (i.e. bid them God speed). This mistake by the saved causes the saved to partake of the evil deeds of both antichrists and deceivers. This begs the question, how can someone automatically saved by predestined election by an act of God’s grace, be open to such folly and mischief? If God is able to save people against their initial will and cause them to stay saved forever, why is God not capable of keeping the elect from losing things they have wrought, or of transgressing against Him by not abiding in true Christian doctrine, or of not being able to maintain a relationship with Him through such a transgression. And finally, why can’t God stop His elect from allowing antichrists and deceivers into their homes in order to bless them and through the blessing, partake of their evil deeds?

Surely, if God can violate human will by irresistibly drawing people to Himself and forcing their salvation by making them believe on the Lord Jesus, surely He could preserve such overthrown people from failing to heed this Apostolic warning? After all, what would be the point of the warning, unless, out of free will, a saint may against God’s grace, choose to become a sinner, deny Him, and lose their place among the elect?

3 John 1:11,

11. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

It appears that the Apostle knows that those of the beloved elect have a choice to make. They can choose to do that which is good, and therefore, be “of God“, or they can choose to follow that which is evil, and blind themselves to God entirely. Again, it comes down to the choice of individual free will. Christian saints must choose every day to live faithfully in the promises of their covenant with God. God does not make us; rather, He empowers and allows us to choose right out of love toward the Savior. This relationship with God is a marriage (Isaiah 54:5). Marriage is a willing contract made between two parties. Both enter into it freely. Otherwise, it’s merely kidnapping and rape. Our human marriage proves this, as our marriage is the perfect typology between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). The Bible is clear. The relationship between God and the Church is not between a Master and a Slave, but rather between a Husband and His Beloved Wife.

Revelation 2:4-5,

4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick [i.e. the church of Ephesus, from Revelation 1:20] out of his place, except thou repent.

Here the Lord Jesus severely warns one of His own local churches, who are members of the Body of Christ, and therefore of the elect, that except they repent, He will personally uproot them. If the Lord should choose to do so against His own elect, how is it that they can still be “once saved, always saved”? Further what would be the point of predestining these people to salvation as the chosen elect of God only to later remove them from His presence and dissolve His relationship with them for rejecting the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering (that is, the qualities of God that lead people to repentance according to Romans 2:4)? That’s some strange salvation. It would be like God saying, “Before I knew anything about you, I chose to save you long, long before I created you (knowing you would inherit a law of sin which would totally corrupt and deprave you), and now that you are here, a totally depraved sinner, I am forcing you, against your will, to be saved, but, once you are saved, after some time, because of some choices you make, I am cutting you off and removing your salvation, even undoing My original predestined plan for your life, even though I am supposed to keep you saved forever once I decided beforehand to make you be saved.” Does that make any sense at all?

Revelation 3:16-17,

16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing’ and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked…

These statements are made to a different assembly of supposedly elect, this time, in and from Laodicea. If the Lord is willing to spue or spit them out of His mouth, certainly they are on the verge of losing their salvation. And we can be assured that they are or at least were saved, for only those who are members in Christ’s body are the Church, and only the Church are the elect (See Colossians 1:2, 3:12, and especially 4:16). So what does the Lord say afterwards?

Revelation 3:20,

20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him…

Is this irresistible grace or a choice being given by a compassionate Savior waiting for His backsliding children to come back to Him of their own accord (See Luke 15:11-32)? Irresistible grace would say that the Lord kicks down the door and forces people to open to Him, whether they want to or not. Grace is the knock at the door. But there is a big IF associated with the grace given. It must be received. It can be ignored.

So, in sum, had Calvin better understood these three books, he would have undoubtedly come to a different conclusion, and through such, would have changed his mind (i.e. repented). He would no longer have held to the false doctrine he once espoused. The Word of God would have changed His heart. But since he did not, his own words haunt him:

“If we give due weight to the consideration, that the word of the Lord is the only way which can conduct us to the investigation of whatever it is lawful for us to hold with regard to him – is the only light which can enable us to discern what we ought to see with regard to him, it will curb and restrain all presumption. For it will show us that the moment we go beyond the bounds of the word we are out of the course, in darkness, and must every now and then stumble, go astray, and fall. Let it, therefore, be our first principle that to desire any other knowledge of predestination than that which is expounded by the word of God, is no less infatuated than to walk where there is no path, or to seek light in darkness” (Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 2, Institutes of Christian Religion, emphasis mine).

If only Calvin had heeded his own advice and had not gone beyond “the bounds of the [W]ord”, millions of people then and today would not then have been and not now be led astray into this most pernicious of false doctrines.

Miguel Servetus

Miguel Servetus was a Spanish theologian, doctor, philosopher, and all around genius of a man. He was also a contemporary of John Calvin. Servetus severely despised Calvin’s Institutes, and let the man know it by rewriting it and sending it back to him, amended, as it were, by Servetus’s own views and beliefs. This incited Calvin to a level of hatred for Servetus that led to the eventual arrest and martyrdom of the Hunted Heretic (See Roland Bainton, Hunted Heretic).

In 1553, Calvin had Servetus arrested, and along with his partner Guillaume Farel, Calvin used his power and influence in the state government to have Servetus tried for heresy. In letters still in existence, it can clearly be seen that from the get go, Calvin wanted Servetus executed (Ibid.). Statements like, “If I have anything to say about it, Servetus will not leave Geneva alive” (Ibid.) were made by Calvin.

Eventually Calvin’s influence won out, the trial came to an end, and Servetus was sentenced to death by immolation. Copies of Servetus’ work, Christianity Restored, were seized, with some being used as kindling. One copy was chained around Servetus’s neck as he was led, with a crown of sulfur upon his head, to a pyre of green logs. Chained against the post, the fire was begun. Being that the wood was new, and somewhat wet, it took a long time before it burst into a suitable flame to consume Servetus’s life. Half an hour after the flame was lit, Servetus finally expired, with his last words forever condemning John Calvin as a murderer:

“Jesus, Son of the Eternal God, have mercy on me!”

The sad thing is, Servetus wasn’t the only one. In fact, fifty-eight people were executed under Calvin’s orders (Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries, p. 304). But what saith the Scriptures? 1 John 3:15 reads, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him“. Any guesses where John Calvin is these days? So why believe anything that mad man had to say? He was a murderer. Just like Satan (John 8:44). And just like Satan, whose murderous deeds are bound up in his lies, so, too, were Calvin’s. His promulgation of false doctrines led him to have murdered fifty-nine people. There isn’t a known mass murderer in the history of the United States who is guilty of that much death.

Scriptural Support?

So now that an introduction, some definitions and origins, and the main proponents of predestination have been reviewed, and all found to be wanting, what does an analysis of the Scriptures prove? Is there any Biblical support for this doctrine? It’s an important question, because, should there be support from God’s Word, then the assertion being so far made, that this doctrine is false, is in error. So, to answer we turn to the chief “proof texts” used by predestination believers.

Interestingly, the first thing to note is that the word predestination is not found in Scripture. Only close variations—two to be exact—are. They are predestinate and its past tense, predestinated. It can be supposed, that since we are using the King James Version, we may update the language to simply read predestine and predestined. From these two words, one may construct an umbrella concept called predestination. Now that this has been established, let’s look at the three main verses: Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11, and Romans 8:29. They read:

Ephesians 1:5,

5. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:11,

11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Romans 8:29-30,

29. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Now, let’s take a look at them and see what they have to say, i.e. what they really mean. There is no doubt that these verses refer to predestination. In all three, the Greek word is proorizo. It means to limit in advance, i.e. to predetermine (Strong’s Concordance of the Bible). Thayer defines proorizo to mean to predetermine, decide beforehand, of God decreeing from eternity (i.e. before time), or to foreordain. Vines tells us that this word means to make a choice, admitting that the implications of such are widely debated.

So, if God predetermined, decided beforehand, decreed from before time, or made a choice to foreordain us, then surely there shouldn’t be anything to debate? The matter is cut and dried, and therefore settled, right? Right? Wrong.

The first thing to do is to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, who stated that “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), meaning that one verse of Scripture cannot be used against another to trump the first. Basically, all verses are inspired by God and have equal weight. If there is an apparent contradiction, one cannot simply decide which verse they like more, agree only with it (and not the other), and by such, come against the other verse and be against what it states or teaches. Rather, harmony must be found for all verses relating to a given topic. So, if three verses seem to indicate that some humans are predestined to be saved, then all the rest of Scripture must agree with these three, or else the Scripture has been broken.

The problem is there are verses that do not agree with that view (They will be addressed in the next section). An even bigger problem is taking a superficial reading of these three verses and not coming to a mature understanding of what’s being said. In order to agree with all the whole counsel of God, these three verses must fit within the greater context of all that the Scriptures have to say on the matter. So, the better thing to do, instead of using three verses to establish a hard and fast doctrine, is to use all of Scripture to come to a proper understanding of the three verses, so that a doctrine that is compatible with all God has to say in His Word is created. So, with that being said, let’s begin.

According to the doctrine of predestination, God did not use any aspect of His prescience to predetermine who would be saved and who would be lost. But look at what Romans 8:29 says. It states that this form of predestination was based on those God foreknew. And there’s nothing secret or hidden about the word foreknew. It means exactly that: to know beforehand. While Calvin and those that espouse this false doctrine would have us believe that God only chooses some to be saved, that is, he does not, as Calvin worded it, “adopt all promiscuously to the hope of salvation”, it must then be asked, is there anyone that God did not foreknow? If, as Romans 8:29 indicates, that those God knew beforehand are the ones He predestinated, then that must mean that God, in foreknowing all people for all time, predestinated everyone. And to what? Romans 8:30 reads that those whom God predestinated He also called. And those He called, He also justified, even glorified, i.e. saved. So it looks, if what predestination teaches is true, that before time, God saved everyone. So no one is lost. Predestination now teaches universalism. But that cannot be so, since predestination supposedly teaches some are decided to be lost according to God’s good pleasure. There now exists a contradiction, caused by what the Word of God teaches, within the doctrine of predestination. And where there is contradiction, there is something broken. And if broken, then it’s no good, even useless, especially as a doctrine upon which to build one’s eternal life.

So, that’s Romans 8:29-30. What about the two verses from Ephesians? Can anything resembling predestination, as it has come to be understood, be salvaged? Well, once it’s realized that predestination is based on God’s foreknowledge, and that God foreknows all people, but that, even so, not all people will be saved, something else must be meant in Ephesians 1.

Notice in verse 5 how Paul refers to “us“. Who is the “us“? Obviously it refers to the saved church members in Ephesus, and indeed, to the saved everywhere. And what did Paul write about the saved people in Ephesus? He wrote how they had first trusted in Christ after hearing the Word of Truth, and because they trusted, were now sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:12-14). What’s the big deal? This: the “us” of this book refers to those who trusted in Christ after hearing His Word preached to them. They were saved when they trusted. Not when God forcibly caused them to want to be saved, but when they freely placed their trust in Christ as the Gospel was preached (See Acts 19:1-6 for when this happened). They made a decision. This decision worked in harmony with God’s will for them to be saved, but they still had to make the decision. Trust is faith, and faith is a choice to believe or not. They still had to hear the Gospel first. They weren’t saved by God until after they heard the Word and decided to trust It. Prior to that, they were as lost as everyone else. They were part of the “mass of perdition” that Augustine mentioned and Calvin upheld to be true. So I guess they weren’t forced to be saved by God before the world began, after all. Rather, they were allowed to be saved by God according to the plan He willed into existence to save sinners through Jesus Christ before the world began.

It’s like this: God made up His mind beforehand to save people. He chose to do so through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). He also decided that people must place their complete trust in what Jesus did for them in order to be saved. He also predetermined that, if someone should completely trust Christ (i.e. obey the Gospel) then He would without a doubt, in His good pleasure, automatically save them. So, when someone, like the Ephesians, hears the Word and believes in Jesus, God’s predestined plan to save occurs. They meet the requirements for what God has already decided must be done according to His own will.

That is the “us“. We only get predestinated to the adoption of sons and to the inheritance of salvation when we get saved, not before. When we obey the Gospel, God’s predetermined plan goes into action. But we are the trigger. We flip the switch that allows God’s saving promise to come to pass in our lives. Yes, God’s grace invites us, even attempts to influence us to pull the trigger and flip the switch. But we are still the ones who decide. Not God. God has made it so, that if the first step is taken, He will meet us with what He has already decided we need, which is to be saved. And this salvation is for everyone, even as the rest of the Holy Scriptures declares.

Further Refutations

2 Peter 3:9,

9. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

So God doesn’t want any to be lost? I thought it was God’s good pleasure to send people to Hell on account of the fact that He predestined them to be lost before time began? But the Bible tells us differently. It says that God doesn’t want anyone to be lost and go to Hell. And if God has the power to cause people to not be able to resist His grace, and if He doesn’t want anyone to perish or be lost, then why doesn’t He send this irresistible grace to all people, and through this, save everyone? It’s what God wants, after all, isn’t it? This Scripture says so. But either God doesn’t want everyone to be saved (making this verse out to be a lie) or He isn’t capable of causing people to not be able to resist His grace (making the doctrine of predestination a lie). Which is it? Is the Bible wrong? Or is it predestination? You decide. I’m sticking with the Bible.

2 Timothy 2:3-4,

3. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Again, God doesn’t want anyone to be lost. Rather, God our Savior wills that all people be saved. And yet we know that not all will. This means that God’s will is not the sole means of people being saved. The human will must interact with God’s will. Otherwise, God would immediately and irrevocably save everyone. He would automatically cause all people to come to the knowledge of the truth and, by so doing, automatically save everyone. And if predestination were true, God would have the power to do so, what with His irresistible grace and all. Even though we are all supposedly totally depraved, God, by willing that all be saved, would send His irresistible grace to all, and in so doing, overcome all initial objections and rejections, and save us, letting His will violate ours, meaning we really have no will at all. But, because we now know that predestination is not true, we also know that God does not send irresistible grace to all people. Rather, it’s good old fashioned regular grace, to be received or rejected as we see fit. Yes, Christ stands at the door and knocks, but we must be the ones to open.

1 John 2:2,

2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

So much for limited atonement. How can any so-called man of God dare teach that Jesus didn’t die and therefore didn’t atone for all of humanity in the face of this Scripture? Shame on them. Jesus’ death was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world! This means that, should anyone come to have faith in what the Lord did for them at Calvary, they can be saved. The blood is for everyone who wants it. It just so happens that not everyone does, much to the chagrin of God our Savior.

John 3:16-18,

16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Whosoever believeth“. That means anyone. Again, so long limited atonement. You’re out of line with God’s Word. Everlasting life is predicated upon faith. If anyone chooses to believe, they will receive everlasting life. If not, then not. In fact, the Greek word for whosoever is pas, meaning all or every. So all and everyone who believes gets saved. And look at verse 17. God sent His Son to save the world, not condemn it. Well, that’s strange, if predestination is true. Because, according to it, God already condemned billions of people to Hell based off of His good pleasure (and not because they refused to believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God). And since, should predestination be true, and the limited atonement be as well, when Christ died for the few, His death sealed the deal and caused all the unelected to be lost. But, since we have already proven time and again that predestination is false, we can safely and securely know that all we have to do to avoid condemnation is believe in Jesus. We don’t have to worry whether or not God condemned us to Hell millennia ago. We can, right now, by faith, accept the atonement and propitiation given to the world by God through His Son, and know we are saved.

Acts 10:34-35,

34. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35. But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Another verse triumphing over predestination. The Apostle Peter, the one with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:16-18), has bound on earth, and therefore, it is bound in heaven, that God does not play favorites (compare to Calvin’s statement that not all people are equal in God’s eyes, but that some are more special because they were chosen to the election) and that, in whatever nation there is in the world, if a person fears God and works righteousness, i.e. lives according to God’s will and does the right thing in their daily life, God accepts them and will usher him or her into His Kingdom, just like Cornelius, who is the focus of this chapter. So much for total depravity. People, even heathens, out of their conscience, can recognize that God exists, especially as Creator, and choose to fear Him. They can, out of their conscience, do the right thing, as God has programmed into all people the ability to tell right from wrong (Romans 2:11-15, especially v. 14).

Finally, Revelation 22:17,

17. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The fifth to the last verse of inspired Holy Scripture. One of the very last things God wanted the world to know is that His Spirit and His Bride, the Church are inviting the world to the covenant of grace. Anyone who hears is invited. Anyone who thirsts is welcome (See Isaiah 55). And, as was the case in John 3:16, “whosoever will“, may come and drink the water of life, i.e. the Holy Spirit, freely. Whosoever means any he or she that will, and freely means gratuitously, without cause or merit, even undeservedly. Anyone who wants the baptism of the Holy Spirit and who wants to be adopted by that Spirit into God’s Kingdom is welcome. God promised to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). His grace, which saves (Ephesians 2:8) has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11). God has reached out to and revealed Himself to everyone everywhere, in all times, even today (Jeremiah 16:19-20, Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 10:18), and surely into tomorrow and further on into the future, God’s grace will appear to men, women, and children, not because they deserve it, but because He loves everyone equally and wants all people everywhere to be saved, hence the injunction to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Since the Lord Jesus Christ was lifted up in crucifixion, God will use His Spirit to reach out to, touch, and try to draw to Himself all people (John 6:44 and John 12:32). If that Spirit is welcomed, It will come into that individual’s life and save them. No one is predestined to be lost, unless and only if they refuse the grace of God. Yes, people will die in their sins. But no one has to. They choose to. God does not force them to be lost beyond their control. If they want redemption, Jesus Christ has made the way. It’s open for all who want it.

As the Scriptures constantly affirm: Whosoever will…

Conclusion

Predestination is, like all false teachings, a false doctrine straight out of hell. It presumes to damn billions of people without so much as a tear of concern for their eternal torment. Worse, it turns God into a sadistic monster that goes about creating people only to kill them in their sins simply because they could not help but be what God created them to be: human, descended from Adam, contaminated with and corrupted by a law of sin. No one in their right mind would choose to be a sinner and therefore be separated from God. We cannot help it. Adam goofed it for everyone (See Romans 5). But God sent His Son Jesus Christ to fix it for everyone, too, if we want to be fixed (See Romans 5, as well). This short refutation didn’t use a lot of Scriptures to make its point, and it didn’t need to. It very easily destroyed the false doctrine predestination in just a few passages. Like a master chess player against an amateur, the Word of God annihilates all who oppose It.

Calvin was a murderer. It is he who blasphemed God with such a disgusting doctrine. Augustine, while perhaps more compassionate than Calvin, still belonged to a greater system of false doctrine, namely the Catholic Church. We cannot hope to assume that he got much of anything right, either. Truth is truth, 100%. It’s only when the saints of God are not careful, and allow things which they have wrought to be lost, that the false doctrines preached by antichrists and deceivers take us down and remove our hope of being saved. Yes, God is not promiscuous. But God is love (1 John 4:8) and a loving God gives all people everywhere a chance to be saved.

Whoever reads this, I beg you to sincerely pray and meditate on what God’s Word really says. You can know you are saved. You do not have to worry about some capricious whim of an indifferent god who makes arbitrary decisions about your eternal fate millennia before he creates you. You can stand up and be counted as one of God’s righteous elect. But you must choose. It’s all been done for you. God did predetermine everything necessary for your salvation in Christ. He made the way. He’s just waiting on you.

My Experience with the Gifts of the Spirit

•05/15/2014 • 2 Comments

1 Corinthians 12:1-11,

1. Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

What follows is my experience with the Gifts of the Spirit…

The Gift of Diverse Tongues

I was a semi-new convert (less than two years saved). We were having a fellowship among 20-somethings, kind of like a college and career age group. We had a Bible study, and we prayed afterward. The power of the Spirit was acutely manifested. No one dared stop praying or worshiping.

In the middle of it all, an intense heat fell upon my face. I realized in time that the Gift of Diverse Tongues was present before me; all I had to do was speak, and it would happen.

But I paused, in mental debate. I knew the Word. Without an interpreter, one should keep silence (1 Corinthians 14:28). I considered who was in the room, and knowing none but one had ever been used in the Interpretation of Diverse Tongues (as far as I knew), I decided that perhaps I should not speak. I prayed quietly, “Lord, is there an interpreter”? A strong impression that there was not one present came to my mind, so I did not speak.

The next church service (two days later), the same fiery feeling came upon me. I again waited, and prayed if an interpretation would be present should I speak a diverse tongue. Almost immediately, God impressed upon me an affirmative, so without hesitation, I spoke in the diverse tongue God had given me, and it was interpreted.

Some amount of time later, in a different church service, I again felt the same feeling, and prayed if there was an interpretation. Believing there would be one present, I began to speak. The pastor at the time immediately shut it down and said it wasn’t from God. I silenced myself immediately.

But I was bothered all day, knowing it was from God, but not being able to prove my subjectivity was more than that. I started to get angry and offended. There was a church fellowship later that night. I couldn’t shake my anger. So I went into the bathroom and prayed, forgiving and letting it go. As I came out of the bathroom, the pastor came to me directly and apologized to me for quenching the Spirit earlier in the day during church service and for silencing me. I forgave and all was well.

The next time it occurred I was standing in the back row. I didn’t feel the fire anymore, but knew what God was doing. This time, however, I felt a check in my spirit to consider the following verse:

1 Corinthians 14:30,

30. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

I took a moment to ask God if He was by chance revealing something to another person. As soon as I did so, another person spoke in a diverse tongue, and it was interpreted.

Since these early experiences, God has used me I would say about less than ten times in diverse tongues.

The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues

I’ve only been used by God in this gift a handful of times. The first time was in a prayer meeting our campus ministry was having. Two different people spoke in diverse tongues. We waited. I didn’t really know what I was doing with this one, but felt God was giving me some words to speak, and so I did. It was a bit rusty, but one person present did feel that some of what I said was from God, as the words in question applied to their, at the time, present situation.

Another time during a church service, someone spoke a diverse tongue. I felt right away that God gave me the interpretation and so spoke. The pastor said what I had said wasn’t the interpretation, but was instead a prophecy, and so, he instructed the church to seek the interpretation. I thought that made no sense, but was okay with it. Someone then interpreted. It was then inferred that what I had was legit and from God, but that it was out of the order God wanted to move, i.e. I should have waited until the diverse tongue was interpreted, then spoke. I thought differently, but didn’t make a stink about it.

There has been only maybe two or three other times that I’ve ventured out to interpret a diverse tongue (that I can recall). I just don’t feel much unction in this gift.

The Gifts of Healing and/or the Working of Miracles

Since these two can overlap each other, I include them both. The reader can decide which of the two I’m describing.

When I was a very new convert (less than six months), on a random trip to a gas station, I saw an old friend working there that I hadn’t seen in years. She had just gotten off the phone and was in tears. Without delay, I asked what was wrong. She said “I just found out my cancer is back”. I didn’t even know she had had cancer (she had moved to California for an operation and recovery, hence why I hadn’t seen her for so long).

She did not know I had become a Christian. I told her about it and asked her if she would let me pray for her. She agreed, coming down around the desk, to where I was standing. I gave her a big hug and prayed “Jesus please heal my friend _______ of cancer”. I may have prayed other things, but I don’t recall. I hung out with her for the next several hours, even while she worked. We talked and caught up on old times. We exchanged phone numbers. She had an appointment made with her oncologist the following Monday.

Monday came and at 11:42 AM she called me. I asked how it went. She said “You’re not going to believe this”. Of course I began to get excited and started to smile and said “Try me”. She said “The doctor said I am completely cancer free”. Of course I rejoiced, but only in my mind. I asked her “How do you suppose that happened”? I was hoping she would acknowledge the work of God in her life. Instead she said “Well, someone must have a lot of faith…”. She meant me. She would not acknowledge that Jesus healed her. I refused to take the credit.

‘Til this day she hasn’t openly confessed her healing. She even showed me the CT scan proving she had again had cancer. But not once did she give the Lord the glory (at least to me). In fact, she then went on, on a different day several months later, to blame God for a different medical condition she had been born with (a deviation in one her heart’s valves, if memory serves).

On a separate occasion, a man who had had a heart attack a few months prior was in church one particular Sunday morning. He said he was having angina, and would be leaving the service to go to the hospital. The pastor had us pray for him and some other men who had heart conditions.

I laid one hand directly over his heart and lifted my other hand to the Lord and prayed. He lifted his hands. I was the only one in direct contact with him. We prayed. I felt a rush of power literally move through me, like electricity from my raised hand across my chest into my other hand into his body. He felt it, too. God immediately healed him of his angina.

My brother and I were asked to come and minister to a sister’s aunt, who had pancreatic cancer. We both spoke, and shared the Good News. I testified how God had healed my friend of her cervical cancer. At the end, we all laid hands on her and prayed.

Immediately her appetite came back to her (she hadn’t eaten in a few days). Her color improved and she said she was feeling better.

A few weeks later, she was in the hospital with pains. I went. The sister was there, too. We prayed for her aunt, who was mostly sedated.

The sister came back later on in the month to tell the church that her aunt was cancer free and healed (from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer).

These are the big three. There are other healing that have occurred when I’ve prayed for people, including for myself, my wife, or my kids. They don’t stand out the same way, however.

The Gift of Faith

God first seemed to begin using me in this gift as He led me to become a children’s evangelist (local only to our own Sunday school, however).

The first child to ever receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in our local assembly was five years old. He was a student of mine. At the end of the hour, I felt that we should pray for this child. We did, and although some time passed, he started speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave him utterance.

The next child, also five years old, and also one of my students, came up to me while I was in the back of the sanctuary ushering. She wanted me to pick her up, so I did. It was during song service, and we were all worshiping God. She heard me speak in tongues (since she was so close, even though I was being quiet). She asked me some questions about it. I answered her questions and asked her if she would like to receive the Holy Spirit. She nodded yes. I led her through a prayer of repentance and a prayer of faith. She received the Holy Spirit, quietly speaking in tongues, with her head down on my shoulder.

I went to the front and told the pastor, even as she continued. He announced it to the whole church. I helped take the offering with her in my arms, still speaking in tongues. When I got to the back, I handed her off to her mom, who was crying.

Within a year or so after that, close to 20 different kids at our church received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all speaking in tongues. Of that number, two received it elsewhere (i.e. I wasn’t the one praying with them).

In addition to children, God has used me with both teens and adults in the gift of faith, when they were seeking the Holy Spirit. But I’ve never kept track in this area, so I don’t know the number.

If I’ve ever been used in the gift of faith apart from praying with people to receive the Holy Spirit, I can’t rightly say.

The Gifts of Word of Knowledge and Word of Wisdom

Off the bat, I cannot say I’ve ever been used in a word of wisdom. I have given counsel and advice and have shared whatever wisdom I’ve gleaned through experience, but none of this has ever felt like, for lack of a better term, a gift operating in or through me.

In regards to words of knowledge, I can only say that I know God speaks to me and grants me access to His knowledge. It’s more like getting revelation about a person or circumstance which helps me to understand what’s going on at a given moment. I’ve never gotten what I would call a stand alone “word” as a gift. When I pray with people, God does often share with me what’s going on, and when I share with the person what God shared with me (always privately out of the ears of others), they often confirm it.

It’s usually just an impression in the Holy Spirit about what’s going on in their life at the time we are praying, and why they need prayer. It’s not any big secret reveal, as far as I can tell.

So, with that said, this doesn’t seem like the word of knowledge to me, so I don’t admit to being used in this gift, either.

The Gift of Discerning of Spirits

Before I was saved, I was still a very spiritual person; I just happened to be interested in the evil kind of spirits in the world.

Since I’ve been saved, I’ve often been acutely aware of evil spirits (evening occasionally seeing their shades). I’ve encountered more than one person possessed by a devil, and have been used (with others) in casting them out. One time I became aware of someone, in that past moment, being attacked by an evil spirit. This was later confirmed by the person.

I can usually tell if something is from God or not, and have at least once, discerned the presence of an holy angel.

Regarding discerning human spirits, all I can say is people are known by their fruit. Anything I might have grasped regarding a person can be attributed, perhaps, less to a gift of the Spirit, and more to just knowing the basic tendencies of my fellow man, especially if I know that person well.

Since this gift is so subjective, even if I feel God is giving me a special discernment, I don’t often jump on it unless there seems to be what I call a need to know basis (i.e. the pastors and other elders need to know because the situation requires their immediate attention). Otherwise, if I feel an impression and feel that I’ve discerned something, especially something negative, I usually just take it to my prayer closet.

The Gift of Prophecy

As with the gift of diverse tongues, there was a moment in time when I knew God was giving me this gift.

It was shortly after my wedding, about two weeks later. It was a mid-week service, and we were singing praises to God. I was out in the aisle, dancing. The mood of the Spirit seemed to change, so I stopped dancing, stood still, and lifted my hands and face to God.

In that moment, God spoke to me like thunder and shouted into my spirit the phrase “I AM!!!”

It just about knocked me over. I knew right away it was the gift of prophecy.

Since then, God has used me to share prophetic insights about situations and circumstances the church was facing. God started giving me dreams and visions. Most of the dreams were future based, and they came to pass.

There have been other such instances, including speaking to the church in a prophetic way.

Since then, God has caused me to become one of the seers of our local assembly. It’s usually to expose sin. God is never wrong.

My brother even joked that he wanted to create a T-shirt for the church that reads “IF YOU’RE IN ONE OF [HIS] DREAMS, YOU NEED TO REPENT”, since so many of my dreams have to do with people and their secret sins.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I shared all of the above for a reason other than to boast. Experience is one of if not the best teachers. Many people are  seeking teaching on the Gifts of the Spirit, and so I thought my own experiences would offer some insight.

You will notice that first and foremost, they are based only in the Word. God put me to the test regarding the Gift of Diverse Tongues, to see if I would heed His Word above wanting to be used by Him.

Secondly, you will notice that not everything that seems like a gift is one simply for the seeming. There are grey areas, at least in my own experiences. So don’t be surprised if you have some grey areas, too, in your experience. It appears to be normal.

Some gifts tend to be operated by God along the lines of what a person has been through and can handle. Not everyone is cut out for the Discerning of Spirits if they can’t handle being acutely aware of the presence of evil spirits. Some don’t want to or aren’t willing to make manifest the secrets of the heart, and so, the Gift of Prophecy probably won’t do them much good, so God withholds.

Additionally, when the gifts are the real deal, there is always proof, confirmed and unmistakable. Things will happen and come to pass in accordance with the gift. The Gift of Faith in operation will lead to people receiving the Holy Spirit, for example.

No one ought to say, “God has given me the Gift of Interpretation of Tongues” until after they have at least once legitimately interpreted a diverse tongue. Until then, even if it’s so, keep it to yourself until it happens. Then everyone will know and you won’t have to convince anyone (for example: I never said a word to anyone about being given the Gift of Prophecy. But after prophetic things started happening, it became obvious to others just how God was using me).

Lastly, none of this works without the fruit of the Spirit, the primary being love, or agape (See Galatians 5:22-23). God wants to use people who love people. Since the gifts are to edify the Body, and not for personal glory (1 Corinthians 12:7), God will not use someone if the person wanting to be used cares more about themselves than they do about the Body. God gets no glory if the Body isn’t helped and blessed when His gifts are used.

So if anyone wants to be used by God this way, go ahead and earnestly desire the Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:31). But here’s a better idea, i.e. a more excellent way: learn to love people, even the unloveable. Forbear your brothers and sisters. Forgive and be forgiven. Show mercy. Do what is right and good in the sight of God. Be thankful. Even if you never get used by God in such a way, so what? Gifts of the Spirit are not salvational, even if they might lead to someone’s salvation.

We are better off being Christ-like to one another in love first and if necessary, only, than we are being supernaturally used. Being Christ-like first will lead to being used supernaturally second. Being used supernaturally is never a guarantee of ever becoming Christlike.

And finally,

Just because I’ve shared how I been used in a positive sense, it doesn’t mean I am always used by God, even when there appears to be a need, or if I am earnestly seeking to be so.

I prayed with all my might for God to heal my sister in law, my wife’s sister, of cancer, laying hands on her in the hospital, interceding until I was in pain, crying my eyes out. She died two days later on my wife’s birthday. She was a faithful saint of the most High, passing from death to life at the almost young age of 43, leaving behind a husband and three young sons, with a tombstone that reads “Obey Acts 2:38 to fulfill John 3:5, and I will see you on the other side”.

I prayed for a woman in ICU, who had been in a head on collision, and was on life support. I laid hands on her and prayed fervently with faith. When I finished praying, God showed me she was going to die. She died four hours later.

I prayed for a woman’s dad, the mother of one of my nieces, who was on life support. He died and she backslid not too long afterward. My oldest brother is now a single dad, still living for God, with a daughter born again of the Holy Spirit.

Me, with some other brothers, prayed for a man in a coma who was dying of liver failure and septicemia brought about because of his alcoholism. He never woke up, but died not long after.

I’ve prayed with many who have so far not received the Holy Spirit.

There are other examples, too. Of that I am sure.

But I do not count these as failures, or that something is wrong with me. God is sovereign. There are reasons for Him to move and operate, and there are reasons for Him to not move and operate. The discretion is His, even if we don’t understand.

So please don’t think there is something automatically wrong with you or that you have to chastise yourself for weak faith just because God isn’t using you or hasn’t used you in a long time. To be sure, we all need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. This is right and good. But don’t presume to think the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit operate independently from His will. He can withhold at any time, even when we would rather have Him not do so.

Sleeper Cells

•04/23/2014 • 3 Comments

Revelation 9:12-21,

12. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
13. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14. Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
15. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
16. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
17. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
18. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
19. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
20. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
21. Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

The following is from: http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-sleeper-cell.htm

“One of the most insidious tactics at a terrorist organization’s disposal is the implementation of a sleeper cell. This consists of secret agents who receive specialized training in their home countries and are then assigned to assimilate into another country’s culture and society. These agents may spend years performing their regular duties while living deep undercover, then suddenly receive orders from their overseas handlers to either commit an act of terrorism or provide aid to those who will.

“Individual members of a sleeper cell may not even be aware of each other, since plausible deniability during police interrogations can be vital. One sleeper agent may work for an airline ticket office, for example, while another may work at a car rental company or a chemical plant. When the commanders of the terrorist organization want to activate a cell, each agent may only receive the name of one contact person or receive only his or her specific orders. The airline ticket agent, for example, may only be told to provide tickets for four men traveling from Germany to New York. The car rental agent may only be told to pick up these men from the airport and deliver them to the chemical plant. This process insures that no individual is aware of the entire plan.

“It can be extremely difficult for government agencies to track and dismantle sleeper cells because of their nebulous construction. If the individual members are well-trained and dedicated to their cause, they can easily blend into society without raising any suspicions. A cell doesn’t necessarily need to hold regular meetings or undergo additional training to carry out their missions. Members simply go about their daily routines until a handler contacts them for an assignment. Some agents may not even be fully aware of their obligations, believing that a benevolent government agency simply paid for their education and immigration expenses.

“The events surrounding September 11 pointed out the dangers of such cells, since a number of US citizens did provide material assistance to the actual terrorists. While some may have simply been performing their regular duties, others were most likely members of sleeper cells activated to perform crucial support operations. A student pilot who only studied take-off procedures, for example, would be an ideal member. An airline baggage handler who could smuggle weapons onto a plane without notice would also be useful.

“Some agents may be fully aware of their roles in an operation, while others may be deliberately kept in the dark until called upon to act. This is why an attack can be so notoriously difficult to thwart. A cell is often discovered through covert surveillance and infiltration by a double agent.”

Perhaps this seems too much like a James Bond rip-off, or a bad Tom Clancy send-up. Maybe it’s too super-spiritual. Conspiracy theories, anyone?

But what if I were to tell you that right now, in your community, there is a demonic sleeper cell waiting to be unleashed against you and your church?

Would you believe me? Or would you write this off as just another “devil’s in the cookie jar” alarmist warning that the “boogey-man” is out to get us?

Take another look at what a sleeper cell is.

Now look at these verses:

Galatians 2:4,

4. And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage…

Jude 1:4,

4. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 3:1-7,

1. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

If your regular, old-fashioned backslid (or never really saved to begin with) false prophet/teacher, false brother or sister can creep into the church unawares, don’t you think the evil spirits behind them can do so? And with much more subtlety and ease?

But you say, God will protect us! The Discernment of Spirits won’t let such a thing happen!

Really? Don’t be so naive.

Right now, there is a sleeper cell of demonic spirits in the Euphrates River waiting to unleash hell on earth in the form of approximately 2.66 billion people being killed (if the planet actually stands at 8 billion souls). Something that big is hid right under the nose of the whole world, and yet only those who have taken the time to not only read, but also BELIEVE the Bible know about it. And of that number, how many, do you suppose, actually care enough to prepare their soul for the day that demonic sleeper cell awakens?

So, if such a massive terrorist attack in the spirit realm is waiting to happen, can’t it be possible that something much smaller, in scale and scope, is waiting, right now, to take you and your assembly down?

Can God protect you?

Of course. But what if you are unaware of the danger, or worse, don’t believe it exists? What then? What if the Lord is trying to use this blog to warn His people, but believers everywhere refuse to hear the trumpet as it blows, ignoring the warning of God (Ezekiel 33:1-20)? Then what?

Then entire churches stand defenseless as demonic sleeper cell after demonic sleeper cell are called to duty, to steal, kill, and destroy the souls of those who might otherwise have been protected and spared, had someone listened to this watchman’s trumpet.

I don’t write these blogs randomly or for the fun of it. I write them as I feel led by the Holy Spirit of God to prepare as many people as will read and heed their content, so as to be prepared for the soon coming Great Tribulation.

No one who reads this has to be believe me or take my word for it. Search the Scriptures. Even more so, search what the Spirit of Christ in you is signifying in these last days (See and compare 1 Peter 1:11). Just as the Holy Spirit in the prophets of old testified of the sufferings of Christ, I can only wonder if the Spirit of Christ will likewise testify in the prophets of now of the sufferings of Christ’s Bride, the Church.

Just as the holy men of God in the Old Covenant Era were called and separated unto God to tell His people what was to come, is it not reasonable to believe that the holy men of God in the New Covenant Era are even now being called and separated unto God to tell His people what is to come?

You can laugh and dismiss at your leisure. I hope I am wrong. I would rather be wrong and not know that churches are about to fall, but still have cried aloud, then to have shut up my mouth, worried that churches were going to fall, find out I was right, and not have done a thing.

 
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Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

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Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

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