God’s Master Plan

Look about you!  Do you really think you are witnessing God’s best efforts to save the world?  Think of it: only a tiny minority in any given era have been affotded the opportunity of hearing and accepting or rejecting the gospel message.  And is God using his best efforts to get that message to humanity through a few dozen priests, six or eight young Mormon missionaries, a few Baptists, some Jehovah’s Witnesses and a smattering of missionaries from a couple dozen other denominations entering a region of earth like Laos, or Cambodia, or Vietnam a century, or so, ago?  Most of humanity live out their short lifespans and die with no knowledge whatsoever of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on Calvary!  Yet scripture assures us that Jesus did “taste death  for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 and 2 Timothy 4:10).  The apostle  Paul flatly declared, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (2 Timothy 2:15).  Did He come to save some sinners or all sinners?  Why taste death for all if only a tiny minority would ever even have knowledge of the offer of salvation?

Rather confusing, isn’t it?  Of course God is not the author of confusion – Satan is.  (See I Corinthians 14:33).  Satan knows that God “desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (See I Timothy 2:4).  He, therefore, works diligently to thwart the plan of God.  But God cannot be out-smarted.  There is no real contest being waged between  God and Satan.  God could snap His fingers and Satan would be reduced to a bit of ash at His feet in a millisecond.  Remember, God alone is truly wise.  (See I Timothy 1:17).  He is “Lord of the harvest” of salvation.  (See Matthew 9:35).  He knows exactly what He is doing, and He has appointed Jesus Christ to be the Captain of our salvation.  (See Hebrews 2:10).  And God is permitting Satan to maintain the role he now plays on the earthly stage for a good and wise purpose and reason.

Few seem to understand that God is working out the plan of the salvation of mankind according to a time-table and in successive stages.  And He is right on schedule with that God created plan.  In I Timothy, chapter 2, we read this clear declaration: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for ALL, TO BE TESTIFIED (TO ALL) IN DUE TIME.”  (Verses 5 and 6).

Yes, there is a due, proper time for all who have ever lived or ever will live to hear about Jesus Christ’s atoning work accomplished in ancient Judea nearly two thousand years ago.  In fact, your Bible clearly states that one must reject Christ in order to be eternally lost!  Jesus Christ Himself plainly declared, “If you do not believe that I am He (the Savior of the world), you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).  Jesus Christ told the hypocritical Pharisees, “If you were (spiritually) blind, you would have no sin…” (John 9:41).

Satan has deceived humanity, even many professing Christians, into believing that there are but two categories or classes of humans recognized by scripture – the saved and the lost.  There are actually THREE classes.  And it is that third largely forgotten class that contains the overwhelming majority of father Adam’s posterity.  That is the class, or category, of the “uncalled.”  These people are not saved as they have never accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior – billions of them lived and died never even hearing of any such Person!  But neither are they irrevocably lost as they have not rejected Him either.  They are “lost” only in the sense that they are not now saved

“This is the condemnation (this is what condemns) that  light has come into the world and MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT…” (John 3:19).  Yes, it is only when people are given an intelligent choice – a choice between light and darkness, truth and error, an acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice or rejection of the same, then, and only then, do they stand eternally condemned before God and have their sins irrevocably charged against them.  Then, and only then, do they become irrevocably LOST!

Speaking of the people of His own generation, Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).  Members of the human family stand before God without excuse for rejecting the way, the truth and life only when they have the truth clearly presented to their minds by one of our Lord’s anointed spokesmen who know that truth and can plainly present it to their fellow human beings.

It is a true saying that no one can get to hell without going around Mt. Calvary, or the cross.  The cross stands directly in the way.  God’s indignation and wrath are reserved for those who “do not obey the truth” (See Romans 2:8).  They, of course, have to first be aware of the truth in order to disobey the same.

To the Corinthian believers, Paul wrote, “For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh (scientists, college professors, the world’s intelligentsia), not many mighty (various and sundry celebrities in every field of human endeavor), not many noble (the royal families of earthly nations, the aristocrats) ARE CALLED (to salvation)” (I Corinthians 1:26).  God TEMPORARILY passes over such in drawing men and women to salvation, knowing that they are at a grave disadvantage and would not be open to such a call.  And if God doesn’t “call” one to salvation by convicting them of sin and enlightening them to the truth about Jesus Christ, then it is absolutely impossible for such a person to be saved!  (John 16:7-12).  Yet, remember, scripture is clear on this point, God intensely “desires ALL men (all mankind) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).

For thousands of years God dealt solely with the nation of Israel.  To them, He plainly declared, “You ONLY have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2).  Again, the Psalmist writes, “He (God) declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and his judgments to Israel (Jacob and Israel, of course, being one and the same).  He has not dealt thus with any (other) nation, and as for His judgments, they have not known them” (Psalm 147:19-20).  Such texts as these, and several others, must be duly considered when reading Romans 1, and Paul does not reveal who he is speaking of in Romans 1 until one reads down to Romans 2:17!

Think of it!  Millions of human beings lived and died CUT OFF from any knowledge of the one true God.  The Shang Dynasty of China ruled from about 1700 to 1100 B.C.  Peru’s Paracas culture thrived between about 1000 and 100 B.C.  In these two cultures alone you have millions of human beings living and dying centuries before Christ appeared on the scene.  Have they no hope of eternal life?  As the apostle Paul so aptly put it: “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher (one anointed of God with the truth)?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent (by God Himself, NOT by some humanly devised “mission board”)?” (See Romans 10:14-15).  The answer is obvious, isn’t it?  ISN’T IT?

How would you like to have been born the son or daughter of a Chinese couple in the year 1500 B.C.?  Are you so blind or scripturally ignorant as to think such circumstances would automatically and quite effectively deny you entrance into the eternal kingdom of God?  Don’t you realize that such reasoning would make a monster out of our Creator?  God would also be proven to be a liar!  Howso?  Because your Bible says, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense (Adam’s offense) judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one man’s  (Christ’s) righteous act the free gift came TO ALL MEN, resulting in justification to  life” (Romans 5:18).

Now, if words mean anything, that scripture clearly says that the same all who were made sinners through kinship to Adam will have a chance to find justification through Jesus Christ.

Again, Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all (that same all) shall be made (potentially) alive” (I Corinthians 15:22).  Truly God is “not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  Well, scripture declares that it is God who grants repentance.  God is “running the show,” so to speak, and He is doing a grand and wonderful job at it even though few comprehend just how He is doing this.

And, remember, “there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11).  God will not afford a white, English-speaking citizen of modern-day America a better shot at eternal life than that granted a yellow-skinned Chinese peasant who lived, suffered and died many centuries before Christ!  And God forbid that any child of God should think – even for a moment – that BILLIONS of such unfortunate human beings are denied any chance at all.

2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “God was in Christ reconciling  THE WORLD  to Himself.”  Yes, reconciling THE WORLD – that would include the ancient Chinese, the Babylonians, the Assyrians – and any other human beings you care to name of any previous century living in any country or nation you care to name, also.

You see, “Known to God from eternity are all His works” (See Acts 15:18).  God had all of eternity past to devise and think out a fail-safe, perfect plan that would grant every single human being who would ever be born a marvelous, unmistakable opportunity to take full advantage of God’s offer to join His great spirit family and live forever and ever and ever.  Satan did not take God by surprise in the Garden of Eden.  He didn’t sneak in the back way while God was preoccupied with some other matter.  NOTHING can be hidden from God.  The light and the darkness are the same to Him.  A tiny sparrow cannot fall from its nest without His notice!  Nor did Lucifer dumbfound the Most High when he thought he could contest His rule.  God is not playing some hit or miss game of chance with human lives here below.  Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44).  It is quite obvious that the Father has made no attempt to draw entire nations of men to Himself through Jesus Christ.  For many long centuries Japan, Korea, and many other nations had not one single Christian missionary enter their borders with the good news of salvation and the offer of eternal life for their citizens.  Those ignorant of the scriptures, especially the Hebrew scriptures – commonly called the Old Testament –  believe such people, consisting of billions of human beings, died forever lost, having had no chance or opportunity to inherit eternal life.  How absurd!

God knows exactly what He is doing with the human family.  And in His great and awesome wisdom He has taken into account every conceivable obstacle one might encounter that could even remotely hamper his or her chances of becoming a member of the family of God.

There is a California winery that boasts, “We will sell no wine before its time.”  Well, scripture clearly affirms that God will call no one to salvation before their appointed and most opportune time.  (See Acts 17).  Few have seemed to notice the implications of a passage of scripture found in the 16th chapter of Acts: “Now when they (Paul and his companions) had gone over Phrygia and the region of Galatia, THEY WERE FORBIDDEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO PREACH THE WORD IN ASIA.  After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (verses 6 and 7).

Who denied, who prevented the gospel message from being preached and presented in the Roman province of Asia Minor at that time?  Was it Satan?  NO!  It was God – the Master of the harvest of salvation.  Read that text again.  It says that the Holy Spirit would not allow Paul and his companions to preach the word of God in Asia at that time.  Death did not take a holiday then.  Those people still died daily having no knowledge of Christ’s sacrificial death and God’s offer of eternal life through submission to His Son – mankind’s Savior!

For many long centuries God sent no prophets, preachers, or ministers to ANY Gentile nation.  Think of it!  Millions and millions of human beings were cut off from God.  God made not the slightest effort to reach them – THEN!  Yet God’s Word affirms, “And ALL FLESH shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6).  And, again, “ALL flesh shall come to worship before me, says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:23).

Why can’t we break free of our preconceived ideas and long cherished beliefs and accept what God has to say in these matters?

In Part 2 of this article we will look at just HOW God intends to give such people as the long-dead ancient Chinese and others their fair opportunity at salvation.

WARNING:  Long held, preconceived ideas and beliefs color the thinking of many believers, thus effectively preventing them from seeing or accepting anything contrary to their present body of beliefs.  They are 100%  certain they already have and know God’s truth in these all-important matters.  They can quote verses of scripture that seemingly support their doctrinal stand.  It never dawns on them that they might have overlooked a host of other critically important texts that speak to this subject.  Perhaps, my friend, you have done so yourself.

And don’t think, “All these people can’t be wrong!”  Scripture WARNS that “Satan deceives THE WHOLE WORLD” (See Revelation 12:9).

Christ’s servant (Galatians 1:10),

 

Donald Wiley, 902 Pleasant Court, Brookville, OH 45309       Tel. No. (937) 270-5681

Email: donaldwiley797@yahoo.com

Islam – The One World Religion!

Fellow believer, have you ever read the Koran?  I have, all of it, from cover to cover.  It is only about one-fourth the size of the Bible.  One can easily read the entire Koran in just a few hours.  One of the most striking things about this book is that it emphatically and clearly states again and again: “God has no son!”  Centuries ago, God inspired the apostle John to write just as emphatically and clearly these words in his first epistle: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?  HE IS ANTICHRIST, THAT DENIETH THE FATHER AND THE SON.” (See I John 2:22).  And, summing up that epistle, John wrote: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life” (See I John 5:20).

Jesus Christ prophesied a solemn warning to those Christians who would be living at the close of this present age: “Ye shall be hated OF ALL NATIONS for my name’s sake” – professing themselves to be Christians, espousing a belief that Jesus was and is God’s Son.  (See Matthew 24:9).  Note well that Jesus Christ plainly and clearly said believers would be hated OF ALL NATIONS, i.e., the United States, England, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, etc.  Therefore, Jesus clearly inferred that at the end time there would be no “Christian” nations, no nations calling themselves such.  That would include Mexico, Norway, Spain, and Italy, as well as any and all nations presently looked upon as “Christian” nations!

Again John writes: “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea…..and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.  And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and ALL THE WORLD WONDERED  after the beast.  And they (ALL THE WORLD) worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’  And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months (three-and-a-half years).  And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God (crying out, ‘God has no Son’), to blaspheme His name (calling Him Allah, a “god” who has no son), and His tabernacle (i.e., Christians – the present temple or tabernacle of God), and them that dwell in heaven (the Father and the Son).  And it was given unto him to make war with the saints (yes, they ARE still on earth – not raptured away to heaven), and to overcome them: and power was given him over ALL kindreds , and tongues, and nations.  AND ALL THAT DWELL UPON THE EARTH SHALL WORSHIP HIM…..If any man have an ear, let him hear” (See Revelation 13:1-9).  Yes, ALL that dwell upon the earth shall hate and destroy Christians, that would include the nations now looked upon as “Christian” nations!

Friend, ALL nations are not going to abandon Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, atheistic communism and various centuries old tribal religions – beliefs they have DIED to protect and promulgate – in a handful of years!!!  Few, if any, believers alive today will live to see the fulfillment of Revelation 13, as well as many other end-time prophecies!

In I Peter, chapter 4, Peter wrote: “But the end of all things IS AT HAND” (see verse 7).  Do you know what he saw in his own lifetime and era that caused him to believe that was so?  “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which IS to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto  you, but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.  Happy are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  On their part (these deniers that Jesus is the Son of God) He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified (in that you DO accept Jesus as being God’s Son and the Savior of the world)” (See verses 12-14, I Peter 4).

Peter knew that the world’s rejection of Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world was the major characteristic that would identify the era of the end of this present evil world’s system and return of Jesus Christ!  He realized that there would be WORLDWIDE persecution and execution of Christians by a false religion that would spread across the globe and engulf all nations.

Friends, don’t look for Jesus Christ to “break through the blue” at any moment and snatch up to heaven the followers of the dozens and dozens of professing Christian denominations, sparing them persecution and even martyrdom.  It ain’t happening.  God’ timeline for this present evil age is going to run out a whole lot longer than most remotely suspect.  I seriously doubt if there is an infant alive on earth today who could possibly live long enough to witness Jesus Christ’s return.

To be continued……..

Does God Punish Believers Who Sin?

Few – only a small minority – of Christians obey God and really “Prove ALL things” of a spiritual nature.  (See 1 Thessalonians 5:21).  Most merely parrot, or repeat, what they have heard or been taught.  The Mormon does this.  The Lutheran does this.  This Roman Catholic does this.  We all have a tendency to do this.  It’s human nature to believe yourself to be right in your beliefs, and this alone presents a formidable mental block against coming out of error and embracing the truth.  One must first see and believe themselves to be in error.  As long as someone has a handful of scriptures, or even one lone text, that he thinks supports his view or belief he generally is not open or receptive to an opposing view.  Any scripture that clashes with or contradicts his belief is either simply ignored or “interpreted” to say what that believer wants it to say.  Oftentimes another scripture is used to cancel out or void the troublesome problem text.  Also, there is an overpowering thought that prevents millions of professing Christians from coming out of error, and that is the thought, “All these people can’t be wrong!”  It never dawns on them that thought cancels out the plain, clear scripture, “Satan deceives THE WHOLE WORLD” (See Revelation 12:9).  How can 700 million Roman Catholics be wrong?  Yet, in many of their beliefs and practices, they are in gross error.  Many of them have Bibles.  Many of them read those Bibles.  Yet they continue in their errors!

That’s the scary thing about spiritual deception.  It is almost impossible to see in one’s self.  A deceived person does not know they are deceived.  Once one realizes they are, or have been, deceived they are no longer deceived.  One area in which many, perhaps most, Christians are deceived is in their belief regarding the judgment of a believer.  It appears most believers think themselves to be immune from the judgment of God.  All the judgment a believer will ever face was poured out on the Lord Jesus Christ  at Calvary.  At least that is what most Christians seem to believe.  (Pause and Read Revelation 2 and 3 here).

Will a believer’s sins ever be brought up against him in the Judgment, that day when the dead, small and great, will be raised and stand before the throne of God to be judged, or was that day met by Christ on Calvary two thousand years ago?  Is a believer’s judgment solely for deciding how great his reward will be in heaven?    What does the Bible say in this matter?  I am going to give you the Bible’s answer to that seldom asked, all-important question.  But before I give you that answer, I want you to think about this question: Should a Christian who robs a bank be punished?   Of course, your immediate reply might be that a true Christian wouldn’t rob a bank, that is he wouldn’t break the eighth commandment, at least not that flagrantly.  But let’s say in a moment of great temptation he did rob a bank, or write a bad check, or steal the money from the coffee cup holding the few dollars his fellow office workers had  collected for the purchase of more coffee.  I believe any reasonable person would agree even a Christian should be punished if he robs a bank.  In fact, many would argue that a Christian should be punished more severely than anyone else due to the fact that A) He has the Holy Spirit to aid him in overcoming such temptations, and B) He has the counsel and warning of scripture to guide him.

After more than seven decades of life, I have learned several great truths  – many by hard experience, one of them being the greatest incentive to do evil is the knowledge that there is no punishment.  Think for a moment, what if the United States Supreme Court struck down all laws, state and federal, against car theft!  Do you think fewer cars would be stolen, more cars would be stolen, or car thefts would remain about the same?  I really think the answer is obvious.  I’m not implying Christians would join in the mad rush to possess their first BMW, Mercedes or Rolls-Royce.  I’m just underscoring the point that freedom from punishment tends to draw men to do evil.

The words of the prophet Amos contain a very interesting observation made by God many centuries ago.  God warns His chosen people Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.  Therefore, I will punish you for ALL your iniquities” (Amos 3:2).  So, here we are given God’s viewpoint on the matter: If God develops a relationship with you, He warns you He will punish you for whatever sins you then commit.  Now I know some will argue, “Oh, but that’s the Old Testament.  That’s how God dealt with fleshly Israelites, not with spiritual sons and daughters who have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ and the New Covenant!”  Alright, then let’s look at some observations made in the New Testament to those under the New Covenant.  You will agree the New Testament letter of Colossians was written to those under the New Covenant, won’t you?  Notice the last three verses of chapter 3.  Beginning with verse 23, we read: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord we shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ.  BUT HE THAT DOETH WRONG SHALL RECEIVE FOR THE WRONG WHICH HE HATH DONE, AND THERE IS NO RESPECT OF PERSONS” (verses 23 thru 25).

ALL God’s judgments are based upon the law of sowing and reaping.  To believers, God WARNS: “Be not deceived.  God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man sows, THAT shall he also reap.  For he that sows to his flesh (constantly giving in to the pulls of the flesh) shall of the flesh (the path he chose) reap corruption, but he that sows to the Spirit (following the path of obedience) shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap (everlasting life), IF we faint not” (Galatians 6:7-9).

Peter writes, “Judgment must BEGIN at the house of God” (See I Peter 4:17).  Why?  Because God punishes sin in the believer’s life here and NOW – in this life.  This may come as a surprise to some, but it is true that a believer’s sins will NOT be mentioned against him at the judgment seat of Christ.  Why not?  Because, as stated God’s people are punished for all their sins here and now in this present world!

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world” (I Corinthians 11:31-32).  Any believer confronted with the sin issue in the next life will also be confronted with the stark, horrifying fact he has forfeited his inheritance to eternal life!  But note that text again, “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged!”  God gives any believer who sins a window of time to repent of their sin and come back to the walk of total obedience.  (See Revelation 2:21).  If that believer does not so repent, then, and only then, does the chastening rod fall to discipline and turn the errant believer around.

Paul urged the believers in Thessalonica “that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter (through adultery, stealing from him, lying to him, etc.), because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified” (I Thessalonians 4:6).  Yes, God DOES punish believers – “ALL SUCH” who sin.  In fact, a believer who sins and continues in sin without repenting and escapes punishment in this life is proven to be a false convert!  (See Hebrews 12:8).

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words (assuring you God does not see a believer’s  sins), for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye, therefore, partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:5-7).

Some Corinthian believers HAD become partakers with those who chose to be disobedient and had become “weak and sickly” as a punishment for their headstrong disobedience.  Some had even died!  Paul did not wish to see this repeated among the Ephesian believers.  (See I Corinthians 11:26-34).

“For if we (we believers) sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a CERTAIN fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries (those who will not be corrected by God’s chastening rod)” (See Hebrews 10:26-27).  Yes, God is indignant with a believer’s sins.  “How dare you go there when you have been washed, when you have been cleansed, when you have been sanctified!!!”

Paul addresses this same issue in his letter to the Romans, stating, “(God) will render TO EVERY MAN (believer and unbeliever alike) according to his deeds.  To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life (awaits as their inheritance), but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish UPON EVERY SOUL OF MAN THAT DOETH EVIL, of the Jew first (since he is a son of the covenant), and also of the Gentile” (Romans 2:6-9).

While it is true that “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:9), “I will, therefore, put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not” (Jude 5).  And the Lord warns us, “I change NOT!”  God has not appointed us to wrath, yet “how shall we escape (God’s wrath) if we neglect so great salvation (turning back to sin though once delivered therefrom)?”  (See Hebrews 2:3).  The Bible answer is, we cannot!

So, it IS true that a believer’s sins will not be brought up against him at the judgment of God’s children, because they will have either been purged here, in this life, or, if continued, the believer will be cut off and will not appear in the congregation of the faithful.  (See Romans 11:22 and John 15:1-6).  God help you to set aside any preconceived ideas to the contrary.

Christ’s servant (Galatians 1:10),

Donald Wiley

(Please share this website with others: www.thebiblicalprophets.com)

 

Can A Soul Die?

 

Down through the years I have met and spoken with many, many preachers from many various and sundry denominations.  The thread that runs so true in many of them is that they are intensely narrow-minded.  I do not use that word in an unkind way.  It is a human trait actually.  The Roman Catholic priest is not open to protestant doctrine.  The Mormon bishop is not open to Baptist teaching.  The Amish elder is not open to Lutheran dogma.  As I say, this is a human trait as old as the human race.  The Sadducee was not open to the Pharisee’s argumentation and vice versa.   Jeremiah’s fellow priests were not open to His prophecies, insisting that he be put to death for heresy.  Miriam and Aaron disagreed sharply with Moses having married a black woman!!!!!

My relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father was tenuous at best for many, many years.  It was only after many terrible trials and great afflictions of decades long duration that I was brought to utterly, completely and fully surrender my total self to the supreme LORDship of Jesus Christ.  And THAT is when Jesus Christ became REAL to me and, from that moment, began miraculously healing me of any and all illnesses and diseases that afflicted me, healing me from COPD, bronchitis, gastric reflux, trigger finger, food poisoning, etc.  And THAT is when He began answering my prayers fully and completely  – often going beyond what I asked or petitioned Him for.  And THAT is when He began granting me a fuller understanding of His Word.  Am I, therefore, now infallible when speaking on what the scriptures do and do not say?  Of course not!  I still remain human and subject to all the vagaries and frailties of the flesh.  And it is this knowledge that has prompted me to read the entire Bible from cover to cover, Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 close to a hundred times as well as to often consult a Greek/English Interlinear New Testament, as well as my Strong’s and Vine’s lexicons and concordances, as well as many other study helps.

I have kept an open mind, listening to the sermons of dozens of different pastors, preachers, evangelists, teachers – but always and ever PROVING all things of a spiritual nature, knowing that well meaning humans can err and err greatly.

One of the most MISunderstood doctrines contained in the scriptures is the doctrine of the “soul.”  Many confuse terms like “soul,” “spirit,” “ghost.”  Many have little to no knowledge as to what the Bible actually teaches about immortality and eternal life.  Most ASSUME the Bible teaches whatever it is that they have come to believe as “Christians.”  They will quote, MIS-quote, or partially quote a handful of scriptures that they are certain supports their particular view.

Let’s say you are a missionary in India.  You have labored in that mission field for five years without a single convert.  Your mission board recalls you due to your inability to win converts.  In the village where you have labored for five years there are 27 children.  You know, if they attain to their teenage years, they will become staunch Hindus and remain such for life as such is the firmly held belief of the villagers.  In your medical kit you have several vials of narcotic sedatives, which, if given to infants, will cause them to fall asleep and die.  You know ALL babies go to heaven if they die in infancy.  You, therefore, believe you can assure that at least 27 of the villagers will, indeed, go to heaven.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than that he should lay down his life for a friend.”  Although the Indian authorities might execute you, you are willing to lay down your life to save 27 infants.  Sounds like good theology, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  It’s the devil’s argument.  The babies would just die and remain dead until the resurrection of the unconverted sometime hence.  They THEN would have an opportunity at inheriting eternal life.

A MISunderstanding of the “soul” and “spirit” and related terms has given Satan a world of opportunities to deceive the scripturally ignorant.  And even pastors and preachers can fall in to this category.

You might have wondered about my ability to write coherently and, I trust, convincingly.  I have two college degrees – University of Minnesota.  I have not always done janitorial work.  In my late teens I attended a Bible college in Kentucky.  I took several writing courses in college and was always a good student in English and grammar classes.

Long ago it dawned on me that the “Christian” world was a world of great confusion.  One pastor taught his flock that “tongues” were of the devil, while the pastor across the street was “Pentecostal” and taught his congregation that tongues was the only valid sign that one had been filled with the Holy Ghost!  One pastor taught his following the doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” while another pastor insisted one can definitely lose their salvation.  Seeing this confusion, I knew that, in order to attain to the truth in matters of correct scripture interpretation, I would have to study those scriptures in depth, even in their original languages, and I would have to keep an open mind and allow the Word of God to speak and arbitrate in all doubtful matters.  I have carefully and slowly read the entire Bible (yes, even the census chapters and all the begats) dozens and dozens and dozens of times.  (I even read the Koran twice from cover to cover).

I prefer to address myself to younger minds as they tend to be more open than older folks.  Older believers are settled in their doctrines, beliefs and practices.  Although most have never really and truly “proved” what they believe to be true, still they maintain the mindset that was instilled in them in earlier years.  The Baptist youth remains a Baptist though his hair turns to silver and he exchanges his hiking boots for a walker.  Ditto for the Methodist,  Lutheran, Roman Catholic, etc., etc., etc.

 

Pulling No Punches

I suppose to some, who do not know my personal history and background, and who do not know my age and that I clean urinals, mop floors and empty waste cans to generate financing for my ministry, I might appear as arrogant due to the manner in which I write and in some of the things that I say.  I DO know my function in the body of Christ – a function I have performed for many years.  (I am now seventy-four years old).   Those who read my articles, blogs, posts, wouldn’t know me if it was me washing their feet at the next foot washing ceremony held in their assembly of believers.

I write with such frankness and a “pull no punches” style as I know full well how much is at stake in the matters I address.  I do not mince words where eternal lives are at stake.  It is frightening to realize that the One who could not lie and was never given to exaggeration said that in the day of judgment “MANY will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (preached) in your name (by your authority), and in thy name cast out devils (laid waste to Satan’s kingdom), and in thy name done many wonderful works (fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick)?’  And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you.  Depart from me, ye that work iniquity’” (See Matthew 7:22-23).

A deceived person does not know he is deceived.  He is much like one who is in a deep, sound sleep and must be awakened, even startled into wakefulness.  No minister reading Christ’s words given in the above quotation thinks it applies to them.  It is always and ever “the other guy.”  Yet, Jesus said MANY would find themselves on the outside looking in at the coming of His eternal kingdom.  When Jesus Christ spoke as frankly as He did to the Pharisees and Sadducees, the priests and Levites, He always did so in love, but He knew they had to be awakened to their peril.  He, therefore, could be quite blunt and harsh indeed.

To the teachers in the body of Christ, Paul said “exhort and REBUKE with all authority,” even though in the next breath saying, “showing all meekness to all men.”  (See Titus 2:15 and 3:2).  And, shortly before penning those words, Paul wrote: “Rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith” (See Titus 1:13).

I live in HUD subsidized housing,  drive a twelve  year old car, and have an income below poverty level.  I have no illusions about who and what I am, but part of my biographical history is that I am a teacher of the Word in the body of Christ.  Though holding two college degrees awarded me by the University of Minnesota, though having attended a Bible college in Kentucky over fifty years ago, my teaching ability and knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit and having read the Bible from cover to cover, Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21, well over fifty times, actually closer to a hundred.

I trust some of what I write, some of what you read will minister to your heart and mind.  That is my intent, my goal and my ministry to the Lord.

Donald Wiley

Can The Elect Be Deceived?

An unfortunate translation of Matthew 24:24 has led many to erroneously believe that the “elect” cannot be deceived.  In the King James Version, that verse reads: “For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”  The words “it were” are in italics in most Bibles thereby clearly signifying these two words were not in the Greek manuscripts but were added by the translators.  When the translators added such words it was hoped such additions made the text a bit clearer, but there are some cases where the opposite occurred.  Matthew 24:24 is one such instance.  The last phrase of that verse should simply say, “insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”  The added words “it were” seem to imply that such was not possible, that the elect could not possibly be deceived.  Yet many other scriptures show that this cannot possibly be true.

Mark’s account of this same “Olivet Prophecy” discourse sheds further light on the matter.  In Mark 13, beginning with verse 3, we read, “And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?’  And Jesus answering them (these elect apostles) began to say, take heed LEST ANY MAN DECEIVE YOU!’” (verses 4 and 5).  I assure you Jesus Christ did not give idle warnings, and this warning was given TO THE ELECT – His own apostles!!!

In Ephesians 5:6, Paul exhorts the Ephesian believers, “LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU…”  And in Ephesians 1, verses 4 and 5, he had just assured these same believers that they had been chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world….predestinated…unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself…” yet Paul warned them it was possible for them to be deceived!

To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote: “LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU BY ANY MEANS…” (See 2 Thessalonians 2:3).  And he warned the Corinthian believers, “BE NOT DECEIVED” (See I Corinthians 15:33).  And he later wrote them, “But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled (deceived) Eve through his subtilty, SO YOUR MINDS SHOULD BE CORRUPTED” (See 2 Corinthians 11:3).  Notice, Paul says, “Let no man deceive you by any means.”  Paul knew most deception comes to God’s flock through a deceived ministry.  Ministers, themselves deceived by the cleverness of a super-intelligent Satan, pass on their errors to those who regard them as teachers of the truth.

Of course the elect can be deceived!  That’s WHY we are exhorted to “PROVE all things (of a spiritual nature – all doctrines, teachings, sermons, etc.).”  (See I Thessalonians 5:21)  That is WHY we are urged to “try (test, weigh, prove) the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).  John had just exhorted these believers, “Little children, let no man DECEIVE you” (I John 3:7).

In fact, we can deceive ourselves!  Notice: “If we say we have no sin (though sinning and walking in disobedience), WE DECEIVE OURSELVES” (I John 1:8).  Surely John considered himself one of the elect.  Notice, he says, “We deceive OURSELVES.”  Remember, John was present that day when Jesus warned, “Take heed, lest any man deceive YOU” (See Mark 13:5, again).

Paul writes, “Let no man deceive himself” (I Corinthians 3:18).  See also Galatians 6, verses 3 and 7).  And James agrees, warning: “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, DECEIVING YOUR OWN SELVES” (James 1:22).  See also verse 26, same chapter.

Of course the elect can be deceived.  If the elect couldn’t be deceived our Lord and His apostles spoke idle words and issued idle warnings.  The fact that believers, yes, the elect, can be deceived helps explain why there are dozens and dozens of different denominations in the “Christian” world.

The Galatian believers were “bewitched!” (See Galatians 3:1).  They were removed from the grace of Christ to another gospel.  (See Galatians 1:6).  Paul marveled that this could happen so quickly.  (same verse).

The elect of Pergamos were deceived.  (See Revelation 2:12-17), as were those of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29, Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6), and Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22).

If the elect could not be deceived, then there would be one denomination in Christianity with total truth and no dissension in their ranks.  All their pastors, evangelists, teachers and members would be in total agreement always.  Why?  Because the elect cannot be deceived!  Do you see how absurd and contrary to scripture truth the idea really is?  If the elect cannot be deceived, they are infallible!!

Those who think they cannot be deceived are already grossly deceived.  Whatever your denomination, wherever you fellowship and attend worship services, know that it is quite possible you have been and quite likely still are deceived in some area of your beliefs and the doctrines that you hold to be true.  This probability is lessened IF you walk in continual obedience to all the scripture truth you see AND search the scriptures – ALL of them, Old and New Testaments – and really prove all things of a spiritual nature that you have been led to believe.  It is quite obvious few do this, else we wouldn’t have so many contradictory denominations in the Christian world.  If all believers, especially the ministry, really and truly PROVED all things of a spiritual nature, instead of having dozens and dozens and dozens of differing, contradictory denominations there would be only a few, perhaps less than half-a-dozen!

I trust this short article will help you to think and to think more deeply than ever before.  The Baptist is absolutely 100% certain the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” is supported by a plethora of scripture.  But there are other quite large denominations that teach the exact opposite and have a great amount of scripture to support their doctrinal stand that one can most certainly forfeit their salvation.   One or the other is deceived.  Both are equally certain it is “the other guy” who has it wrong.  Spiritual deception is a tricky thing.  A deceived person does not realize he, or she, is deceived else they wouldn’t be deceived.  A deceived person is often absolutely certain beyond a question of doubt that they do see and know the truth in some matter.  That is WHY it is imperative that one OBEY whatever the scriptures command and that they study diligently to really PROVE whatever doctrines they accept and believe to be true.  If you are not in that category of believer, you are quite likely deceived in some area of your doctrines and beliefs.

One clear note that is sounded throughout the scriptures again and again is the fact that revelation and obedience are conjoined twins.  They cannot be separated.  If one is not walking in continual obedience to God and His Word, then it is a foregone conclusion they are deceived in some of the things they believe to be true and supported by scripture!  Let me give you a handful of scriptures that clearly support this Bible rule.  The prophet Daniel, in one of his heartfelt prayers to God, said, “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us, yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, THAT WE MIGHT TURN FROM OUR INIQUITIES AND UNDERSTAND THY TRUTH” (See Daniel 9:13).

Through His prophet Ezekiel, God tells the elders of Israel, “Are ye come to inquire of me (are you seeking revelation or understanding from ME?)  As I live, saith the Lord God, I will NOT be inquired of by you.”  (See Ezekiel 20:1-3).  And WHY was God refusing to give understanding to these elders?  Because of their “abominations,” their sins!  (See verse 4).

Earlier God had told Ezekiel, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not, for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 12:2).  Rebel against God by continuing in sin and you will be unable to see the truths of God regardless of how plain and clear they are in scripture.  Cover your sins and walk in disobedience to God and you will be unable to hear and receive what God is plainly speaking through His anointed teachers and prophets.

To His prophet Jeremiah, God said, “You shall say unto them (the people of Judah), ‘This is a nation that obeys not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receives correction.  Truth is perished and cut off from their mouth” (See Jeremiah 7:28).  Turn a deaf ear to God, continue sinning, refuse correction, and God says His truth will be hidden from your mind and will not be spoken through your mouth!

The apostle Peter warned that we will stumble at the Word, unable to comprehend what the Word of God actually says and teaches, if we are disobedient to the Word of God.  He declares that this is a divinely appointed outcome to all who continue to knowingly and willfully sin!  (See I Peter 2:7-8).

Paul warned that when a believer sins he gives place to Satan to blind and deceive him and that those who are led away from the walk of godliness by giving in to various lusts, though ever learning, are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth..”  (See Ephesians 4:27 and 2 Timothy 3:6-7).  It is only when we are fruitful in every good work that we are able to increase in the knowledge of God.  (See Colossians 1:10)

“My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commandments with you, so that you incline your ear unto wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding…then shall you understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (See Proverbs 2:1-3, 5).  “In ALL your ways acknowledge Him (as LORD) and He shall (then) direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

The Psalmist declares that “light is sown for the righteous” (See Psalm 97:11).  Again the Psalmist writes: “I understand more than the ancients, (Why?) because I keep your precepts” (Psalm 119:100).

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him….” (See Psalm 25:14).  Those who truly do have a deep reverence for God OBEY God.  They diligently seek His will through pondering the counsel and instruction given in His Word.  Any other pathway is strewn with deceptions and rabbit trails that lead one into profound lasting error.

Peter wrote of how he sought to “stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, “ for he well knew that only a pure mind could have communication with the Spirit of God.  Any other mindset is wide open to spiritual deception.  (See 2 Peter 3:1).  And just what did Peter desire these believers to remember?  “That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (verse 2, 2 Peter 3).  Peter well knew what Paul knew and taught fervently that “ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine…” (See 2 Timothy 3:16).  Those who contend that they do not get their doctrine from the Word of God given through the Hebrew prophets leave themselves and their hearers wide open to satanic deception.  In fact, they already show themselves to be grossly deceived by making such a statement!!

Again, speaking of the Hebrew prophets, Peter writes “of which salvation the prophets have inquired (of God) and searched diligently (their own writings as well as the writings of previous prophets), who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you (us New Covenant believers), searching what, or what manner of time THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WHICH WAS IN THEM DID SIGNIFY, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.  Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves (their own time and generation), BUT UNTO US (THE NEW COVENANT CHURCH OF GOD) THEY DID MINISTER the things that are reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into” (I Peter 1:10-12).

Note well that Peter declares that it was Jesus Christ, the Word, the Logos, the Spokesman of the Godhead, who was speaking through these Hebrew prophets and that He was speaking primarily to New Covenant believers – NOT to the Old Covenant Israelites, when prophesying of Christ’s sufferings and the glorious things His sufferings would accomplish.  You will have a far greater understanding of the mind of God if when reading these Hebrew prophets you realize that when they say, “Thus saith the Lord,” they are really and truly saying, “Thus saith THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!”  Try reading Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel with that thought in mind.  Know that Jesus proclaimed that He and God the Father were one, always in total, complete and utter agreement, and said, “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me” (See John 7:16).  And again, “I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him” (See John 8:26).  If you will keep in mind that it is Jesus speaking when you read the Hebrew prophets, your understanding of the true doctrines of God will expand exponentially IF you are simultaneously departing from any and all sin in your life and striving diligently to please the Lord in all things.

Know that humans can err and err greatly – even Christians, even Christian ministers, even theologians.  A Presbyterian theologian like John Calvin will believe and teach doctrines diametrically opposed to the beliefs and teachings of a famed Baptist theologian like J.R. Graves or H.W. Ironside.  An Amish minister and a Lutheran pastor will find themselves in total disagreement on some of their most basic doctrines and beliefs.  But do not despair.  It is a one-on-one thing with God and His sons and daughters.  God is no respecter of persons.  He will grant YOU a good understanding in all things of which He speaks in the scriptures.  You need only meet the conditions: total, continual surrender to the LORDship of Jesus Christ in your life and study and meditation upon His Word, ALL of it.

When Jesus says, “Come unto me ALL you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” He means just that.  All is all inclusive.  It includes YOU.  Are you laboring under just what to believe and accept as spiritual truth?  Jesus says He WILL give you rest.  Are you heavy laden with doubts about God’s Word or God’s very existence?  Jesus says He will lift that burden.

God WARNS: “The heart (human mind) is deceitful above all things…” (See Jeremiah 17:9).  Remember, God created the human mind.  He knows how it works, and He warns that our minds can be deceived, that we can even deceive ourselves!  But the situation is not hopeless.  In the very next verse God declares, “I the Lord search the heart….”  He knows how to shine a spotlight on the error in our minds and He knows how to instill eternal truth in its place.  He cautions: “Lean not unto your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him (as LORD, Guide, Instructor), and He shall direct your paths” (See Proverbs 3:5-6).  And, again, the very next verse urges that we “depart from evil” (verse 7).

Christ’s servant (Galatians 1:10),

Donald Wiley

 

 

 

 

 

Denominationalism = Division

The author of this article is a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ who claims no denominational affiliation.  “Now this I say, that every one of you says, ‘I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas (Peter); and I of Christ.’  Is Christ divided?” (See I Corinthians 1:12-13).  Writing today, Paul would no doubt have said, “Now this I say, that every one of you says, ‘I am a Baptist, and I am a Methodist, and I am a Lutheran, and I am a follower of Christ.’  Is Christ divided, split into denominations and factions????”  No, I claim no denominational alliance.

I am a teacher of God’s Word in faith and truth.  Salaried, or paid, by no one, I am free to teach the Word without favoritism or fear of departing from the denominational statement of beliefs.  I have been a teacher of the Word of God for many years.  I am now seventy  four years old.  In December of 2011, I was miraculously healed from physician diagnosed  COPD and bronchitis.  My family physician, Matthew Studebaker of Brookville, Ohio, examined me shortly after my healing and declared that I was in good health and no longer needed any medications or inhalers.  Shortly after that I began daily walks of two to seven miles never once experiencing breathing problems or exertion.  It was shortly after my healing that the Holy Spirit impressed upon my mind that I was to continue teaching the Word of God at every opportunity and by any and all means at my disposal.  Hence, I began writing Bible based articles and sending them to area pastors.  I have written dozens of such articles and have sent the same to nearly three hundred pastors throughout the United States.  The cost of the same I have paid for from my social security check or by doing part time janitorial work for various companies in and around Brookville, Ohio.

I learned a long time ago that the overwhelming majority of believers are “locked-in” to their respective denominational creeds and beliefs.  Openmindedness, that is the ability to possess and hold an open mind, is an extremely rare ability in human nature.  I have often said that if openmindedness were to be assigned a value on the world market it would be more valuable than gold, silver, platinum or any other precious commodity as that is how rare it is.  Most, when hearing anything different from what they already believe, tend to turn a deaf ear to what is being said.  Or a scripture or scriptures will pop into their mind that they THINK nullifies what they are hearing and supports their present belief.  The mind then slams shut and no amount of persuasion or reasoning can open it again in that particular area.  That is, unless the Holy Spirit moves, for where the Holy Spirit moves there is liberty to see, to listen, to contemplate, to weigh, to ponder and to prove all things, testing the spirits, the doctrines , the teachings in order to determine if they are from God or not.

Most pastors are “locked in” to their respective creeds, covenants, beliefs, etc.  Ordained a Methodist minister, one will die a Methodist minister.  Ordained a Pentecostal minister, one will die a Pentecostal minister.  Reared in a Baptist home and environment, one will become a Baptist preacher if one feels led to serve the Lord in that capacity.  The white haired Episcopalian priest was a tow headed Episcopalian youth.  This fact alone shows quite eloquently that MOST do not really “prove all things” of a spiritual nature.  Were they to do so, you would find ministers frequently abandoning one denomination for another or else dropping a denominational identity for themselves and their church.  Oh, of course, all such ministers BELIEVE they have adequately proven the scripturalness of their doctrinal stand.  One minister is absolutely certain he can prove from the scriptures that “once saved, always saved” is the teaching of the Bible.  And, of course, the minister of another denomination is 100% absolutely certain he can “prove” one can indeed forfeit their salvation through neglect or continued, unabandoned sin.

Satan’s powers of deception are staggering.  He deceived the wisest man who ever lived into practicing idolatry on a grand scale and at last becoming a veritable enemy of God!   If you haven’t read 1 Kings Chapter 11 slowly and carefully, paying close attention to each and every statement made therein, I would urge you to do so.  Also note King David’s solemn warning to his son Solomon as recorded in I Chronicles 28, verse 9.  And note how similar are the words God Himself spoke to Moses many centuries before.  (See Deuteronomy  31:16-18).  Lucifer was “sum full of wisdom.”  No scripture even indicates he lost any of his super-intelligence upon rebelling against God.  His mind power merely became perverted and used against God.  If he can deceive the wisest man who ever lived, know that he can deceive a thousand theologians and ten thousand times ten thousand preachers.
Jesus Christ is not returning for a rag-tag bunch of bickering, dissenting, finger-pointing, grossly deceived carnal “believers”.  He is returning for a holy bride, walking in the truth and keeping His commandments.  I trust that the reader’s congregation will be in that number.  (Read Revelation 2 and 3 and allow the Holy Spirit to identify your particular assembly).  Also read Revelation 12:17; Rev. 14:12 and Rev. 22:14.

Satan’s Master Stroke of Genius!

 

Regarding the Hebrew scriptures – that section of the Bible most commonly referred to as the Old Testament – this whole giant fund of basic knowledge is ignored by most believers today!  This whole giant storehouse of basic information critical to a right and proper understanding of almost every single Bible doctrine is actually thought by many to be “done away” in Christ.  Most believers do not realize the total depth of deception, of ignorance, of almost complete total darkness that exists in the minds of many, if not MOST, believers.  Many believers, including their pastors and Bible teachers, are as ignorant of what these prophets say as they are of the Chinese language!!  One of the very first recorded statements made by Jesus Christ is this: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD” (See Matthew 4:4).  Note well, Jesus did NOT say that it was the Jew alone who was to live by every word of God, but man, that is mankind, all born human.

Answer me this: Which of these terms are synonymous:  Old Covenant, New Covenant, Old Testament, New Testament.  The answer?  NONE of the four terms just mentioned are synonymous!  Yet untold numbers of believers, even “preachers”, confuse these terms to their lasting spiritual detriment and harm.

The Old Testament is that portion of God’s Word that begins with the Book of Genesis and ends with the Book of Malachi – 39 books in all.  The Old Covenant is spoken of and described in SOME of these Old Testament books, but the Old Covenant is NOT the Old Testament!  Similarly, the New Covenant is spoken of and described in SOME of the books of the New Testament – those 27 books of the Bible that begin with Matthew’s gospel account and end with the Book of Revelation, but the New Covenant is NOT synonymous with the New Testament.

It is absolutely imperative that a believer understands this, because if a believer confuses these terms Satan will move quickly and energetically to convince him, or her, that the Old Testament has been done away with, abolished, or set aside.  This IS true of the Old Covenant – NOT the Old Testament!  A full three-quarters of God’s INSPIRED Word consists of the Hebrew scriptures, commonly called “the Old Testament.”  The believer who says, “I don’t get my doctrine from the Old Testament” cuts himself off from any real understanding of the Word of God.  How so?  Consider the following.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, Jesus, at the very outset of His public ministry, stated quite clearly, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  (See Matthew 4:4).  This would include ALL of the Hebrew scriptures – scriptures that include the words “THUS SAYS THE LORD” hundreds and hundreds of times.  Some would argue, “But God was only speaking to fleshly Israelites of centuries past when He spoke to and through the ‘Hebrew’ prophets.”  Those who put forth that argument have obviously missed the true import of many plain and clear statements made by our Lord’s apostles as well as the Lord Himself.  Consider the following.

There was an occasion when a group of Sadducees confronted Jesus Christ concerning His teaching about the resurrection of the dead – a doctrine they held to be absolutely ludicrous.  His reply to them was “Do you not therefore err, because YOU KNOW NOT THE SCRIPTURES…you therefore do GREATLY ERR!” (See Mark 12:18-29).  Of course, “the scriptures” to which Jesus referred were the Hebrew scriptures.  But, notice, Jesus warned these men they embraced GREAT ERROR due to the fact they did not know, did not read, comprehend and understand the Hebrew scriptures.  Sadly, He could make the exact same statement to many preachers, ministers, and Bible teachers today, as well as many generations preceding our own.  As difficult as it may be for many “Christian” men and women today to believe, many highly respected Christian theologians of recent time, as well as centuries past, have embraced and taught profound error – that error being accepted as scripture truth by the masses!

POSTCRIPT:

I feel compelled by the Spirit to add a few more of the apostle’s comments regarding the supreme, overriding value of the Hebrew scriptures, commonly called the “Old Testament.”

Romans 15:3-6: “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written (Paul now quotes from Psalm 69:9), ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.’  FOR WHATSOEVER THINGS WERE WRITTEN BEFORE (by the Hebrew prophets) WERE WRITTEN FOR OUR (the New Covenant church) LEARNING, THAT WE THROUGH THE PATIENCE AND COMFORT OF THE (HEBREW) SCRIPTURES MIGHT HAVE HOPE.  Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may WITH ONE MIND AND ONE MOUTH glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is not possible for believers to be of “one mind” and of “one mouth” – that is, saying the same thing, teaching the same doctrines, etc., if some believers insist that they will use only the Greek scriptures (the “New” Testament) to formulate their doctrine and beliefs.  Those so doing are divisive, walking disorderly and, concerning such believers, Paul writes: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, AND AVOID THEM.  For those who are such DO NOT SERVE OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, but their own belly (their own fleshly appetites), and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

The “simple” meaning those who are ignorant of the Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament.  If one does not have a good, solid understanding of the Hebrew scriptures, he, in Paul’s language – not mine – is simple, easily deceived and led astray.  He has no idea what God said through Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc., concerning a given doctrine or teaching.

And note well how the apostle Paul closes his letter to the Romans: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel  and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now  is made manifest, AND BY THE SCRIPTURES OF THE PROPHETS, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.  Amen” (See Romans 16:25-27).

Paul clearly says God in His wisdom chose the Hebrew prophets as His vehicle to make manifest our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – not merely pre-recording the major events of Jesus’ life, e.g., his birth place, the time of his appearing, his sacrificial death, etc., but also the teachings and doctrines of Jesus Christ!

In his first letter to the Corinthian believers, Paul says that God’s workings with the fleshly Israelites were recorded to serve as examples for the New Covenant Church of God, “and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come…” (See I Corinthians 10:1-12).  How can an assembly of believers be admonished and instructed by the Hebrew scriptures if they keep insisting, “That wasn’t written for us.  We don’t get out doctrine from the Hebrew scriptures!”

I beseech you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, THINK ON THESE THINGS!!!

Only Believe – Are You Serious?

One of the best  known, most often quoted scriptures in the entire Bible is Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Now, on the face of it, taken alone and all by itself without considering any other statement of holy scripture, that verse seems to say that in order to be saved and granted eternal life, there is only ONE THING a person must do – just have faith, or believe.  That’s all!  But what, or WHO, is it we are to have faith in?  Jesus Christ, of course!  And what is it we are to believe?  Merely believe that He died for our sins PERIOD?  That’s it?  That’s all God expects or requires of us?  Now go about your life whistling “Amazing Grace” and looking forward to spending eternity walking down golden avenues and boulevards??  But what does it really mean to have faith in Jesus Christ?  Does it mean we merely believe He lived, died, and rose from the dead?  Or does it mean believe that much AND MORE,  that we believe what He said and taught and ACT ON or DO what He said?

When Paul says our salvation is “not of works,” does he mean there are no works whatsoever involved in our salvation, or does he mean a certain TYPE of works are not required or necessary?  Let’s look at the context by reading the next two verses in the passage quoted above.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, which God has before ordained (decreed) that we should walk in them (maintain as a matter of daily life).   Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision (aliens) by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands (the Jews)…” (Ephesians 2:10-11).  Note: All comments in parentheses, single words and phrases, are those of the author.

Notice that Paul here mentions a work performed “by hands.”  A work of the flesh, circumcision.  This was, of course, performed as a religious ritual by the Jews, and “Christian” Jews – at least some of them from Judea – “taught the brethren, and said, ‘Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, YOU CANNOT BE SAVED” (See Acts 15:1).  And this is the type of works  to which Paul refers in Ephesians 2:8-9 when he writes that our salvation is NOT of works.

But what about repentance?  Jesus said, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (See Luke 13:3,5).  Jesus taught that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among ALL nations” (See Luke 24:47).  Notice how remission of sins is linked with repentance.  And this is a work, a work we must do over and beyond just believing Jesus died for us and rose again.  The basic Greek word translated by the English word repentance is metanoia (pronounced met-AN’-oy-ah), and means “to regret, to reform, to reverse direction.”  But what do we repent of?  What do we stop doing and reverse direction?  Sin, of course!  We repent of sin.  Jesus said, “Go, and sin no more” (See John 8:11 and John 5:14).  Paul wrote, “Henceforth (after repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior AND LORD) WE SHOULD NOT SERVE SIN” (See Romans 6:6).  And what IS sin? “Sin is the transgression of the law” (See I John 3:4).

So, if we are to repent of sin, to stop sinning, and sin is the transgression of the law (God’s commandments), that would mean we are obligated to start keeping God’s commandments!  The apostle John was very clear about the matter, writing, “He that says, ‘I know Him (claiming to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ), and keeps not His commandments, IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him” (See I John 2:4).  Note that John says the truth is not in the person who breaks God’s commandments.  John had earlier written how Jesus had said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (See John 14:6).  Thus, Jesus is not IN the commandment breaker, the sinner, the one who continues to break God’s commandments, regardless of what that person might believe.  John wrote, “He that commits sin (continues to sin) is of the devil” (See I John 3:6).  The Greek word translated “commits” (or “committeth” in the King James English) in that verse is the exact same Greek word translated “continue” in James 4:13 and Revelation 13:5, so that I John 3:6 actually says, “He who continues to sin is of the devil!”

Although many, if not most, believers will fall into an occasion of sin from time to time, knowingly and wittingly doing something they know good and well God disapproves of or some scripture injunction forbids, no believer led by the Spirit of God will habitually practice sin in their daily lives.  Such behavior would swiftly quench the Spirit and return such a person back into the world of the unbelievers and unredeemed!

Paul urged the carnal believers at Corinth, “Examine yourselves (give yourselves a spiritual “check-up”), whether you be in the faith (try to determine whether you’re truly converted), prove (put to the test) your own selves (stop worrying about the other guy’s spirituality), how that Jesus Christ is IN you, except you be reprobates (false Christians, not really converted at all)” (See 2 Corinthians 13:5).  Notice, Paul says if you are truly converted Jesus Christ is IN you by extension of the Holy Spirit.  He is expressing Himself in and through you.  That is WHY truly converted believers are called the BODY of Christ!  (See Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:30-32; I Corinthians 12:12-27).

When Paul told the Ephesians we are “saved through faith…not of works” the context in which he said that showed he meant works of the flesh, ritualistic religious acts, such as circumcision, ritual washings and cleansings, drink offerings, etc.  He did NOT mean there are no works accompanying our faith.  The works of God MUST accompany our faith.  The only time “faith alone” is found in the scriptures it says a man is not justified by faith alone.

James wrote, “Even so faith, if it has not works, IS DEAD, being alone” (See James 2:17).  James was not in conflict with Paul.  They were just speaking of two different kinds of works!  There are works of the flesh, forbidden, and works of the Spirit – COMMANDED!  Notice the type of works James speaks of in his letter: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).  Pure religion, that is true religion, undefiled by false concepts, has accompanying good works.  Now notice how Paul fully agrees with James when he writes, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works (of fleshly religious rituals), lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship (Jesus is working IN us), created (a new person) in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (See Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Greek word that is translated “walk” in that  10th verse is peripateo (pronounced per-ee-pat-EH’-o), and literally means “to tread all around, to be occupied with.”  It means we are constantly occupied with performing good works.  We live a life of good works.  It should be said of us, as it was said of our Lord, that we were one of those “who went about doing good” (See Acts 10:38).  Compare Philippians 2:12-16.

The good works James describes are practical acts of real helpfulness and kindness: the assisting and helping of widows and orphans (James 1:27), clothing of the naked and feeding of the hungry (James 2:15-17), and obeying God explicitly and without question.  (See James 2:20-23).  And faith without these works is DEAD, and will not save you.  “Ye see then how that by (such) works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).  And then James concludes his remarks in this matter by saying, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).  Friends, a dead faith cannot save you.  Faith without obedience to God’s word is an imperfect, or faulty faith.  It is only when faith is accompanied with works is it perfected and complete; “See how faith wrought (co-operated, accompanied) with his (Abraham’s) works, and by works was faith made perfect (complete)” (See James 2:22).

In Revelation 14, when we see Jesus Christ standing on Mt. Zion with His faithful followers, we read of them, “Here is the patience (Greek, “endurance”) of the saints: Here are they THAT KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, and the faith of Jesus” (verse 12).  The two cannot be separated.  They go hand-in-hand.  True living faith imparted to you by Jesus Christ as a gracious gift will quickly lead you into a lifestyle of keeping God’s commandments.  If it doesn’t, you possess imperfect, humanly-generated faith.  And I tell you, on the authority of God’s word, you are still in your sins – unsaved!

Satan promised Mother Eve life in disobedience.  (See Genesis 3:1-5).  He, through his deceived spokesmen (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15), will do the same for you.  He will whisper in your ear and shout it from the pulpit, “All you need do to be saved and granted eternal life is believe –nothing else is required of you.”  And NOWHERE does the Bible say any such thing.  Jesus Christ “became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY Him” (See Hebrews 5:9).  In Acts 5:32 we are told that God gives His Holy Spirit “to them that OBEY Him.”

When the Philippian Jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” they replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.  AND THEY (THEN) SPOKE UNTO HIM THE WORD OF THE LORD, and to all that were in his house” (See Acts 16:30-32).  To “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” is to BELIEVE WHAT HE SAID AND TO ACT ON WHAT HE SAID.  That is why that thirty-second verse says they then spoke unto him, and his household, the word of the Lord.  And, after hearing what the Lord required, “He…was baptized, he and all his, straightway (immediately)” (See verse 33).

Many who quote from the above text quote only the 31st verse, “And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…’”  They then say that Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer that all he had to do to be saved was believe Jesus died for him!  But that’s NOT what the text says.  They said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and they then “spoke unto him the word of the Lord,” telling him what Jesus taught and required of sinful humans if we are to have our sins forgiven and be granted eternal life.

It was the apostle Paul who wrote to the believers at Rome, “that if you shall confess with the mouth THE LORD Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (See Romans 10:9).  Note well that Paul says one must confess Jesus Christ as LORD in order to be saved.  And He doesn’t mean mere lip service, that we call Him Lord but then live life as we please.  To truly confess Jesus Christ as LORD means to agree that He IS the LORD of your life and that you will DO what He says, obeying Him and allowing Him to guide, direct and lead in your life.  THAT is confessing with your mouth Jesus as LORD.  Anything less than that is mock, or pretend faith, and that kind of faith will save no one.

Jesus said you are a fool if you merely believe on Him without obeying Him: “Not every one that says unto me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” and then went on to say, “Every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man!” (See Matthew 7:21, 26).  Reader, are you a fool???

Saving faith is not the act of a single moment in time.  Saving faith is one’s absolute committal to God, a delivering up of self to God: “He that finds his life (maintains personal control over his life) shall lose it (will miss out on eternal life), and he that loses his life for my sake (a total, irrevocable delivering up of one’s self to God) shall find it” (See Matthew 10:39).  THIS, and more, is what Paul and Silas would have told the Philippian jailer when it says in Acts 16 that they spoke unto him and all that were in the house the word of the Lord!  THAT is rightly dividing the Word of God.  Something few preachers do it seems.

There is not a single Bible reference urging anyone to “ask Jesus to come into your heart” for salvation.  Salvation is not conditioned upon our “accepting Christ,” but on the obedience of living faith.  (See Acts 6:7).  We are not saved by the works of the flesh (See Titus 3:4-7 and Ephesians 2:8-9), but by the works commanded by God.  (See James 2:14-24).  Belief is a work commanded by God (See John 6:27-29).  Baptism is NOT a work of human righteousness, but a work commanded by God.  (See Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; Acts 9:6, 17-18; Acts 10:6,47-48; Acts 16:15,32-33; Acts 18:8 and Acts 22:16).  Our works commanded by God are belief, repentance, confession, baptism and total, continual obedience to God and His commandments – all commanded by the scriptures of any who would receive salvation as a gift of God.

The blind man spoken of in John Chapter 9 was healed entirely by grace, but still he had to DO exactly what Jesus told him to do in order to receive his sight.  Jesus, after anointing the eyes of the blind man with clay, told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam in order to receive his sight.  The blind man did so and was healed.  Had the blind man thought, “Wait.  I am standing in the temple area.  The pool of Siloam is a long distance from where I stand, and there are many water pots for purification purposes all around me here.  I’ll just wash off the clay in one of those.”  Do you think he would have then received his sight?  No, he would not have.  He received his sight entirely by grace, but still he had to do exactly what Jesus said in order to be healed.  So do we, friend.

Read 2 Kings Chapter 5.  Naaman, the Syrian, was healed of his leprosy entirely by the grace of God after being told to wash in the Jordan River seven times by the prophet Elisha.  At first this command of Elisha was rejected as foolish by Naaman.  He thought, “Damascus has two rivers better than all the rivers of Israel!   May I not wash in them and be clean?”  But his servants reasoned with him that had Elisha told him to do some great thing in order to be healed he probably would have done so.  Why not wash in the Jordan?  He did so “and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”  He was healed of his leprosy entirely by grace.  Still, had he not done what was commanded of him by God through His prophet Elisha, he would not have been made whole.

Perhaps you understand more fully now just WHY Jesus said, “Narrow Is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it” (See Matthew 7:14).  The way is narrower than many “believers” think or even imagine.

Faith without works of obedience is not the genuine article.  Saving faith is LIVING faith, a faith so vital it must find expression through good works and instant obedience to God.  Paul described it as “a faith which works by love” – love to God and love to our fellow man.  (See Galatians 5:6).  Do YOU possess living faith?

The same man who wrote Ephesians 2:8-9 also wrote Romans 8:12-13, “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh, to live after the flesh (we no longer have to give in to our fleshly lusts), for if you (do) live after the flesh, YOU SHALL DIE (the second death, as we ALL die the first death however we might live), but if you through the Spirit (the only way possible) do mortify (put to death, cease) the deeds of the body (giving in to fleshly passions and lusts), you shall (then) live.”

Paul also wrote 2 Corinthians 6:16-18: “And what agreement has the temple of God with Belial (“worthlessness,” an epithet used for satan), or what part has he who believes with an infidel (an unbeliever)?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’  (Is God quite obviously dwelling in YOU?)  Wherefore, ‘Come out from among them (the people of this world), and be you separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  That goes somewhat beyond just believing, doesn’t it?  Does one become a son or daughter of God by merely believing Jesus died for them?  Not according to those words penned by the apostle Paul.  Read the entirety of Ephesians Chapter 2 and look at the context.  He speaks of children of disobedience, who are still dead in their trespasses and sins, who walk and live according to the course of this world, and who fulfill the lusts of the flesh and the mind.  Just believing Jesus Christ died for them does NOT make them children of obedience and, thus, children of God.  One would remain a child of wrath.  True living faith energizes one spiritually, giving them spiritual life, uniting one to God and bringing that repentant believer into the household of God and thereby making that individual “an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

I close with some further words from the pen of the apostle Paul written to the believers in Galatia: “Be not deceived.  God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.  For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  And let us not be weary in well doing (obeying God), for in due season we shall reap (life everlasting) if we faint not” (Galatians 6:7-9).

I fear there are going to be a lot of surprised believers at the judgment, men and women who truly believed they were in Christ, converted, at peace with God, who will find too late that they were merely religious, believing a few undeniable facts and truths of the scripture but not “believing unto righteousness” (See Romans 10:10).   One can believe Jesus died for them and not be justified, not be granted God’s Holy Spirit – the power to lead and guide them into living a righteous lifestyle as commanded by God and scripture!  I, myself, was of that number for many, many years.

Paul had just written about those who “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (See verse 3, Romans 10).  Blinded by Satan from seeing that God’s righteousness is attained by submitting to Jesus Christ in toto, allowing Him to serve as our LORD, they have established their own righteousness in thinking they need only believe Jesus died for them.  God’s righteousness is applied in lieu of our guilty past ONLY when we confess with our mouths Jesus is our LORD.  God’s righteousness is only worked out in our present and future when we allow Jesus Christ to maintain HIS control over our lives as our LORD!  Anything short of that leads to false conversion.

Jesus Christ Himself asked, “Why call ye me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say? (See Luke 6:46).    He then went on to say that all those who merely call Him Lord without actually allowing Him to BE the LORD of their lives have built a house without a foundation, a house that will eventually fall into ruin.  (See verses 47-49, same chapter).

Yes, it IS by grace that we are saved by faith – but it is LIVING faith that is the gift from God, a vital, life-changing faith, a faith that guides and orders our daily life and existence.  Such faith no man can boast of having worked up or produced.  It is the kind of faith that gets results.  The believers at Rome and in Thessalonica exhibited such faith, causing Paul to write that their faith was spoken of throughout the whole Roman world.  It was a faith that changed them, making them truly sons and daughters of God.

Reader, if you are without such faith, you are without Christ.  You have no Savior.  By the way, do you know how many times Jesus Christ is called “Savior” in the New Testament?  Twenty-four times.  Do you know how many times He is called “LORD” in the New Testament alone?  SEVEN HUNDRED AND THREE TIMES!  Do you see where the Holy Spirit placed the emphasis when inspiring the New Testament writers to write what they did?  God help you to understand is my prayer.

 

In Search of Hell

The year is 1649 A.D.  The place is Bombay, India.  On March 18th of that year a male infant is born to a young prostitute, a child unwanted, unloved and unnamed.  As a result of a succession of minor miracles, the child lives and matures in years.  At the tender age of ten the boy stands transfixed in wide-eyed terror as a drunken angry “customer” plunges a razor sharp sword into his mother’s belly.  Muttering angrily, the drunken murderer stumbles out into the tiny street, leaving the boy to wonder in dazed consternation and sickening fear what to do, where to go, to whom to turn.

The fiery red sun is sinking low in the heavens as the Hindu priest closes the huge wooden gates of the monastery and begins to place the locking crossbar in place that will serve to keep out any intruders during the night hours whether they be man or beast.  Just as he slides the crossbar into place he hears a dull faint thumping on the gate.  Standing absolutely still, he holds his breath momentarily as he presses his ear against the sun-warmed wood.  Once again he hears a muted thumping quite low on the gate, as though some small animal were bumping at the gate while foraging for food.  Turning away from the gate, the priest begins to walk back to the monastery proper when he hears the distinctive sound of a whimpering human voice.  Swiftly he turns back to the crossbar.  Removing and casting it aside, he flings open the gates.  Lying at his feet is the pathetic figure of a starving boy, suffering from the advanced stages of severe malnutrition.

Andwar Singh!  Andwar Singh!  The young man repeats the name slowly and distinctly obviously relishing the musical sound of each syllable.  The high priest had given him that name just that morning, upon anointing him and consecrating him to the Hindu priesthood two years after he had been found starving at the gate of the monastery.

Andwar Singh had little to be joyful about, little to give him comfort.  Though nineteen years of age now, his ravaged body had never fully recovered from the debilitating effects of severe malnutrition.  Blind since the age of eleven, the disease had also left him without use of his left arm.  Fate had not dealt kindly with Andwar Singh.

In the year 1668 A.D., a devastating earthquake strikes Bombay, India.  If modern technology could be employed, it would be found that this earthquake measured 8.5 on the Richter scale, a quake of terrifying proportions.  Andwar Singh is but nineteen years of age when the monastery in which he finally found some semblance of a bearable lifestyle collapses and crumbles along with thousands of other buildings and dwellings in and around Bombay.  Andwar Singh cries piteously beneath the tons of debris that have crushed his legs, leaving him immobile and unable to render aid to himself or any other.  Sixteen hours later he lapses into welcome unconsciousness.  Twenty-two hours later a heart scarred and battered by a thousand slights and injuries softly, whimperingly stops beating.  Thanks to be God, Andwar Singh is dead!

“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.  Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive”  (Ecclesiastes 4:1-2).

Admittedly, the story of Andwar Singh is a fictitious one.  But I assure my reader that literally millions of Andwar Singhs have trod this planet earth down through the centuries.  Anyone who thinks deeply at all will realize that at this very moment such countries as Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Uganda, Biafra, Pakistan, and dozens more are literally teeming with similar cases – some not as pathetic and heart rending as that of Andwar Singh’s, others far more horrendous and pitiful.

And Andwar Singh’s after-life fate, or eternal destiny?  Many religious folk would assure you that a micro-second after closing his eyes in death way back there in the year 1668 A.D., Andwar Singh’s “soul” went where all poor, ignorant Hindu souls go – TO HELL!   Now, in the year 2016, Andwar has been suffering the torments of the damned for 348 years!  But save your sympathy.  Andwar really doesn’t need it yet.  According to man’s FALSE teaching and beliefs, what he has already suffered is a mere drop in the ocean of fire compared to what a “loving, merciful, compassionate, fair-minded” god has in store for him.  You see, long after the last fiery star has burned out in space, yes, trillions and trillions of ages hence, Andwar will still be screaming in mind-bending pain and agony.  Yes, pity poor Andwar then.  The first and greatest mistake he ever made was in having been born.

And, of course, according to man’s false religious doctrines, we know that the vast majority of all humanity is going to suffer a similar fate.  After all consider all the Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics there are now living and have lived down through the many centuries since Adam’s day!  These warped religious beliefs reveal clearly that Satan is winning this game of chance hands down due to the glaring fact that MOST of humanity, by chance, are born into homes and environments embracing something other than Christianity.  Millions, if not billions were born before Jesus Christ was ever born in Bethlehem of Judea!

Let me assure my reader of one thing at this point: I do not for one moment believe or teach that the god pictured above is the God to whom I give worship and adoration.

But where do all these religious folk get the idea that the “souls” of such hapless, helpless men and women like Andwar Singh descend instantaneously into hell the moment they breathe their last breath?  From the Bible, right?   Well, from the Bible right AND wrong.  It is from a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what the Bible says that such beliefs are formed and find acceptance among so many professing Christians.

One of the “proof” texts used to substantiate their claims that God sends such pitifully helpless beings as Andwar Singh to an ever burning hell at the moment of their death is found in the Gospel According to Luke, the 16th chapter – the “parable” of the rich man and Lazarus.  They assure their hearers that Jesus Christ is relating an actual historical account – NOT a parable – and that Jesus Christ Himself taught that God’s wrath upon ignorant humanity knows no bounds or limits, enduring for all eternity and consisting of the most horrible tortures supernatural mind-power could ever conceive!!!

In Part 2 of this article, we will examine closely the account of the rich man and Lazarus.  My reader might be in a for a few surprises as we do so.  (For Part 2, see “The Rich Man and Lazarus – Part 1”).