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Blog #0110, 05/29/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "FORGIVE"

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          In mid-February on the cable TV channel, "Animal Planet," I watched the true story of a retired rodeo cowboy who bought a ranch and a large herd of bison (often called buffalo). He lost an eye later and had no choice but to sell the herd—except for a newborn bull calf whose mother had rejected it. That pulled at his heartstrings, so he kept it. Very quickly, the aging cowboy learned that his new pet was determined not to be anybody's pet. That bison calf was unlike any other animal the cowboy had ever encountered. It was wilder than any bronco and meaner than any bull he had ever ridden. The only behavior that little animal knew was misbehaving. Put him into a round pen and he'd bend the steel panels!


          Having successfully broken and trained a few wild horses in his day, the cowboy tried every method and every technique that had worked for him before. He even tried some things he'd heard about but had never used. That stubborn little bison wouldn't have any of it. He roughed up that leathery cowboy every single time they were together in the round pen...acted like he wanted to kill him! Injured him pretty badly a few times, too. But cowboys "cowboy-up," you know.


          After mending for a few days from one of those injuries, he told his wife this: "I'm gonna go back out there with 'Wild Thing' again tomorrow and I don't care what he does to me or how bad it hurts, I'm gonna act like nothin' happened." That's what he did. And it hurt. It hurt a lot. That little bison wouldn't let up, either! But after a couple of hours, he was noticeably confused, maybe even frustrated. He had tried every method and every technique that had been programmed into his evil DNA. He even tried some things he had dreamed about but hadn't used yet! The old cowboy and the young bull calf stood at opposite sides of that round pen and stared each other down for several hours. Finally, the cowboy opened the gate and made his way to the house. His wife had been watching...some of the time. She helped him bathe and then carefully dressed his wounds. The two of them didn't speak.


          Next morning at daybreak, the cowboy entered the round pen. Wild Thing stood at the opposite side, staring. Whenever the cowboy would move left or right, Wild Thing would move in the opposite direction. Both were poker-faced. Neither moved forward. That became their routine every day for almost a month. Wild Thing never stopped tearing up everything in sight (like steel round pen panels and such), but he never again charged the cowboy.


          The rest of that story is just as colorful, but you can picture the unfolding of it in your own mind after I share this: Those rough and tough guys became friends! Among the parting camera sequences was one of the full grown bison tiptoeing as gently as a puppy through the cowboy's house, never using the bathroom or tipping over a vase on a table. Still today, though, he bends the steel panels of round pens and stuff like that. So why the story?


          You may be among the readers who've already connected it to what God's word teaches about forgiving others, even as He forgiven us. But Wild Thing and his lifelong cowboy friend also taught me a lesson about how those "others" may very well respond when we behave as if we have forgiven their wrongs—after having turned the other cheek.


          You’re likely familiar with some of the scriptures. Hope you’ll read them in your own Bible. This short list is far from complete, but it should prompt your memory of others:

          > "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until 

             seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." —Matthew 18:21,22

          > "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, 

             neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." —Jesus, at Mark 11:25,26

          > "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye." —Paul, at Colossians 3:13


          While you're contemplating all this, please be aware that no scripture instructs us to TELL another person, "I forgive you." The process of forgiving and then behaving as if one has forgiven benefits the forgiver. Unless they have specifically requested forgiveness, when others hear "I forgive you," they typically think it's a clear indication of judgmental self righteousness. Too often their assessment is accurate.


—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0109, 05/22/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "HOUSE CHURCH, Good or Bad?"

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          Is the "house church" phenomenon a good thing or a bad thing? It can be a good thing, but most house church experiments fail. The burning question is why do they typically fail? I mean, after all, the 1st-Century Christians met in private homes, didn't they? So, with hoards of long-time churchgoers now abandoning the visible church, shouldn't someone start finding out how to make the small Bible study group thing work? House church can be a great alternative to the visible institutional church—so long as instruction, correction and reproof are interactive and truly reciprocal.


          Although, at any given point, some will be more advanced in their accumulation of knowledge and understanding than others, they and the others must work diligently to avoid any perception that they're somehow "special." Without such diligence, human nature (i.e.: the sin nature) will quickly cause the group to default to the unfortunate characteristics of the visible institutional church. For long-term success, everyone in the group must work to keep the playing field level.


          My wife and I are part of a small Bible study group. Although we typically meet in our home, my conclusions are frequently challenged and that's the way I want it. Why? Because that's the way I get to learn, too! I have possibly learned more over the last nine years from people who have disagreed with me than from those who have agreed. They're the ones who force me to keep studying and re-studying. (Iron sharpens iron, you know.) Our mutual challenge, then, is to always respond in the style of the Bereans at Acts 17:11.


          Got a small Bible study group? Wanting to start one? The critical guidelines at http://dypk.org/how-to-study can become the worthy foundation for a highly productive series of organizational studies for you – to substantially increase the likelihood of your long-term success.


          Finally, follow this link to learn what one really smart guy has concluded about WHY record numbers of people are choosing to leave the visible institutional church: http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/244545-dear-church-heres-people-really-leaving.html?print. Although I can't agree with all of his observations and conclusions, I honestly couldn't have written a better article. (I think you'll find his writing style refreshing, too.)


—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0108, 05/15/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "APPLE TREE at EDEN?"

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          Yes, there were trees in that garden—possibly even an apple tree or two. But let's explore a few of the pertinent scriptures to find out what kind of tree it might've been whose fruit Eve got so excited about that she could hardly wait for Adam to try it, too. And why did God forbid it? Here's a good place for us to start:

          > "And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the 

             tree of knowledge of good and evil." —Genesis 2:9


          God uses things with which we're familiar in the natural world to help us understand concepts that would otherwise be difficult to comprehend. Here, he made a clear distinction between the trees that grow out of the ground and the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But what were the differences? Ezekiel knew. He recorded this about the tree of knowledge of good and evil in that garden:

          > "The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden 

             of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that [were] in the garden of God, envied 

             him... To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? Yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the 

             earth..." —Ezekiel 31:8,9,18


          Now that you understand that the tree of knowledge of good and evil wasn't a literal tree, let's continue with God's instructions to Adam:

          > "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not 

             eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." —Genesis 2:16,17

You'll find it interesting to note that The Online Interlinear Bible (a literal Hebrew-to-English translation) renders that verse like this: "and from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil not you shall eat from HIM that in day of to eat of you from HIM to die you shall die." —www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Hebrew_Index.htm


          There is this about Adam and Eve before eating of that fruit:

          > "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." —Genesis 2:25

...and this about them after they ate of that fruit:

          > "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." —Genesis 3:7


          The burning question, then, is why were Adam and Eve suddenly excited about – and simultaneously embarrassed by – their fully exposed differences? Could an apple have caused that? If so, the apple must surely be without equal among aphrodisiacs. Of such is the knowledge of good and evil, you know. Forbidden fruit.


          Both the Old and New Testaments use the word, "beguiled," to describe those episodes in the shadows of the Garden of Eden:

          > "And the LORD God said unto the woman, What [is] this [that] thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled[H-5377] me, and I did eat." —Genesis 3:13

          > "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled[G-1818] Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." —Paul, 

             at 2 Corinthians 11:3

These are the entries from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:

          [H-5377] at Genesis 3:13

          —nâsha', "to lead astray: i.e.: (mentally) to delude, or (morally) to seduce:—beguile, deceive, X greatly, X utterly." < to totally/greatly/utterly/morally seduce

          [G-1818] at 2 Corinthians 11:3

          —ěxapataō, "to seduce wholly: —beguile, deceive." < to wholly seduce


          For those who'll remain objective as they continue to study, it will become more and more apparent that Eden's tree of life was Jesus and that the tree of knowledge of good and evil (and that Serpent) was Satan. So what was the fruit that Eve was so anxious for Adam to experience, too?


—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0107, 05/08/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "BROTHERHOOD of MAN"

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          "We're ALL members of the universal brotherhood of man; right?" While that cliché sounds really religious and although it makes people feel the warm fuzzies when they say it, the answer is an unequivocal "No." The Bible is clear: The human race is NOT a brotherhood, but a neighborhood. Here's just one of many scriptures that support that informed conclusion:

          > "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do 

             good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you...And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do 

             not even the publicans so? —Jesus, at Matthew 5:43-47


          If you are an active follower of Christ, you're a member of the worldwide brotherhood of Christians. Those who do not follow Christ are your neighbors. As a follower of Christ, you're either a natural part of (or you've been grafted into) the lineage of Abraham. Either would make you a bona fide Hebrew. You have become one of God's chosen people; "the elect"—and, thence, a part of the bride of Christ. Follow this link for some additional extremely valuable insight: http://dypk.org/documents/Appendix%205.pdf.

God created a race of male AND female humans, adm – the generic Hebrew word for human beings. on Day 6:

          > "So GOD CREATED MAN (i.e.: adm) in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; MALE AND FEMALE created he them (plural)." —Genesis 1:27


          That was on Day 6 of Creation. Those people were hunter-gatherers. Their assignment was to subdue and manage the planet and its inhabitants.

          > "...from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." —Jesus, at Mark 10:6


          Later, God observed that there was no man among those He had created on Day 6 to till the ground:

          > "...and [THERE WAS] NOT A MAN TO TILL THE GROUND." —Genesis 2:5

             So He created the single male human being: ath-e·adm – the Hebrew word specific to THE man God created at some unknown point after His Day-7 Sabbath:

          > "And the LORD God formed man (i.e.: ath-e·adm) [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the 

             LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put THE man (ath-e·adm) whom he had formed." —Genesis 2:7,8

THE man, Adam, was a farmer. His initial assignment was to take care of a single, specific garden.


          It was from ath-e·adm that Noah and his offspring – and ultimately Jesus, the Christ – would genetically descend.


          Later – possibly much later – God was unable to find a woman from His Day-6 creation with suitable genetic makeup or suitable character (No one knows which.) to be the wife for THE man, Adam—ath-e·adm:

          > "...but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him." —Genesis 2:20

So he created Eve:

          > "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof" —Genesis 2:20

             Was that a literal rib of bone or might it have been an angular rib of Adam's DNA...? No one knows for sure.

          > "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh 

             of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man (specifically ath-e·adm)."—Genesis 2:22,23

          

          Still later, Eve's son, Cain, was to find his wife among the hunter-gathers of God's Day-6 creation. The tribe he joined had settled in the land of Nod.


          There's a lot more to this critical story that you will likely not get "in church." But, without understanding the truth about the book of Genesis, much of the rest of God’s written word just won't make sense—the "dots" just won't "connect!" It is said that some Bible scholars (including more than a few preachers) have abandoned the faith after discovering that.

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0106, 05/01/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "END of the EARTH"

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          The Old Testament term, "the end of the earth," is said to refer to what we call The British Isles, today. New Testament's term for that same area is "the uttermost part of the earth." Here are two important examples:

          >  "Sing unto the LORD a new song, [and] his praise from the end [singular] of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants 

              thereof." —Isaiah 42:10 (See, also, Isaiah 49:6.)

          >  "... ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part [singular] of the earth." —Jesus, at Acts 1:8

 

          Why is it important for you to know that? For one thing, knowing who you are and why you are where you are can have a substantial impact on how you approach your assigned role as a follower of Christ. Someone asked, "But aren't we all members of the universal brotherhood of man?" While that cliché sounds almost religious and although it makes people feel the warm fuzzies when they say it, the answer is "No." (That's an unequivocal "No.") The Bible is clear on that point: The human race is not a brotherhood, but a neighborhood. Here's just one of many scriptures that support that observation:

          >  "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do 

              good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you...And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do 

              not even the publicans so? —Jesus, at Matthew 5:43-47

 

          If you are an active FOLLOWER of Christ, you are a member of the worldwide brotherhood of Christians. Non-Christians are your neighbors. As a follower of Christ, you are either a natural part of – or you have been grafted into – the lineage of Abraham. Either would make you a bona fide Hebrew. You have become one of God's chosen people; "the elect," and, thence, a part of the bride of Christ. (Yes, I know you probably haven't learned about all this in church, so please feel free to submit your questions if you have them.)

 

          This revelation may come as a complete surprise to you: Some Hebrews are Jews, but most are not. Follow this link for some extremely valuable insight: http://dypk.org/documents/Appendix%205.pdf. Meanwhile, please know that the sceptre was not unconditionally given to national Judah, but to the seed of the man, Judah. Only his genetic descendants are "Jews." (I think you'll want to read Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 to comprehend the critical importance of that.)

 

          This may surprise you, too: The formerly "lost" 10 tribes of Israel are now known to have migrated North into "the end of the earth" and other parts of Europe. They became the dominant races in those lands—Anglo Saxon [That "Saxons" name > "Isaac's sons"]. They were also known as Caucasians, because they traversed the Caucasian Pass between the Black and Caspian seas on their prophesied journeys. In some notable cases, they became the ruling families of those lands. There were also multiple migrations of Jews (i.e.: genetic descendants of the man, Judah) to the same area. Historians often refer to them as "Jutes." The northern part of today's Denmark [> DANmark] is the Jutland Peninsula.

 

          Those who initially became monarchs in the British Isles were directly descended from Judah and Tamar's other twin son, Zarah—born with a (literal and prophetic) Scarlet Thread tied to his hand. Zarah’s twin brother was Pharez. You'll find that story to be uncommonly fascinating. Read it at Genesis 38. Research the story a bit further to learn that the name, Zarah, means "the seed" and Pharez means "a breach."

          >  "One thing is made quite clear in the Bible, concerning the sons of Zarah, and that is, that they were famous for their intelligence and wisdom, for it was only the great God-given wisdom of Solomon which is declared to have risen above theirs …(1 Kings 4:29,31)" —J. H. Allen in Part Second, Chapter VI, of Joseph’s Birthright and Judah’s Sceptre [1902]

 

          The sceptre remained with the Judah/Pharez line (i.e.: "the breach") until the demise of Zedekiah. Traditional teaching would have you believe that Zedekiah was the last Judean king. If that were true, then God clearly lied to David through the prophet, Nathan, at 2 Samuel 7:12,16. The fact is there was NO break in the royal line of Judah. That's because the genetic descendants of Judah's Zarah line began ruling in The British Isles – a.k.a. "the end of the earth" – even before Zedekiah's death.

 

          Those who ascribe the designation "Jews" to all the descendants of Israel will never be able to connect the Scriptural "dots" for making sense of the rest of God's written word – especially the Old Testament. Studying the scriptures without that knowledge can yield only confusion: I was personally astonished to learn that some Bible scholars have abandoned the faith for that reason. The "dots" just won’t "connect" when the foundational premise is flawed. So, if not in church, where should a person learn about such really important stuff...? "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." —Hosea 4:6

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0105, 04/24/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "Why MARRY?"

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          You've probably heard that the divorce rate among those who're aligned with the visible church is at least as high as for those who claim no religious affiliation. You may also suspect that's true. Why, then, should ANY couple marry? Isn't "marriage" just a piece of paper?

 

          The marriage ceremony is a Rite of Passage. That's a ritual event that marks a person's transition from one status to another. Rites of Passage explore and describe various notable milestones in an individual's life for any marked transitional stage when one's social status is altered. Often, they are rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group. Life's milestones include personal transitions from such things as puberty, high school, college, marriage and death. For people of faith, ceremonies like baptism, confirmation and Bar Mitzvah are important rites. For anthropologists, Rites of Passage reveal what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures.

 

          Rites of Passage have been practiced on our planet ever since God's Day-6 creation of the first male/female human couple. [See Genesis 1:27 to confirm that he created a couple on Day 6; not just a man, as is commonly thought.] Cultures throughout history have recognized, for example, that it takes a lot more than physical growth for boys to move from their dependency mindsets of boyhood to the productivity mindsets of manhood. The resulting rites were designed to appropriately shift the male psyche for the ultimate benefit of a community. While certain aspects of such rites have remained consistent throughout time and culture they have evolved in most societies. On at least one south Pacific island, though, the traditional rites may have remained static for eons:

 

          Tribesmen of Pentecost Island are renowned for a death defying Rite of Passage. It's called land diving: The young men of each village invest up to seven weeks to build their own respective 90-foot-tall wooden platforms on steep hillsides during early Summer. They climb to the top of those towers and jump! For "safety," they attach vines to their ankles. The vines must be long enough to make sure the hair of the young man jumping will actually touch the ground! Sorry; no bungee cords allowed! (I'd want to grow some really, really long hair! You?) And there's no "on-a-curve" grading, either! Older men determine whether a given dive is "pass" or "fail." A "pass" yields all the benefits and responsibilities of manhood within the island culture. Those who "pass" feel pretty good about themselves afterward. Whew!

 

          But marking the transition to manhood is far from the only Rite of Passage that is somewhat common among global cultures. There are Rites of Passage that commemorate a sailor's first crossing of the Equator, too. Sailors who've crossed the Equator are nicknamed "Shellbacks." Sailors who haven't crossed the Equator are nicknamed "Slimy Pollywogs." Sea captains know that the Shellbacks have proven their ability to handle some of the roughest seas that exist on Earth. Better to recruit more Shellbacks, then, and fewer Slimy Pollywogs for a potentially difficult voyage.

 

          Many Rites of Passage are documented on paper. That includes certificates of marriage, school diplomas and other elaborate documents to confirm that a person has earned an advanced degree. Some certificates document the fact that a person has been inducted into a given hall of fame, etc. Scouting organizations commemorate various levels of achievement with merit badges and such.

 

          I once read of an interview with a high rise steelworker. The interviewer asked, "What do you like about your job?" The steelworker replied, "At the end of every day, I can look up and actually see what I've accomplished and feel proud."

 

          That's pretty much what Rites of Passage are all about...being able to see and reflect on the circumstances, times and places of "special" events and accomplishments. During Old Testament times, God often instructed the Hebrew people to stack ROCKS to make altars. Why? Beyond sacrifice and worship there were at least two other reasons:

          A.  So they'd remember it:

                Every time those who had benefited from a given miracle would walk near that stack of rocks, they would be reminded, again, that God had done what only God 

                could have done and that they had been the very fortunate beneficiaries of it.

          B.  To make sure others would hear about God's trustworthiness: 

                Decades later when someone would ask, "Why is that stack of rocks over there?" they would inevitably hear the story of God's awesome compassion, power and 

                faithfulness.

 

          God knows human nature (i.e.: the Sin nature) well. He knows that memories of bad times linger forever in our minds and that the memories of good times fade quickly…unless there are visible "stacks of rocks" to make certain we don't forget. Will that work today?

 

          I visualize Rites of Passage as wooden stakes driven into the ground. The effect of the pomp and circumstance of each truly special occasion has the effect of indelibly imprinting the memory of it on the hearts and minds of the participants and of the observers. In the case of marriage, God is also an observer. Those who embark on a marriage expecting it to thrive acknowledge that and remind themselves of it often—especially during the inevitable trying times.

 

          The marriage ceremony and the vows that accompany it comprise a critically important ritual event that marks the definitive transition of a couple from respective "me" mindsets to a collective "we" mindset and commitment. Together, that couple drives a figurative wooden stake into the ground which neither of them will EVER forget.

 

          So who benefits? Each person in that marriage benefits. That married couple benefits collectively. Any children born to that couple benefit. The local community benefits. Society benefits. How? Well founded marriages yield strong family units. Strong family units encourage the aspiration to strong family units in less fortunate observers. As local communities gradually become characterized by strong family units, those communities become stronger and more effective in their function. When more and more communities become stronger and more effective, the greater society can begin to show a healthy growth toward a solid foundation of responsible personal and collective functional integrity.

 

          Perhaps you have observed what happens when a society loses the benefit of strong marriages, strong family units and strong communities. Can the U.S.A. recover what it has clearly lost? Not this year or next year, but we can recover. You can be an effective catalyst for that recovery...whenever you are faced with the choice of establishing a strong marriage or shacking up.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0104, 04/17/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "What's Your 'CALLING'?"

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          Like millions of the naive faithful, I waited and prayed for decades that the Lord would reveal His calling on my life. Meanwhile, I pursued things I enjoyed and was pretty good at doing. Those were secular pursuits for the most part. They yielded a good living and I had a ball! Still, though, I often thought God just didn't have a plan for me, except maybe to be a good adult Sunday School teacher and spokesman for my denomination's "what 'we' believe" franchise.

 

          Much later, I learned that He had been preparing me for TODAY. So, what was "my calling" during all the previous decades? It was to pursue things I enjoyed and was pretty good at doing! Might that be God's current plan for you, too?

 

          Among the confusing messages of the visible church is that each of us should anticipate a "special" calling, much like the one Samuel experienced. The disturbing result? Many of the naive faithful come to believe that their preachers are "called" and the rest of us are "NOT 'called'." The vast majority of the professional clergy come to think that, too—at least subliminally. So, the presumed "NOT 'called'" regularly pack the bleachers to watch and cheer as paid professional Christians compete in "get'em 'saved'" games on well-lit playing fields.

 

          One of several problems with that is this: Jesus, in The Great Commission [Matthew 28:19,20], didn't command the Church to "get'em 'saved'." He commanded us (ALL of us) to MAKE DISCIPLES of'em AFTER they've heard and believed the Gospel message. Given that, whose "calling" is more important? And which "calling" has the potential to be more effective and more efficient? (God is not the author of confusion.)

 

          A valued correspondent wrote this on January 21st: "When a naive believer fails to receive this 'special' calling, the door is left wide open for a preacher's voice to become 'the voice of God'—especially in churches where there is preacher worship and the church dictates 'standards and convictions' for everybody."

 

This is how I responded—

 

          Typically, it's a preacher or a parent or another zealous relative who fills that unfortunate perceived vacuum to become "the voice of God." As an example, my mom tried her best to make me into a preacher. Her motives were purely subliminal, thank goodness:

          A.  To be able to bask in the admiration of her would-be-preacher-mommas peer group

          B.  To qualify her for special preacher-momma blessings in Heaven. The fact that her dad was a very well-known "super-preacher" may've played a big role in that. She kept telling me I could become the next Oral Roberts. Hmmm...  [Read 2 Corinthians 11:5 in several Bible versions to understand the term, "super-preacher."]

 

          Aside from yielding to such carnal motives, my mom was a godly woman who would stop to actually get onto her knees and pray for me several times every day. Her prayers were worthy and appropriately effective. They may've been responsible for my acquisition of discernment. Along with that and a touch of wisdom, I have learned to lean more to my God-given intellect than to my feelings in matters of importance: "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9

 

          And there's this: "MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF  [righteousnes?]   [sincerity?]   [worship?]   [prayer?]   [hyperspirituality?]   [holiness?]   [regular church attendance?]   [believing "what 'we' believe"?]   [faith?]   [getting "truly 'saved'?"]   [becoming full time Paid Professional Christians?]   KNOWLEDGE." —Hosea 4:6

 

          Want to gain knowledge? In "church," people learn what to study...to confirm denominational DOCTRINES. To begin learning how to study God’s written word...to gain the knowledge of TRUTH...visit www.DYPK.org often. The "HOW TO STUDY" tab is one of several that can prove helpful to you. (To see weekly updates, just "LIKE" our Facebook page!)

 

          Here's my take on all this: The janitors, grass-cutters and nursery workers in the visible church will receive much greater rewards in Heaven than ANY of our Paid Professional Christians, who – with their glorious titles of "reverence" and pompous attire and follower's accolades (and followers' dollars) – have already received their reward.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0103, 04/10/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "NAPOLEAN re: JESUS "

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excerpts from Napoleon's testimony to Christ at St. Helena


          "I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and every other religion the distance of infinity...


          "We can say to the authors of every other religion, You are neither gods nor the agents of Deity. You are but missionaries of falsehood, moulded from the same clay with the rest of mortals...


          "Paganism was never accepted as truth by the wise men of Greece, neither by Socrates, Pythagoras, Plato, Anaxagoras nor Pericles. But on the other side the loftiest intellects since the advent of Christianity have had faith, a living faith, a practical faith, in the mysteries and the doctrines of the gospel...

 

          "Paganism is the work of man...What do these gods, so boastful, know more than other mortals?...They have made a perfect chaos of morals. There is not one among them all who has said anything new in reference to our future destiny, to the soul, to the essence of God, to the creation. Enter the sanctuaries of paganism—you there find perfect chaos, a thousand contradictions, the immobility of sculpture, the division and the rending of unity, the parcelling out of the divine attributes, mutilated or denied in their essence, the sophisms of ignorance and presumption, polluted fêtes, impurity and abomination adored, all sorts of corruption festering in the thick shades, with the rotten wood, the idol and his priest...Are these religions and these gods to be compared with Christianity?

 

          "As for me, I say no...I judge the gods, but am far from prostrating myself before their vain images...I see nothing there which reveals divinity...I recognise the gods and these great men as being like myself. They have performed a lofty part in their times, as I have done. Nothing announces them divine. On the contrary there are numerous resemblances between them and myself, foibles and errors which ally them to me and to humanity...

 

          "It is not so with Christ. Every thing in Him astonishes me. His Spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Between Him and everyone else in the world there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by Himself. His ideas and His sentiments, the truths which He announces, His manner of convincing, are not explained either by human organization or by the nature of things. His birth, and the history of His life; the profundity of His doctrines which grapples the mightiest difficulties, and which is, of those difficulties, the most admirable solution; His gospel, His apparition, His empire, His march across the ages and the realms, everything is to me a prodigy, a mystery insoluble, which plunges me into a reverie from which I cannot escape, a mystery which is there before my eyes, a mystery which I can neither deny nor explain. Here I see nothing human.

 

          "...His [Jesus'] religion is a revelation from an intelligence which certainly is not that of man. There is there a profound originality, which has created a series of words and of maxims before unknown. Jesus borrowed nothing from our sciences. One can absolutely find nowhere, but in Him alone, the imitation or the example of His life...

 

          "In fact the sciences and philosophy avail nothing for salvation; and Jesus came into the world to reveal the mysteries of heaven and the laws of the Spirit...At His voice everything returns to order, science and philosophy become secondary. The soul has reconquered its sovereignty. All the scholastic scaffolding falls, as an edifice ruined, before one single word—faith!               

 

          "What a Master, and what a word, which can effect such a revolution! With what authority does He teach men to pray! He imposes His belief, and no one thus far has been able to contradict Him: first, because the gospel contains the purest morality, and also because the doctrine which it contains of obscurity is only the proclamation and the truth of that which exists which no eye can see and no reason penetrate. Who is the insensate who will say 'No' to the intrepid voyager who recounts the marvels of the icy peaks which he alone has had the boldness to visit? Christ is that bold voyager. [Rather irreverent methinks.] One can doubtless remain incredulous; but no one can venture to say it is not so."

 

         You can always discover something new at www.DYPK.org.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0102, 04/03/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "FANS & FOLLOWERS"

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—a true story, except for the characters' names


          "How about joining us for Bible study on Saturday morning?" Bill asked a corporate colleague.

          "I'd really enjoy that," Jim replied, "but it would encroach on my other religion."

          "Oh? What's that?" probed Bill.

          "Georgia Football. Saturday is a big day for the Dawgs and Jackets rivalry, you know," Jim announced.

 

          Bill understood. Though he was not personally a fan, most of his friends were passionate about sports. For weeks, though, he was unable to shake Jim's characterization of football as "my other religion." Might Jim have unwittingly disclosed more fact than fantasy? If he did have two religions, how did they compare? Could their comparison reveal strong contrasts? For months Bill reflected frequently on those questions. He perceived the need for some definitions:

 

          "Fan," "follower" and "enthusiast" were among the terms he analyzed first. He concluded that there are many similarities between "enthusiast" and "fan," depending on one's perspective. Because "fan" is short for "fanatic" it must include the context for "enthusiast." But "follower" is a distant relative of "fan" and "enthusiast;" i.e.: One who "follows" Georgia Football may lack the passion of the "enthusiasts" and the "fans." Bill soon concluded that the real need was for objective analysis and comparison of Jim's two "religions."

 

          Jim makes no secret of his enthusiasm for Georgia Football or for Christianity in the workplace. Always visible on his corporate management desk is a large Bible. Emblems of Georgia football are also on his desk, credenza and office wall. Even his home mailbox is emblazoned with the slogan, "How 'Bout Them Dawgs?"(R). U of GA symbols are also on his car, along with a bumper sticker that advertises the megachurch he attends. He teaches an also-large adult Bible class on Sunday mornings—has done that for many years.

 

          At church, at work and at play, Jim is known as a man's man. He has memorized the current Dawgs(R) schedule and can recite critical player-by-player stats for all the current (and several former) Georgia football players. He speaks with confidence about the school's coaches and the relative wisdom of their respective appointments…and of their recent game and season strategy decisions. He really lights up when someone engages him in conversation about his favorite team. To make sure that happens often, even his golf balls and much of his golfing attire are marked with trademarked Georgia Football symbols.

 

          Jim enjoys going to church. He finds the fellowship rewarding. He is especially attracted to other church members who are also Dawgs(R) fans. His nationally known pastor is one of them. They enjoy golfing and having lunch together often.

 

          Coworkers sometimes ask Jim about his faith. He typically responds by proclaiming the essence of "what 'we' believe" about the Bible and Christianity. Arguably, like most Christian Believers, he can only speak to his denominational dogma, though. Why? That's because he has learned only WHAT to study in the Bible...to confirm his church's Doctrines. Family and career and hobbies have left him with no perceived time to learn HOW to study the Bible, to discover original truth. What's the problem with that? All seminaries teach "what 'we' believe." Their naïve graduates preach "what 'we' believe." Their sincere faithful buy into "what 'we' believe." Let the buyer beware.

 

          By contrast, Jim has made time to learn all the critical facts about his "other religion." About Georgia Football, Jim has digested MEAT. About Christianity, he has consumed only MILK. Is it possible that Jim does NOT have two religions? Might he, instead, have a religion and a hobby? If so, which is which? Of which is he a "fan?" Of which is he a "follower?"

          >  "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to

              teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the

              teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." —Hebrews 5:11-14 [NIV]

          >  "My people are destroyed for lack of   [righteousnes?]   [sincerity?]   [worship?]   [prayer?]   [hyper-spirituality?]   [holiness?]   [regular church attendance?]   [believing

              "what 'we' believe"?]   [faith?]   [getting "truly 'saved'?"]   knowledge —Hosea 4:6 [KJV]

 

          Bible knowledge is acquired actively, objectively and intellectually. "It is written." Because it is written, we must each be aggressive in our objective searching for it. The burning question is should we each be as aggressive as are the sports fans who do whatever it takes to become fully knowledgeable about their favorite sports and their favorite teams.

 

          The scriptures call those who fail to engage their minds to gain written Bible truth "babes." "Babes" reason with their hearts; i.e.: their feelings. While acknowledging the leanings of their hearts, mature[ing] Christians reason with their minds, having put on the mind of Christ. Most Christian believers and even their clergy appear never to advance beyond that "babe" stage, though. They reason passively, driven only by their feelings...and by a strong, heart-felt trust in their very human and also stereotypically uninformed and/or misinformed human leaders.

 

          Because their minds are disengaged, they are hyper-vulnerable to "other" spirits. Lucifer will find it easy to deceive them. If he hasn't deceived them already, then certainly early during Anti-Christ's reign. Meanwhile, you may recall that deceiving spirits can yield the same "warm fuzzies" that most of us associate with The Holy Spirit. That's how they deceive. [Follow this link to more on "The Warm Fuzzies:" http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/BLOG/0063.pdf.]

          >  "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" —Paul, at 1

              Timothy 4:1

          >  "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." —1 John 4:1

 

          Arguably, most Christian believers acquire substantially more knowledge about and understanding of their hobbies than about the Bible and Christianity. [Please stop reading this for just a minute and turn in your Bible to Proverbs 1:22.] Individual Christian believers are at fault, yes. But the visible church has also missed the mark of its high calling: Collectively, it has done a respectable job of making Believers; but who's making Disciples? The Church will rise from the ashes of the visible church. Will you be a part of it?

          >  "…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of. them that diligently seek him." —Hebrews. 11:6

How does one diligently seek him?

          >  "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." —Jesus, at Luke 14:33

 

          It's true: The word, "fan," is short for "fanatic." It must include the context for "enthusiast." But the word, "follower," is a distant relative of both "fan" and "enthusiast." A person who "follows" Georgia Football typically lacks the passion and the commitment of the "enthusiasts" and the "fans."

 

          Do you have a hobby? Do you have a religion? Which is which? Are you a "fan" or a "follower" of Christ and Christianity?

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman


Blog #0101, 03/27/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "The BLAME"

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          God has preserved His word in writing for us so that we who seek truth need not be deceived by denominational dogma and delusional fables. Is that Word so nebulous, complex and confusing as to require professional interpreters? Some will be surprised to learn that it is not. Then why are there so many different expert "interpretations" of the critical messages of that Word? With each interpretation isn't there another denomination? Within each denomination don't different interpretations foster further division? Isn't the church supposed to be Christ's Body? How can that body, now divided almost completely against itself, stand? And who's the culprit, for goodness' sake?


          Is it Satan? It would be easy to blame it all on Satan, especially because we know he'll succeed in deceiving millions of sincere Christian believers and their preachers during (and apparently well before) Anti-Christ's reign.


          Are mainstream Christian institutions the culprits? It would be easy to blame it all on the visible church, especially because we know that, for multiple centuries, the clergy were delighted that literacy was the exception among the faithful. [How important might it be for Christians to be up-to-speed on world/church history"]


          What of the rank-and-file members of the mainstream clergy, our local pastors? Is it their fault? It would be easy to blame it on the preachers, because a majority of them (including the seminary graduates) clearly have not done their most critical homework.


          No? Then it must surely be the fault of each individual parishioner. That'd be an easy conclusion, wouldn't it? After all, the stereotypical Christian Believer never advances from passive Believership to productive Discipleship. There's a huge difference, you know.


          Some will be surprised to learn that Human Nature – a.k.a. the Sin nature – is the culprit. That's why the observably pervasive confusion and deception! We're commanded to get rid of it at Romans 12:2. Multiple Old Testament and New Testament scriptures tell us why we must execute human nature. Jeremiah 17:5 even quotes the Lord as saying, "Cursed [be] the man that trusts in man…" Paul addressed the inevitable consequence of failing to execute human nature:

          > "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall 

             turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." —2 Timothy 4:3,4


          To the Thessalonians he wrote this:

          > "…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God. shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 

             That they all might be damned who believed not the truth..." —2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

             That warning is specific to the truth about the relative timing, within the sequence of end-time events, for Christ's return to gather the saints.

             Some will respond, "But Jesus will come like a thief in the night! Nobody knows the day nor the hour!" Paul said this about that:

             > "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." —1 Thessalonians 5:4


          Question: Precisely what is it about human nature (the sin nature) that makes it so destructive?

          Answer: It forces its victims to rationalize rather than to be rational. To rationalize is to reason subjectively. To be rational is to reason objectively.


          But aren't we "spiritual" creatures? Isn't it the Holy Spirit that is to lead us into all Truth? Aren't we told that we must worship God in spirit and in truth? At 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul told Timothy to study to show himself approved. Why do you think he didn't instruct Timothy to pray for increased knowledge and understanding and for God's approval? Wouldn't that have been more spiritual?


          It is false religion that thrives on hyperspiritualized mysticism. Although he is spirit, none of God's discernable characteristics are mystical. They'e purely intellectual and pragmatic. He is the original scientist, astronomer, physicist, mathematician, chemist, logistician, physician, sociologist and psychologist. His written word depicts him as logical, sensible, objective, pragmatic and reasonable. That message is consistent throughout the Bible. Spirituality and mysticism are clearly NOT mindsets that can lead believers to the knowledge of God.


          Meanwhile, sensible men acknowledge that God's logic, sensibility, objectivity and reasoning exist on a plane that we can admire but not attain in this life. The Old Testament records his perpetual attempt to teach men logic, sensibility, objectivity and RATIONAL thinking. His message, there, is consistent. It is reasonable. It is logical. It is simple. It is law. This is the essence of His Old Testament message:

          > "These are the boundaries for your behavior. Stay within them and you will enjoy my blessings and my protection. Step one foot outside those boundaries and you're 

             on your own."

             Does that sound even remotely spiritual to you?


          In what ways do God's New Testament messages differ? They don't. At Matthew 5:18, Jesus insisted that not even one jot nor tittle of Old Testament Law was to pass away with the dispensation of grace. Analyze the content of Jesus' Sermon On The Mount. Logical? Sensible? Objective? Reasonable? Is it mystical? Is it spiritual? Not. Dissect all the other recorded teaching and communicating events of Jesus: Are they predominantly mystical/spiritual or are they pragmatic? If you've been objective in your analysis, you have concluded that the essence of His message is practical and characterized by sound reasoning; not mysticism.


          Then, why did most of Jesus' hearers not "get it?" That would be the fault of human nature, too: Like streams of water after a rain, the sin nature defaults to the course of least resistance and the most comfort. The course of least resistance for mankind is subjective, feelings-based reasoning. Passive, it requires no work. Objective reasoning requires work.

          > "Yea, if thou criest out for knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; then shalt 

             thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. —Proverbs 2:3-5


          When you rely on your feelings for reasoning, you become susceptible to many "other spirits" that can cause you to feel almost like The Holy Spirit made you feel when He first drew you to repentance. Therein lie the wages of your human nature—Death. Wouldn't it be, thence, reasonable to conclude with a degree of certainty that thinking and "doing what comes naturally" is suicide?

          > "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" —1 Timothy 4:1

          > "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." —1 John 4:1

          > "Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Paul, at Philippians 2:5

          > "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your MIND…" —Paul, at Romans 12:2

          > "God's gift of a sound MIND is a terrible thing to waste." —T. C. Newsome

          > "Those Christians who're to discover truth will have adopted the MINDset of those Acts 17:11 Bereans." —T. C. Newsome


          Clearly, we are to join our hearts and MINDS together for the purpose of gaining original truth and then acting on it, to fulfill the mission that Jesus assigned to The Church. Most readers will be surprised to learn that the mission Jesus prescribed is SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT from the mission the visible church currently pursues. Follow this link to learn HOW that mission differs: http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/BLOG/0089.pdf


          Need more sound scriptural substance? Examine Jesus' post-wilderness-experience temptation: With each of his attempts to gain control of Jesus, Satan intelligently appealed, not to his intellect, but to his FEELINGS. With equal brilliance Jesus forced himself to ignore those feelings and to respond using only his MIND. How did he do that?

          A. He reminded himself (and Satan) that God's word is in writing.

          B. He reminded himself (and us) that it is in writing for a critical primary purpose—so that those who will resolve to cast off denominational dogma and to demand 

               original truth need never be betrayed by FEELINGS.

          C. He forced himself to rely totally on what is written. Jesus' feelings (i.e.: his spirit) bore witness of extreme weakness and hunger and thirst. But he responded 

               rationally"It is written…"

Satan enticed Jesus to be subjective. Jesus chose objectivity. Satan enticed Jesus to consider his feelings (i.e.: his broken spirit). Jesus chose to use his brain. Satan enticed Jesus to rationalize. Jesus chose to be rational. He chose to reason logically and to be practical, not "spiritual," in responding. Why did he do that? He had but one purpose: To establish a critical precedent for you and me.


          If, with tears flowing fancifully you sing, "To be like Jesus, To be like Jesus. That's all I want: to be like him," consider yourself now fully informed: Jesus never permitted his feelings to interfere with his thinking. Want to be like him? That's how. To be a Disciple one must become like Jesus. To become like Jesus, one must THINK like Jesus thinks. Now you know how Jesus thinks.

          > "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..."—Hosea 4:6


          One of my favorite quotes is this one from Vince Lombardi: "Gentlemen, this is a football." I have massaged it some, to yield this: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Bible. The critical parts of its message are plainly written. Unlike the U. S. Constitution, they need no expert 'interpreters.' If you are literate, learn to read God's written word objectively, as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means."

          > "The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." —Alvin Toffler, American futurist 

             (former associate editor of Fortune Magazine)


          It is by the drawing of The Spirit that a man comes into relationship with God. It is by the active (as opposed to passive) exercise of that man's intellect that he studies to show himself approved by God, a workman that doesn't need to be ashamed. If that same man were to submit passively to religious mysticism and "spirituality" he would be easily duped into error and damnation by a very real spirit that mimics the "feelings" he experienced at the time of his initial drawing by The Spirit. (You may want to read that long sentence again, more than once, to grasp its critical message.)


          To qualify as "sound," a doctrine must enjoy the clear support of a reasonable collection of objectively comprehended scriptures, each within its rationally perceived context. All else is either pure heresy, pagan mysticism or wishful dreaming.


          I hope to engage your mind and then your heart. God has given you the spirit of a sound mind, too, hasn't He? As you read and discover, please take several short breaks to do what those more-noble Bereans of Acts 17:11 did.


—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0100, 03/20/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "BOOMER Christians"

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          Boomer Christians are…well, different. "Don't trust anybody over thirty!" Remember it? That was our 1960s era call-to-action slogan. The media and the marketers both targeted our parents, today's senior citizens, then. Like many aging Boomers, I refuse to be a "senior citizen" or to join AARP (Did they or didn't they betray their members in 2010?) – or even a seniors group at church. We're Boomers, already. That's enough. Our slogan reflected our mindset of strong skepticism. It had as much to do with our generation's long term impact on society as most anything else...except maybe sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.


          Then we grew up. We bought Mustangs and motorcycles and such, first, though. Soon, we were over thirty. The marketers began targeting us with ads like, "This is not your father's Oldsmobile."(R) I was among the Boomers who didn't buy in. We bought 'Vettes and Z-cars and RX-7s and faster motorcycles and such, instead. My wife and I owned three of those RX-7s in succession. They hugged those Highway 64 mountain curves, you know. Had a ball. Those smokin' hot rotary engine cars doubled as family cars for us, too. Our son and daughter still reminisce about being stuffed into our hatchback trunks when they were small. Later, even I outgrew (literally) those fun cars.

Today we Boomers are either retired, soon-to-retired or at least thinking about it. Me? I was among the very first group of us to reach retirement age. I retired earlier than that, though. Some say it was only because I could. "Hey, this is my time to play!"


          My wife and I do play, but something started happening to me during the six months or so before I retired: There was this persistent recurring thought: "OK, smart guy; it's time for you to start really growing up." The rebellious Boomer in me retorted, "So define 'growing up' already!" Disclosure on how I resolved that internal conflict will evolve as you continue to read. First, though, here's what prompted it: I had been an Agnostic (i.e.: an Atheist-wannabe) for a dozen years during my early adult life. To make a short story a lot more interesting for you, I'll cut to the chase:


          Later, a typical boomer churchman, I pursued a secular career. Although I had to suppress my innate skepticism in order to enjoy Fortune 50 corporate career success, I never really lost it. Now, before you conclude that skepticism is a bad thing, read Acts 17:11. The Bereans of that scripture are called "more noble" because of how they cultivated and managed their intelligent skepticism. (By that very measure, might Thomas have been among the more noble of Jesus' disciples?)


          While listening to at least three sermons every week, I couldn't help but wonder whether the messages were credible. Had my preachers done their due diligence or were they just regurgitating our denomination's franchised "what 'we' believe" rhetoric? For decades I was a successful Bible teacher...large sanctuary classes, etc. The publishers of my Adult Teacher's Guides, had they done their homework, or were they just writing what they knew our denominational leaders would expect them to write?

"Life happens!" That was my excuse for not emulating the more-noble behavior of the Acts 17:11 Bereans during that time. I rationalized that, because I was a very busy corporate career professional and because I also cherished fun time with my family, I didn't have TIME to study the Bible sufficiently to learn what's true and what's denominational SPIN.


          My late father was an ordained minister. He served, alternately, as a pastor and as an evangelist. Soon after I had worked through my Agnostic struggles I was able to confront him about some of the doctrines and practices of our mainstream denomination. It doesn't matter which denomination: As you'll soon discover, they all spew their own respective "what 'we' believe" rhetoric. Yours, too. Would God really have left us His written instructions in a form that could be "interpreted" so many different ways by so many different career professional Christians and institutions? My dad admitted to me that most of what he had preached during my childhood years had come from other preachers. I recognized the names of some of them he had greatly admired.


          "But, Dad!" I asked, "Didn't you ever see the glaring discrepancies between those doctrines and practices and what is plainly written in the Bible?"

          "My trust has been in Man, son. And that is not a good thing."

          We embraced and wept together and I thanked him for his candor.


          Given that important discovery, I soon realized that I was not equipped to do any better! My entire church experience had taught me only WHAT to study in the Bible...to confirm "what 'we' believe." A craving burned hot within me, to learn HOW to study...to gain original truth. If I could just learn how to do that, then maybe I could help others learn how to do it, too. My existence might even gain some eternal value. Otherwise, I'd be just another flash in the pan, here for a while then gone forever, having invested my entire life in the vanity of accumulated "stuff."


          If you are a fellow Boomer, please accept my challenge to do whatever it takes to learn HOW to study God's written word as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means. Nothing matters but original truth. The "Life happens!" excuse will hold no water once you are retired. We are to be good stewards of our TIME, too, you know.

Jesus demonstrated that for us, brilliantly. With just three years to accomplish his assigned mission, he wasted no time at all. You may recall that he even refused to share important truth with people until after they had clearly gained "ears to hear." (Later in one of The UnSpun Gospel Series(SM) I'll share valuable insight into the "mechanics" and the psychology of some of the amazing techniques Jesus used, consistently, for helping people to gain ears to hear. A prime example of that is to be learned from his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.)


          As you invest more and more time in personal Bible Study – with your own handpicked small study group – you'll need some help. That's precisely why we have posted our Seven New Bible Study Tools on the "HOW TO STUDY" page. It will become more and more clear to you that the visible church has missed the mark of its high calling. The Church will arise from its ashes. Reciprocal accountability and compassion will characterize it. Instruction, correction and reproof will also be reciprocal. Will you be a part of that?


          It is our prayer that this platform for rational thinking we seek to facilitate will become an effective catalyst for bringing Christ's Body (i.e.: The Church) together. Want to connect with other Boomers in your area who've made up their minds to acquire the mind and the heart and the knowledge of Christ? Just shoot us an email that contains only the personal info YOU think may be important. When others in your area have done that, too, we'll be happy to facilitate your introduction and subsequent follow-thru: Scribe@DYPK.org.


          "Boomer Christians, unite!" Spread this good news to all the other Boomers you know. Let's make a meaningful difference in our world! We have a lot in common and much to accomplish—and our TIME is short. 11,000 more of us will reach retirement age every single day over the next 16 years. This is our chance to accomplish something really worthwhile. Are you in?

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0099, 03/13/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "INTOXICANTS & Christianity"

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          The battle rages on, but it's clearly senseless. There is a little-known scripture that should send the fighters back to their respective corners of the fight ring. What's with all the hoopla. anyhow? Since the days of the U.S. Prohibition fight, it was all about alcohol. But the issue has grown in complexity. Preachers and parishioners have become quite vocal about this highly controversial topic. The open discussions should be closed...and kept within our Christian ranks. This is why:

          > "...whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God." —Paul, at Romans 14:22 [NIV]

             Read that in several Bible versions. You may want to read the entire chapter. It speaks wisely about the consumption and the non-consumption of certain foods, too. 


          Paul insists that if a believer thinks it's a sin for him to eat red meat, to him, it is a sin. How should other believers respond? Those who're fully convinced that occasionally enjoying medium-rare filets of beef with one or two glasses of wine is not only okay, but scripturally defensible, should keep their rationale completely to themselves. Those believers who've lost loved ones to drunk drivers will have a really hard time doing that. But they must restrict the discussion to the evils of driving while intoxicated. But what about members of those families who've been traumatized by intoxicant-driven domestic violence? For them, the struggle for a scriptural response is considerably more difficult. There are at least four things on which they might productively focus their discussions:

          A. Getting professional help for the offenders.

          B. Getting professional help for the victims.

          C. Condemning the film industry and the news media who insist on glamorizing the use and abuse of intoxicants.

          D. Condemning clergymen and other Christians who aggressively insist that the scriptures prescribe nothing at all to support total abstinence.


          If you're among those who perceive absolutely no harm in the consumption of alcohol or another intoxicant you should consume it, always, in private...and keep the rationale for that mindset to yourself. Why? Non-private consumption can easily cause others to perceive a license. Some of those others, for example, will have a genetic propensity to alcoholism or addiction to another substance. The wise mindset is to let others work out their OWN salvation with fear and trembling:

          > "But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil 

              spoken of. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ [is] 

              acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy 

              not the work of God. All things indeed [are] pure; but [it is] evil for that man who eateth with offence. [It is] good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor [any thing] 

              whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have [it] to thyself before God. Happy [is] he that condemneth not himself in that 

              thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because [he eateth] not of faith: for whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin." —Paul, at Romans 14:15-23


          So, what should your clergyman preach about such things? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing.


—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0098, 03/06/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "OBJECTIVITY"

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Why are the Bereans of Acts 17:11 called "more noble?" What's the valuable take-home message?"


BLOG TEXT NOT AVAILABLE FOR THIS POST...Click HERE for the reader-friendly PDF version.


Blog #0097, 02/27/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "FALSE PROPHETS"

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          Jesus described two (2) groups of false prophets that Christians – and even those who sympathize with the Christian faith – must be aware of, if they're to safely endure the time of Anti-Christ and his legions: He described the first group as "wolves in sheep's clothing." They were active during New Testament times and they are with us, in abundance, today. Jesus characterized the second group as "wolves in shepherd's clothing." They're to appear later—a little known Bible fact. Like faithful and true prophets, "wolves in sheep's clothing" carry the "Jesus is Lord!" banner. Each "wolf in shepherd's clothing will proclaim himself to be Christ.

 

          This is what Jesus said about false prophets, a.k.a. wolves in SHEEP'S clothing. (The italicized-bracketed text, within all quotes in the series, is mine):

          >  "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." ―Matthew 7:15 (Context: Know them by their fruits.)

          >  "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, [that] I [Jesus] am Christ; and shall deceive

              many." —Matthew 24:4,5 (Context: When will Christ return?)

          >  "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any [man] deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I [Jesus] am [Christ]; and shall deceive

              many." —Mark 13:5,6 (Context: When will Christ return?)

          >  "And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I [Jesus] am [Christ]; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after

              them." —Luke 21:8 (Context: When will Christ return?)

 

          This is what Jesus said about the false Christs, a.k.a. wolves in SHEPHERD'S clothing. Their signs and wonders will be very real/genuine, so as to effectively deceive uninformed and misinformed Christian believers...and their clergy:

          >  "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there, believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and

               wonders; insomuch that, if it [were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. —Matthew 24:23,24 (Context: When will Christ return?)

          >  "And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here [is] Christ; or lo, [he] is there; believe [him] not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs

              and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect." —Mark 13:21,22 (Context: When will Christ return?)

 

          What is the reasonable likelihood that any maverick false prophet could deceive many, today? Is it all possible in your mind that those who've gained leadership positions with or, at least, are credentialed by today's mainstream Christian denominations are uniquely positioned to deceive many? If there were to emerge a strong maverick prophet – false or faithful and true – wouldn't today's mainstream religious establishment promptly crush him? Doing that would require substantial power. Someone recently defined the word "cult" as a religious group that has not gained political power. (By that new definition, neither Atheism nor Secular Humanism can be credibly given the "cult" label. Those groups, especially the Atheists, are behaving more and more like traditional organized religion.)

 

          Whether it observably wields it or not, how does today's visible church gain and maintain such power? This is what I think:

           (1)  They teach the uninformed faithful only what to study in God's word...to confirm "what 'we' believe." By contrast, faithful and true prophets seek to help the faithful

                  learn how to study the Bible...to discover the truth that can make a man free.

           (2)  They systematically reinforce the notion that laymen – the presumed subordinate class – must "come under the authority of" their institutions and appointed clergy.

                  Any layman who dares quote pertinent scriptures in rebuttal, is quickly labeled "insubordinate." Here's what Jesus said about that mindset:

                  >  "...Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among 

                      you:...whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." —Jesus, at Matthew 20:25-27

                  >  "...he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased..." —Jesus, at Matthew 23:11,12

                  >  "If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all." —Jesus, at Mark 9:35

                  >  "Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it

                      not be among you:...And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all." —Jesus, at Mark 10:42-44

           (3)  They build strong financial empires. To build and to maintain those empires they enslave their uninformed faithful, financially, by teaching them they should "give 'til 

                  it hurts" or "give sacrificially." Many local pastors have even taken to the clever con of some Christian TV superstars, who successfully teach their uninformed

                  viewers the concept of "seedtime and harvest"—scriptural, but laughably impertinent. They entice poor people to send in their hard-earned "seed faith" money, with

                  the promise of multiple-fold returns. Do they ignore the pertinent scriptures subconsciously or consciously?

                  >  Paul earned his living as a tentmaker. —Acts 18:3

                  >  "Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. —Paul, at Acts 20:34

                  >  "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit... —Paul, at 2 Corinthians 2:17

                  >  "...children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. —Paul, at 2 Corinthians 12:14 (See, also, verses 11-18.)

                  >  "For you...know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the 

                      contrary,

                      we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you...For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man

                      will not work, he shall not eat."...Such people [should] settle down and earn the bread they eat...If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter...Do not

                      associate with him..." —2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 [NIV] (Except where otherwise noted all scripture quotes throughout the series are from the KJV.)

                      —Paul was clearly referring, not the rank-and-file church people at Thessalonica, but to their preachers and teachers!

                    >  "For the love of money is the root of all evil...But thou, O man of God, flee these things…" —Paul, at 1 Timothy 6:10,11

                    >  "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind." —1 Peter 5:2

                        Hmmm... Might Paul have been suggesting that the establishment of a professional clergy would inevitably corrupt the visible church? Given Jesus' "The Great

                        Commission," at Matthew 28:19-20, is "the ministry" a legitimate professional career path?

 

          What strong maverick false prophet could possibly succeed in deceiving many in the face of such formidable opposition? What maverick faithful and true prophet could possibly succeed in bringing God 's original message of truth to many in the face of such formidable opposition? When mobsters "corner" a market, they stereotypically crush all vulnerable competition. That's how they stay in power. (For younger readers who may not know, a strong synonym for "maverick" is "lone wolf." Both terms refer to people who act alone—without the sanctions or credentials of any established organization or institution.)

 

          It is my respectful conclusion that this phenomenon, alone, explains how the following can be true:

          >  "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap unto themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they

              shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." —Paul, at 2 Timothy 4:3,4

 

          That time is now. Have you embraced your denomination's "what 'we' believe" platform? Have you learned WHAT to study in the Bible...to confirm "what 'we' believe?" That's how religious institutions effectively control the fearful and the uninformed. Will you break free to endure sound doctrine? If so, we will gladly help you learn HOW to study the Bible...to discover the truth that can make you eternally free. We'll even give you a collection of tools for doing that effectively. You may never have heard of some of those tools. Become a frequent visitor of the www.DYPK.org site to learn all you can about that.

 

          >  "There are two kinds of light—the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures." —James Thurber

          >  "The truth that makes men free is the truth that men don't want to hear." —unknown

 

          Given this collection of scriptural and observational evidence who do YOU now think are the "wolves in sheep's clothing" that Jesus warned us about? While pondering that, please remember that Jesus said those false prophets will succeed in deceiving MANY—even the elect, if that were possible.

 

          Reflect, too, on the question we started with: "What is the reasonable likelihood that any maverick false prophet could deceive many, today?" Consider what you've read here, of course. But then trace the logic for yourself. Study to connect the pertinent scriptural "dots" to confirm that two and two always add up to four. You may also confirm Grabel's Law: "Two is not equal to three, not even for large values of two."

 

          >  "God's gift of a sound mind is a terrible thing to waste." —T. C. Newsome

 

          Atheism and Secular Humanism are, in fact, religion; but can they deceive many?

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0096, 02/20/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "On the PREMISES"

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          Google(R) "pew potato" and you'll find some really interesting stuff. As an example there's a fascinating Foxworthy-styled "You might be a pew potato if…" piece. And there's a tongue-in-cheek "pew potato" hymn—"Sitting On The Premises," to the tune of "Standing On The Promises."

 

          Most of what you'll find, though, is quite serious. It's written by clergymen. Each of them is either promoting a method for transforming pew potatoes into "sweet potatoes" [my term] or searching for ways to do that. Best I can figure, their treasured sweet potatoes are pew potatoes, still, but involved in church programs and activities. Hmmm...

 

          Therein lies those clergymen's implied "pew potato" definition: "A believer who may or may not attend church regularly, who avoids involvement in church programs and activities." You may soon agree that definition falls far short of its potential.

 

          Bill and Blanche Fry [San Antonio, Texas] wrote, "Couch potatoes may be the kings and queens of the sofa, but some…reign as sovereigns of the pew. Couch potatoes may expend more energy with TV remote controls than pew potatoes do with Bibles or hymnals. The pew potato is a Christian who has become inactive or has retired because of what she perceives to be sufficient years of service." —http://www.churchofchristusa.com/Archives/old%20bulletin%20articles/Pew%20Potatoes.htm

 

          Is it the purpose of the church to get people "saved" and then to get them Involved? Or, might it be to get people involved and then get them "saved?" Which do you think?

 

          On second thought, neither my opinion nor yours may be appropriate, here. Perhaps we should consult God's written word for the answer. Is it the mission of the church to get people "saved?" Or, did Jesus prescribe a very different mission for us?

          >  "Therefore go and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey 

              everything I have commanded you… —Jesus, at Matthew 28:19,20 [NIV]

              "Believers" and "Disciples:" Are there differences? To learn the answer focus, first, on what Jesus did NOT tell us to do:

          >  "Go, therefore, and get people 'saved'."         

          >  "Go, therefore, and get people 'saved' and then get them involved in church attendance and active Christian fellowship, activities and programs."

          >  "Go, therefore, and get people involved in church attendance and active Christian fellowship, activities and programs and then get them 'saved'."

          >  "Go, therefore, and persuade people to believe in me so they can get 'saved'."

What he did tell us to do was to (a) Preach/Share the good news, (b) MAKE DISCIPLES of those who believe, (c) Baptize them and (d) Teach them…to obey His teachings. That's the mission of The Church. Take it to the bank.

 

          The visible church has done a respectable job of making BELIEVERS. Can't argue that. But, Believers are passive. They are non-productive, in the Matthew 28:19,20 sense. The visible church values Believers highly: Many of them give offerings. Some of them tithe. But are they Disciples? Are they even "Saved?"

 

          >  "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But

              thou, O man of God, flee these things..." —Paul, at 1 Timothy 6:10,11  (Not a warning to rank-and-file Believers, but to members of the professional clergy.)

 

          Disciples are active. They're fruitful. They make other Disciples. They OBEY the commandments of our Lord. (Whenever they don't, they promptly request forgiveness and repent.) They, alone, are The Church. Believers are…well, SPECTATORS; they keep the bleachers warm while others keep them entertained.

          >  "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. —Jesus, at Luke 14:3

Those are Jesus' words; not mine. Fact: It is not the mission of The Church to get people "saved." Sorry. That's the job of the Holy Spirit:

          >  "...And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." —Acts 2:47

 

          When the visible church beckons Believers and Participants, it promises them programs and activities and a perpetual series of fully choreographed dog-n-pony shows. The opening acts are often professional musicians and singers. The headliners are motivational speakers. Today, with the newest crop of mega-churches, there is the promise of a better life via Positive Thinking and Prosperity. When Jesus beckoned his disciples, he promised them NOTHING. Worthy of meditation?

 

          George Barna's research appears to yield a strong and clear snapshot of today's thinking Christians: They're leaving!* They're finding entertainment and meaningful social interaction elsewhere. Thank God, some of them are discovering grassroots networks of Disciples who're working to revive The Church…one that at least resembles what Jesus described at Matthew 28:19,20. Must all Christian thinkers eventually follow suit? [*See Revolution, and multiple other publications by George Barna and the Barna Group.]

 

          Perhaps you now perceive a more apt definition for the term, "pew potato." Consider this one:

          >  "'Pew Potato,' noun: 'a sincere, but passive Christian BELIEVER who is not and will probably never become a mature and fruitful Christian DISCIPLE'."

 

          Today's church leaders, with their programs and activities, are, themselves, responsible for the current bumper crop of pew potatoes. But are those programs and activities, alone, the culprits? The preaching and teaching of the visible church are also remarkably programmed for yielding Arrested Christian Development:

 

          No matter how strong their pulpit skills, preachers CANNOT make Disciples from the pulpit. That may be at least one of the reasons why so many Sunday morning sermons are characterized as "salvation" messages: Pew potatoes love to say (or think) "Amen!" when messages are directed to others. (The "Amen!" response, today, means "You tell'em, Brother!")

 

          Those clergymen who presume to "teach" Discipleship via pulpit sermons presume an impossible task. The fact is that Discipleship cannot be "taught;" it must be "coached." Only personal coaches can do that, one-on-one. Doubt that? Stand behind a podium and try "teaching" a group of children how to ride a bike.

 

          So, what is the value of pulpit sermons? Pew potatoes love motivational speeches that are creative and skillfully and sometimes humorously delivered. If a preacher can consistently keep them awake, they'll tell their friends, "You've just got to come and hear our wonderful preacher just once, at least!" and the church will grow. Include a pomposity of fully choreographed musical entertainment and, in many cases, FREE tickets to Heaven that can't be revoked, lost, given away or trashed to build a mega church...and accumulate lots of followers' dollars.

 

          Are size and growth legitimate measures of success for an institution whose clear mission is to make Disciples? What eternal value might there be in a church building packed full of blissful Pew Potatoes, even if most of them were of the sweet potato variety? Anticipate some fascinating additional insight in our "Must We AGREE?" article.


          >  "We started out in the right direction during those first few centuries: loving, serving, healing, restoring, forgiving, sharing, praying – every one either learning to be a

              disciple, being a disciple or training others to be disciples. But somewhere along the way, we turned into serious slackers, slugs even. We benched ourselves and

              appointed a 'chosen few' to do what Jesus and the Father called us all to do, and we sat down to watch. We opted for diso-bedience and convenience. Why did we do

              that? We, as the people of God, chose inertia over 'doing the stuff.' We ignored God's command to 'take dominion over the earth and subdue it'…for the pleasures of

              more mundane, less challenging 'kingdoms' and a permanent pew cushion. Folks, we've messed this job up big time…" —a "Reflections" post, at

              http://wordpress.com/2007/08/10/disciple-or-pew-potato

 

          Where scriptural challenges of a "what 'we' believe" franchise are discouraged, there can be no healthy forum for making Disciples. Such a church is programmed only to manufacture and maintain a congregation of naïve Believers, a.k.a. pew potatoes. Consciously or subconsciously, that's what the collective leadership of the visible church wants and that's what it gets. Will God be mocked?

 

          Meaningful DIALOG is critical to the making of Disciples. Lecturing has been shown to be of very little value for real learning of any sort. An effective Disciple-making forum is characterized by on-going, reciprocal correction, instruction and reproof.

          >  "All scripture…is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all

              good works." —2 Timothy 3:16,17

Note: The phrase, "man of God," here, includes non-clergy Disciples. Perhaps you've heard something different.

          >  "…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine... —2 Timothy 4:2-4

 

          So why is lecturing the "teaching" tool of choice? It is because, "That's how we do church, here!" Preferring to "teach" and "preach," today's church leaders continue to turn deaf ears to proven learning-based methods. (If you are a clergyman, anticipate three upcoming for-preachers-only articles: "Heads Up!," "I Was Once A Bible Teacher" and "The Problem With Small Groups—And How To Fix It." There, you will find some amazing tools and mindsets that can measurably enhance your effectiveness. Several clergymen have already lauded those articles – published in a different forum – as worthy for your continuing ministry education.

          >  "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." —Abraham Maslow

 

          Among the just under 11,000 Baby Boomers who'll reach retirement age every day for the next 17 years are a respectable number of capable and experienced thinkers. Thinking Boomers have sat quietly in church pews for decades, wondering whether their preachers have really done their homework. Skepticism and curiosity continue to gnaw at them, especially when they're in church. When they retire, many of them will make the time to do their own scriptural homework. It won't take them long to discover that their quiet doubting has been fully justified.

 

          They'll soon discover that all seminaries teach "what 'we' believe," that seminary graduates teach "what 'we' believe" and that the Believers who warm their pews believe "what 'we' believe." Those Boomers have not been naïve, but patient. As soon as their retirement tsunami gains critical mass, they're likely to spring some major surprises on the visible church. Clergymen beware:

          >  "Make full proof of thy ministry." —2 Timothy 4:5

 

          Spoken or unspoken, the primary objective of the visible church is to build and maintain congregations of BELIEVERS. To attract those Believers, they use various methods for making Christianity appear attractive. How attractive can that be to God? How attractive is it to you? How does it compare to the method Jesus used?

 

          Essentially, though, this article is for laymen. If you're a Christian layman, please examine your priorities: Will you be a perpetual spectator who keeps the bleacher seats warm or an active participant on-the-playing-field, with the mission JESUS prescribed for The Church?

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0095, 02/13/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "AWOL?"

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          If you have left the traditional church or are even thinking about doing that, there are a few things you may miss. Among those things may be the familiar religious rhetoric that will resound in church buildings everywhere on Sunday morning: "It is good to be in the house of the Lord!" or "Welcome to the house of God!" or the dignified "Beloved, let us reverence our Lord's house." Ask any offender to cite a supporting scripture and he'll often say, "It's the first verse of Psalm 122." The problem with that is it's an Old Testament scripture, written during a time when God DID dwell in man-made structures. Shouldn't professional Christians know that? I really don't think they do it maliciously. It's just the monkey-hear-monkey-say syndrome, you know.

 

          For the record, God dwells not in buildings, today, but in the hearts of people who love Him and do their best to follow Jesus' example for mission-driven living. If that includes you, then you are the house of God and, when together in His name, we are God's house. No church building can compete. Take that to the bank:

          >  "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that]^ the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?...for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." —Paul, at 1 Corinthians

              3:16,17

          >  "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost…[which is] in you?" ——Paul, at 1 Corinthians 6:19

          >  "For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."—Paul,

              at 2 Corinthians 5:1

          >  "…for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in [them], and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." —Paul, at 2

              Corinthians 6:16

          >  "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner[stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together

              groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." —Paul, at Ephesians 2:20-22

On the subconscious level, at least, might repeatedly referring to a given building as "God's house" have anything at all to do with the ability to get followers' dollars for aggressive building funds?

 

          Speaking of luxurious church campuses, what did Jesus proclaim to be the mission of the church? Is it to get people "saved?" Is it to get people involved in socially gratifying fellowship? Is it to entertain them? Is it to work miracles? Instead, "The Great Commission" (per Jesus, at Matthew 28:19,20) is all about making DISCIPLES. Here's the essence of it:

          1.  Preach.

          2.  MAKE DISCIPLES of those who Believe.

          3.  Teach/Encourage each new Disciple to do the same.

Then, what possible role might a multi-million-dollar church campus play in the fulfillment of that mission? Further, are any of today's visible churches observably making DISCIPLES or do they only make BELIEVERS? Big difference. Even devils "Believe." (James 2:17-26) So who, today, is making disciples? Can that be done from a pulpit? That'd be sort of like trying to "teach" young children how to ride bikes; wouldn’t it? No one can "teach" a child how to ride a bike; that’s a COACHING assignment. But where are the coaches?

 

          And Paul's proclamation at 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, (If a man won't work, he shouldn't eat.)—doesn't the context of it suggest that Paul was talking about preachers and teachers? If not, then why do YOU think he prefaced it by reminding the church people at Thessalonica that he had earned his own living [as a tentmaker] while among them…eating his own bread, so as not to be a burden to them? In Paul's writings to other churches, his message was remarkably consistent, as confirmed by the scriptural examples below. Little or no commentary is needed, but please respond with the mindset of those Acts 17:11 Bereans and do your own personal due diligence before drawing any conclusions:

          >  Paul was a tentmaker. —Acts 18:3                                             

          >  "Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me." — Paul, at Acts 20:34

          >  "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit..." — Paul, at 2 Corinthians 2:17

          >  "I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the super-apostles, [Today, that'd be

              "super preachers."]^ even though I am nothing ...How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! [an

              apparent sarcasm] Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all,

              children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I

              love you more will you love me less? Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! Did I exploit you by any of the

              men I sent you? I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same

              course?" —Paul, at 2 Corinthians 12:11,13-18 [NIV]

          >  Paul ate his own bread. —2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

          >  "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But

               [thou], O man of God, flee these things..." —Paul, at 1 Timothy 6:10,11

          >  "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre [i.e.: money...or even "a living?"] but of a

              ready mind." —1 Peter 5:2

          >  "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" —Paul, at Galatians 4:16


          Have you ever heard a pulpit sermon that included those scriptures? Nor have I.

          >  "Saint Peter don 't you call me  'cause I can't go; I owe my soul to the company store." —from Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons," on the charts-topping "Classic

              Country" album, 1950-64         

 

          All that aside, we become "The Church" (a.k.a.: Christ's Body) only when we are assembled together, at least in small groups. Synergy can emerge. Eventually, that can become Holy Spirit synergy. Mutual benefits: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." —Jesus, at Matthew 18:20

 

          Does that mean we must meet in church buildings? No, but we are to join our hearts and minds together for the purpose of gaining original truth and then acting on it, together, to fulfill the mission that Jesus assigned to The Church.

 

          The visible church has clearly missed the mark of its high calling. Observably, the gates of Hell have easily prevailed against it. The Church will arise from its ashes. Reciprocal accountability and compassion will characterize it. Abandoning the traditional church, or even thinking about that, is no reason to become a dropout from The Church. Today's errant preachers? Few of them are consciously aware of it. Many of them pursue their profession with zeal and sincerity.

          >  "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." —Romans 10:2

Some of them will opt in, later. Will you be there for them?

 

          Now, instead of going AWOL, let's join forces with The Church as it begins its rise from the ashes of the visible church. Okay? To begin learning HOW to do that, visit www.DYPK.org an then click on the "HOW TO STUDY" tab.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

^Note 1

   All non-italicized-bracketed scripture quotes in the series is directly from the KJV, where it indicates that the "translated" words/phrases do NOT appear in any original manuscript. In some versions of

   the KJV, italics are used instead of brackets, for the same purpose...a little-known fact. Here's a good example of that: "He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself." —Paul, at

   1 Corinthian 14:4 (There are no scriptural "unknown" tongues or even the equivalent of the English-language, "'unknown', tongues" in any original Greek manuscript.)

^Note 2

   All emphasis within quotations of scripture throughout The UnSpun Gospel(SM) series is mine. That includes capitalization, the bolding of quoted text and the insertion of italicized-bracketed text, as

   above. Also, all scripture is from the KJV, except where noted otherwise, also as above.


Blog #0094, 02/06/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "Must We AGREE?"

                      Click HERE for the reader-friendly PDF version of this blog post.

 

          "We've never had a cross word between us in sixty years of marriage." Ever heard anything like that? Did you believe it? Did you wonder silently,  "Well, bless your old hearts, then how do you communicate?" In Christian fellowship, as in marriage, occasional disagreement is a very normal (and important) part of healthy interaction. If a relationship is to grow, occasional disagreement will be necessary. I know, that doesn't sound especially religious, but read on for the Scriptural rationale...

 

          So how should we respond when we find ourselves in disagreement with a fellow Christian concerning a matter as important as interpretation of Scripture? The

key to productive management of our inevitable disagreements may be to understand that it is not necessary that we agree on the interpretation of every scripture to enjoy mutually productive Christian labor and fellowship.

 

Confrontation Phobia—                                                                              

 

          Christians stereotypically avoid confrontation like the plague, but we (especially we who presume to feed Christ's lambs) are not permitted that luxury:

          >  "Sound doctrine can reside only with those Christian leaders who will choose to endure regular and reciprocal confrontation and challenge. Iron sharpens iron, you

              know (Proverbs 27:17). In governmental environments those are called checks and balances." —T. C. Newsome

 

          We must accept, by faith, only that Jesus is God, born of the virgin Mary, that he arose from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father, ever making intercession for us, etc. No amount of  "interpreting" can change that. No one else's opinion about it can change it. For most everything else in God's written word, though, we must join together and study to learn HOW to rightly divide the scriptures and show ourselves approved as workmen who have no need for shame. The skin thickens, with time. [See Matthew 15:12-14, 23:13-15 and. Luke 6:39.]  Set before every presumed feeder of Christ's lambs, today, are blessings and a curses. [See Deuteronomy 11:26 and 27:18. For laymen, there is Jeremiah 17:5-8.]

 

          If you are not a preacher it would be easy for you to think I intend the above for preachers. Actually, though, it is for you: In someone's eyes, you are a role model/leader. We laymen can no longer languish in the luxury and comfort of the pew and permit our preachers to do our critical thinking and growing for us; they won't. We must get onto the playing field ourselves. Spectators stay dry and clean...and in the bleachers.  Players get sweaty and dirty. Players practice, practice, practice—hoping for a chance to get off the bench to play against a real opponent. Practicing is characterized as managed confrontation with other players on the same team. Once off the bench, they are more likely to have gained sufficient competence and confidence to perform effectively in confrontations against well-rehearsed enemy teams:

          >  "…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not

              against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

              Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." —Paul, at Ephesians 6:10-13

 

          Paul instructed the non-preacher believers at Ephesus and Thessalonica to put on the whole armor of God. This is the essence of his message to the believers in those two churches:

          Put on...

          a.Œ  the Belt of Truth

          b.  the Breastplate of Righteousness

          Žc.  the Shoes of PRACTICE unto Readiness

          d.  the Shield of Faith

          e.  the Helmet of The Hope of Salvation —1 Thessalonians 5:8

           ‘f.  the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God

           g.’ the Wisdom of Alertness

 

That prompts some really important questions. Here are three of them:

          1.  Recall the story of David and Goliath? David refused King Saul's battle armor because it was heavy...and really awkward, too. That was because David hadn't

               practiced fighting while wearing it, as had Saul. Battle armor (even God's whole armor) would be too awkward and heavy for anyone who hadn't, first, become

               intimately familiar and comfortable with its collective weight and feel in PRACTICE.

          2.  How effective might one be in real conflict if one's SHOES of PRACTICE Unto Readiness were clean, having never been worn in rigorous Practice? Have you ever

               worn shoes that hadn't been broken-in?

          3.  How effective might one be with a SWORD if one has never used it in regular and strenuous combat Practice exercises? How might one even effectively practice with

               it if one's knowledge of it is both passive and limited to what someone else has told one about it?

 

          Unfortunately, it is not  "practice" that makes perfect. Only "perfect practice" makes perfect. Roleplays in your church's "what 'we' believe" seminars and workshops are justly characterized as imperfect practice. For perfect practice you will want to align with a few other believers who will resolve to separate denominational dogma from original truth. Then and only then can you enjoy "perfect practice." Your Shoes of Practice Unto Readiness will get broken-in and really dirty, too – with regular exercises of managed conflict. within your very special group. You will each grow in skill, spiritual muscle for bearing the weight of God's combat armor and in stamina—for enduring to the end.

 

          If you've put on Christ's yoke, you must push against it, too. Without teamwork there is no work. Not only must we each be receptive to reciprocal instruction, correction and reproof (even occasional rebuke), but  we must actively cultivate such environments and relationships. Otherwise we can gain no skill. Without skill there can be no perfect practice. Without perfect practice there can be no readiness. Without readiness soldiers in the army of the Lord grow lethargic and weak: The weight of God's armor causes weak soldiers to collapse even before any real combat begins. Even if those soldiers make it into combat, if their armor still feels awkward from lack of perfect Practice, they'll be quickly and easily defeated. It's easy to sing about being in the army of the Lord, but who will practice to learn how to fight effectively in the ranks of the real army of the Lord? You?

 

          >  "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." —Jesus, at Luke 14:33

 

          We soldiers in God's army cannot afford to avoid conflict like the plague. If, like the proverbial old couple that claims to have never argued, we were to always avoid confrontation, none of us would be able to fulfill the mission of the church. Now, you may currently think that the assignment Jesus gave to the church was to get as many people "saved" as possible. That mindset is enormously popular, I know, but it couldn't be further from the truth. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19,20 is about making DISCIPLES:

           (1)  Preach.

           (2)  Make Disciples of those who Believe.

           (3)  Teach/Encourage each new Disciple to do the same.

 

          There are BIG differences between Believers and Disciples. Believers can't fulfill The Great Commission. Disciples can. The visible church has made millions of Believers, but who's making Disciples? Can that be done from a pulpit? No one can "teach" a young child how to ride a bike. Kids learn how to ride bikes from patient COACHES. Shepherds can't produce sheep. Sheep produce sheep. Nobody can "make Disciples" from a pulpit. The making of Disciples is a "coaching" assignment to us all. Disciples are made one-at-a-time, by other Disciples, and that takes time. But where are the Coaches? You? If not, then you may want to gather a group of friends for regular Discipleship PRACTICE. Sound like a formidable assignment? There's help: Visit www.DYPK.org and then click on the "HOW TO STUDY" tab. Share that info with a few of your friends as a preface to organizing for regular Discipleship skills practice. I did that. It worked. Still working!

 

          It is unfortunate, at least, that most churchgoers think they're Disciples because they Believe and are faithful in church attendance. Their pastors typically think they're fulfilling The Great Commission because they've filled their pews with Believers. But even devils believe (James 2:17-26). To become a Disciple a Believer must fulfill "The Great Commission." That means to become a Student of, an Adherent to and a Teacher of the doctrines of Christ.

 

          Instruction, correction, reproof and occasional rebuke in The Church are reciprocal. Instruction, correction, reproof and occasional rebuke in the visible church are, observably, the exclusive domain of the clergy. In The Church, participants are actively involved in the process; not passively. The playing field is level. Each participant, aspiring to gain more knowledge and understanding and greater spiritual maturity recognizes and respects those others who may have advanced further than himself in the acquisition of either of those things. Their reciprocal interaction enables each one to…be thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:17) and to…make full proof of…his…ministry (2 Timothy 4:5).

 

          Preachers, please pay close attention: Neither can you advance in any of those critical disciplines unless you also submit yourself to reciprocal instruction, correction and reproof. Restricting that kind of collaborative interaction to your professional peer group and to organizationally superior clerics will stunt your growth…and theirs. That may sound like an unreasonable requisite for membership in The Church, I know. It will, in fact, be an impossible task for you…unless you will come to understand, first, that we laymen are not your subordinates. Many of us would readily interact with you as peers, to our mutual benefit, if you would be proactive in cultivating the collaborative environments and the relationships that encourage it. Or, you can choose to leave the driving to us

 

          Yes, there are some core doctrines and principles and some critical truths on which we must agree in order to enjoy effective Christian labor and fellowship. Beyond those, though, I personally hope the Bible Explorers Club, LLC, will never develop a "what 'we' believe" mindset. Why? Because my beliefs need to be challenged regularly. Yours do, too. Collectively, our spiritual growth would otherwise be stunted and we would become like the visible church—masters of marionettes.

 

          "Must we agree?" We must not always agree—but there are qualifiers.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0093, 01/30/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "FAITH EQUITY(SM)"

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          "Jesus is Lord!" Righteous people proclaim that. Unfortunately, though, today's deceivers proclaim it, too! How else might they deceive so many sincere Christians? If you trust your denomination for truth, you must know that most (Some think all.) religious institutions have interpreted critical portions of God's word incorrectly. Otherwise, would they not agree? God says he isn't the author of the confusion, so who'd that be? And for what purpose?

 

          Think you cannot be deceived? Even the elect wouldn't be saved if "that time" were not to be shortened; remember? Given that, might you be deceived? No one can deceive you without your permission, though. How does one grant that permission? Passively, by investing one's Faith Equity(SM) in any other human. No matter how spiritual or charismatic or compassionate or competent or pious or religious they may appear to be, human beings are not to be trusted for truth. Doubt that? God, himself, declared it:

          >  "Thus sayeth the Lord; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man…" —Jeremiah 17:5

 

          "But I pray every day that the Holy Spirit will lead me into all truth and keep me from being deceived." While praying for truth sounds really spiritual and feels good, it is also in direct conflict with what God's written word says each Believer must do: Until the 20th Century, literacy was the exception. It is the norm today. Because you are literate you are required to study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that doesn't need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the written word of truth. Remember that? It's at 2 Timothy 2:15.

 

          Some of the people who read this series will continue to "pray and have faith"...that their preachers will lead them to truth. With itching ears, instead of studying to discover truth, they will heap unto themselves teachers; a.k.a. preachers. Not willing to endure SOUND doctrine, they will turn away from truth and be turned to fables. Fables are among the most observable characteristics of POPULAR doctrines.

          >  "...the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap unto themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall

              turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." —Paul, at 2 Timothy 4:3,4

 

          To qualify as "sound" a doctrine must enjoy the clear support of a reasonable collection of objectively comprehended scriptures, each within its rationally perceived context. All else is either heresy or mysticism. Fables sound good. Fables feel good. Fables often sound and feel more religious than truth. To be saved one must acquire a love of truth. Instead, believers typically acquire a love for their preachers…and for the warm fuzzies [See http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/BLOG/0063.pdf]. God, himself, will send them strong delusion to help them believe a lie. The believers who won't study to discover Truth will be damned. "That doesn't sound right: A loving God wouldn't do that!"

          >  "…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they might believe a lie: that

              they might all be damned who believed not the truth..." —Paul, at 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

          >  "IF ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples...and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free..." —Jesus, at John 8:31

 

          "But I just feel in my spirit that 'what we believe' is true!" Seminaries of every denomination teach "what 'we' believe." Seminary graduates preach "what 'we' believe." Those who warm their pews believe "what 'we' believe." Every denomination owns a different "what 'we' believe" franchise. And, besides, those who rely on feelings for confirmation of truth are deceived already. If they persist in that God will continue to strengthen their delusions. Take it to the bank.

 

          A pastor recently exclaimed, "You will never convince me to discount all the things the Holy Spirit has revealed to me to be true." That was near the end of a marathon of email exchanges, during which he was unable to cite even one sensibly interpreted scripture to support any of those things that had been "revealed" to him. During that exchange, I had cited volumes of objectively divided, clearly pertinent scriptures that are, jointly and severally, a clear indictment of those "revealed" things. Still, he sincerely believes those revelations to him have been by the Holy Spirit and not by one of many "other" spirits that seduce naïve people. [See 1 Timothy 4:1 and 1 John 4:1.]

 

          Beloved by his parishioners, that pastor is a compassionate man. I think that some of those who follow his lead would give him their last dime. A few of them may even give their lives for him. My compassion for them grew as my email dialog with their beloved pastor gained momentum. I know that pastor personally. I am also acquainted with several of his flock. He is, in fact, a good-hearted man. His very large mainstream denomination has certified his ministry: he is ordained. Unfortunately, though, "compassionate" and "good-hearted" and "ordained" do not necessarily equate to "fully competent" or even reasonably "informed."

 

          When a presumed feeder of Christ's lambs consistently exhibits more faith in mysticism, fables, old wives' tales and "what 'we' believe" than in the clearly written words of God, how safe are Christ's lambs that faithfully follow his lead? Christian flocks everywhere are observably much like that pastor's flock, in that they have invested almost all of their Faith Equity(SM) in their preachers. Those who have learned that "human nature is the sin nature" know why preachers' egos grow in direct proportion to the numbers of Christ's lambs who trust them completely. The caveat? It is this: When those lambs inevitably learn that their loss is enormously greater than the losses of any of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme victims, who will they blame? If, hypothetically, you were to be required to trade places either with one of those lambs or with one of their preachers on Judgment Day, which would you choose?

 

          If you trust your preacher for truth, please know that the overwhelming majority of clergymen can be shown not to have completed their basic due diligence—even the seminary graduates. If you were Lucifer and as smart as we know him to be, who would you choose to carry out the massive end-times deception Jesus warned us about?

 

          Given an abundance of such readily observable evidence, it becomes very clear that the deceivers Jesus warned us about are members of the Christian clergy (even large numbers of them that are sincere but demonstrably misinformed) along with the institutions to whom they have pledged their allegiance. Unfair?  This is not intended as an indictment but as a wake-up call. If you are a preacher, please heed the call. Our time is short. If you will keep reading you will discover invaluable help...and eternal rewards. Promise.

 

          >  "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" —Paul, at Galatians 4:16

 

          The essence of something I saw in Reader's Digest(R) several years ago is forever imprinted in my memory. This is how I remember it: "Pessimists complain when the wind blows. Optimists anticipate the inevitable calm. Realists change the set of their sails." Also indelibly fixed and resurfacing regularly in my mind are these clearly pertinent words of caution:

          >  "Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in

              that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess

              unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity." —Jesus, at Matthew 7: 21-23

              A warning to other preachers and other denominations...?

 

          Again, imagine yourself Lucifer: Who would be your easiest prey? Who but those who are already deceived? Who are they? All those who have gained comfort in believing "what 'we' believe" will be among them. If I were Lucifer, and as smart as we know him to be, I'd capture the minds and hearts of clergymen, first. Why? For one thing, their parishioners have observably invested almost all of their Faith Equity(SM) in them. Arguably, most parishioners follow their preachers blindly.

 

          Yes, objectivity is rare in the human experience. Evidence of that is abundant, especially within the contexts of religion and politics. It is evidenced in the 2 Timothy 2:3,4-styled "heaping unto themselves teachers." It is evidenced in the rise of superstar preachers, some of whom have fallen. Might the rest of them be kept from falling for the specific purpose of leading the uninformed and misinformed faithful into Lucifer's synagogues?

 

          In the 1950's and 1960's, there were the divine healing superstars. From them came the prosperity and "seed faith" superstars of the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's. The 21st Century heralds the meteoric rise and popularity of end-time prophecy superstars. Itching ears. popular doctrines. sugar-coating the plan of salvation...to build large churches. The attractive "packaging" of Christianity. Hyper-spiritualizing the Gospel. Financial empires.

          >  Christianity started as a fellowship. At Greece it became a philosophy. The Italians made it into an institution. In Europe it was to become a culture. Worldwide, today,

              it's an enterprise. —from a Dr. David Ryser quote

 

          Informed laymen are beginning to ask, "Why would any member of today's clergy align himself with objectively comprehended original truth when in doing so he would risk losing his employment and income security?" Upton Sinclair once expressed that phenomenon like this: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."

          >  "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But

              thou, O man of God, flee these things..." —Paul, at 1 Timothy 6:10,11

Not a warning to rank-and-file Believers, but to members of the professional clergy.

 

          >  "Those who are willing to challenge the logic – and even the credibility – of our conclusions from time-to-time are of uncommon value. Without them, how might we

              ever hope to gain original truth? Those who search for truth in a vacuum search in vain. Those who hope to gain truth passively, and in environments that discourage

              reciprocal challenge and scrutiny, cannot succeed." —T. C. Newsome

 

          Preachers, we informed laymen are concerned. Some of us are interceding for you in prayer...that you will begin to confront the dictates of human nature (the sin nature) and "make full proof of thy ministry." —Paul, at 2 Timothy 4:5

 

          Preacher or parishioner, why not wisely re-invest your Faith Equity(SM) where Jesus is invested, as he so brilliantly demonstrated for us in his post-wilderness-temptation experience? —"It is written..."

 

          >  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God." —John 1:1

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0092, 01/23/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "SEALED?"

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          Early on Sunday morning, November 2nd, my wife and I watched an enormously popular Atlanta pastor on TV. His sermon was about the eternal value of adopting "kindness" as a mindset and a lifestyle. Good sermon, but something grabbed my attention...his comment about a scripture he had quoted:

          >  "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." —Paul, at Ephesians 4:30

He continued with verses 31 and 32:                                                       

          >  "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted,

              forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

 

          It was his follow-up commentary on verse 30, though, that set off the sirens in my head. It went something like this: "If you are unkind or if you allow corrupt communication to proceed out of your mouth [v. 29] you will grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you are forever sealed." Except that I'm doing my homework (studying to show myself approved unto God, a workman that doesn't need to be ashamed) that pastor's "forever sealed" phrase would not have gotten my attention.

 

          I recalled the extensive scholarly research and analysis of the Salvation scriptures by our Link1(TM) Bible Research Team. If you are a teacher of or a believer in the gospel according to John Calvin, and also sincere in your desire to know the truth, I think you'll want to study that document: http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/4031347. (If clicking on that link doesn't work, just copy-n-paste it into your web browser window.)

 

          There are three (3) New Testament Greek words that the KJV translators rendered "seal," "seals" or "sealed." Just ONE of them is defined by Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible as...

          1.  to cover with a seal

          2.  to close up

          3.  close with a seal.

          That Greek word, katasphragizō, is Strong’s G-2696. It appears just ONCE in the original New Testament text, at Revelation 5:1. The Greek word that the KJV scholars translated, "sealed," at Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:3-14 is G-4972, sphragizō, is a verb. Strong's defines it simply as "to mark with a seal." Strong's defines a closely related Greek word for "sealed" (G-4973, sphragis, a noun) like this:

          1.  the seal placed upon books

          2.  a signet ring

          3.   the inscription or impression made by a seal

          4.  the name of God and Christ stamped upon the foreheads of the elect...[for identification only] – as at Rev. 7:2,3

          5.  that by which anything is confirmed, proved, authenticated, as by a seal: a token or proof.

 

          When a person accepts Christ as Lord and Master of his life (and his lifestyle) he receives a SEAL OF IDENTIFICATION with Christ. Is that person, then, "saved" for all eternity? To learn the answer to that question, revisit Ephesians 4:30:

          >  "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed [i.e.: 'identified'] unto the day of redemption [i.e.: the day of 'salvation']."

The day of redemption, a.k.a. the day of "salvation," is the day when all people will face the judgment seat of Christ. No one will be declared "saved" or "not saved" until then. I know that's a hard pill to swallow. It was really hard for me, too: I grew up singing, "I'm Saved and I Know That I Am!"—even in children's church.

          >  "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things DONE in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or

              bad." —Paul, at 2 Corinthians 5:10

If you're wondering about those people (righteous and unrighteous) who will have already experienced death when that time comes, that's when they'll be judged, too.

 

          >  "...for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed." —Paul, at Romans 13:11

          >  "...for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee…" —Paul, at 1 Timothy 4:16

              You've heard that young Timothy was already "saved?"

 

          Hence, the identifying "seal" for those who are to uphold their ongoing commitment to actually FOLLOW Christ is the Holy Spirit. That "seal" [i.e.: that mark of identification with Christ and Christ-likeness] is our down payment or token or first installment [KJV: "earnest"] on that promised future inheritance of "salvation." It is NOT a binding seal of "closure." If it were, then the Greek word from which it was translated would have been katasphragizō, Strong’s G-2696.

 

          >  "Discernment is telling the difference between right and almost right!" —C. H. Spurgeon

 

          Follow this link to some truly fascinating – and scripturally sound – insight into the eternal importance of choosing a LIFESTYLE of righteousness: http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/BLOG/0086.pdf.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0091, 01/16/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "Doubting THOMAS?"

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          Are you a doubting Thomas? If not, have you ever been accused of it? If you are or have ever been a churchgoer, have you ever heard something or observed something in church that didn't sound or feel quite right? If so, have you kept those thoughts and feelings to yourself? Have you also felt guilty about entertaining those thoughts and feelings? If you have, then we have something in common. That something may well be our mutual key to learning what's true and what's new. God's Written Word is Truth. Original Truth, alone, matters. That, as you are to soon learn or confirm, is not reasonably debatable.

 

          For decades before my 2006 retirement from a secular career, I was also an adult Bible teacher. By the measure that is currently acceptable within familiar Christian circles I was a very successful Bible teacher—large Sunday morning sanctuary classes. As with other Bible teachers and preachers, my primary study curriculum was prescribed, printed and distributed by our denomination.

 

          The denominational literature always directed me to the Bible passages that would yield competence to deliver each prescribed message. I was faithful to study those passages diligently and prayerfully in preparation for each Sunday morning lecture. I became an effective spokesman for our denomination's "what 'we' believe" franchise. (Every denomination has one of those.) Fully literate and reasonably intelligent, I never learned the pleasure of limiting my study to God's written word…until later. Frankly, I wouldn't have known HOW to do that. After all, our denominational leaders had done and were doing that for me, weren't they? Who was I, a mere layman, to question the superior knowledge and insight of God's anointed ones, the professional clergy?

 

          Annually, our churches praise those who've read the entire Bible, cover to cover. To understand the folly of that practice, ask any of the honorees to explain what they learned from their 12-month experience. You may already know that "reading" and "studying" aren't even first cousins. But are you and I any better, by comparison? I say no. There are several important reasons for it that I dare not mention at this early point in our learning relationship. But you can discover each of those reasons for yourself by becoming a regular visitor of our www.DYPK.org site. For now, though, I'll share three of the more obvious reasons why I think you and I are probably not much better off than those who dutifully read the entire Bible through each year:

          I.   "Life happens." Arguably, it is almost impossible to find or even make TIME for a serious and reasonably productive study of God's Written Word while working a job,

               pursuing a career or even being a stay-at-home parent. There is no reason to feel guilty about that; it's just the way things are. We should agree on a definition of "a

               serious and reasonably productive study of God's Written Word," though. Here's my working definition:

               A.  A fully organized, on-going series of topic-specific personal Bible research projects that include comparisons of multiple English translations of the Bible [Note:

                    Several of the Bible "translations" are just paraphrases (i.e.: commentaries), instead, and several other "translations" are of questionable Greek and/or Hebrew

                    manuscripts.]

               B.  Enhanced by regular reference to Abbingdon's Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (for the original meanings of ancient Hebrew and Greek words and

                     phrases) and one or two of the "Interlinear" Hebrew/Greek-to-English literal translations

               C.  Further enhanced by the intermittent study of World History and Church History. I am continually delighted to discover that the two are inseparable! Together,

                     they’re "His Story." Follow this link to our 1-page chart, "Modern HisStory:" http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/documents/Appendix%2011.pdf

               D.  Reading, studying and analyzing each scripture, always, as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means.

          II.  For reasons you are to soon comprehend, our churches do not teach us HOW to study God's word. What they teach us is WHAT to study. The diligent faithful become

               fully versed in "what 'we' believe."

          III. Consistently, our preachers work to gain and maintain our trust. For the most part, though that trust is misplaced. See Jeremiah 17:5 to confirm that.

               A.  Prior to the 20th Century, literacy was the exception. Parishioners had no choice but to trust their preachers to dispense truth. Amazingly, the literate continue to

                    trust their professional clergymen for truth.

               B.  Based on the strong warning at Jeremiah 17:5, should you trust any member of the Bible Explorers Club, LLC, for truth? No! Our primary objective is to expose the

                     stark contrasts in Bible truth and the fables that have cunningly infiltrated the mainstream of Christian teaching. We pray that, when you comprehend each of

                     those contrasts, you will use YOUR OWN MIND to begin the long, but rewarding, process of discovering what's true and what's new. Here are two T. C. Newsome

                     quotes that we hope you will find worth remembering:

                  >  "Much of what masquerades, today, as 'old time religion' is actually quite new."

                  >  "God's gift of a sound mind is a terrible thing to waste."

 

          I'm convinced that God would not have left us His Written Word in a form that could be "interpreted" in so many different ways by so many different people and organizations. Yet, each denomination claims a monopoly on truth.

 

          >  "All of us approach truth with our fists tightly clinched to our haggard bag of things we want to be true, desperately hope are true and notions we're hell bent on

              pretending are true, regardless of what evidence and authority say otherwise. This reality is as true for middle-aged white men with bad suits and obvious

              comb-overs as it is for tattooed hipster Christians who are heavier on cynicism than orthodoxy." —Pastor Rick Henderson, 03/26/2014

 

          >  "Millions of believers study to confirm Doctrines. Few study to gain Truth. Per Matthew 7:13,14, God clearly prefers the few." —T. C. Newsome

 

          Once at the www.DYPK.org site, click on the "How To Study" tab to begin learning HOW to embark on your own productive study of God's written word to gain Truth—as opposed to studying to confirm Doctrine. You will discover that it is much easier to do that than you may think. You may even want to encourage a few close friends and/or family members to study with you. I assembled a small group of people like that even before I retired. Multi-denominational, we quickly learned that we had each been studying to confirm "what 'we' believe." Why? Because that's what our preachers had taught us to do. The more you study for Truth, the more you will learn about how and why your preachers have done that. 'Maliciously? No; they're victims, too. The visible church has missed the mark of its high calling. The Church will arise from its ashes. Will you rise up with it?

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0090, 01/09/2015; Key Word/Phrase: "CHARITY & Constantine"

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          Globally, Americans are said to be the most charitable folk on Earth. Especially during holiday seasons, many of us incline our thoughts to giving. Glorious feelings of warmth reward us when we give. Many are the non-profit organizations that benefit from our generosity. Some of them are truly charitable but many more of them are not. On Facebook during the 2014 holiday season, there was a widely circulated meme that purported to expose some of those non-profits that are not charitable in their intent or in practice. You may have seen it. If not, though, I saved a copy of it and will be happy to email it to you on request.

 

          The Salvation Army topped the good-guy list. Per the meme, that organization pays its CEO $13,000 annually and 93% of all donations actually go to the needy. Others on that good-guy list were Ronald McDonald Houses, Lions Club International, Veterans of Foreign Wars, St. Jude, World Vision, and Make A Wish Foundation. Notably, though, the CEO salaries paid by those other organizations were substantially higher. St. Jude, Make A Wish and Veterans of Foreign Wars topped that list—with CEO salaries ranging from $824,000 to $238,211. I was personally surprised to learn that the Ronald McDonald House CEO receives no salary, while 90% of all donations go to the needy.

 

          On the bad-guy list, per that meme, were also some major surprises: Just 8% of all donations to Goodwill Industries and the American Red Cross go to the needy, while the CEOs' annual salaries are $2,300,000 and $1,030,022, respectively. Just 9% of all donations to United Way go to the needy. That organization is said to pay its CEO a $1,026,017 salary. The March of Dimes' CEO salary is said to be $495,000, while just 10% of its donations go to the needy. And then there's UNICEF, whose CEO gets the use of a Rolls Royce and an annual salary of $1,200,000, while a reported 14% of its donated monies get to the needy. So what might the Roman Emperor, Constantine, have to do with any of that?

 

          Constantine, a life-long sun-worshiper (while claiming Christianity for political gain), observed that the "church" at Rome was haphazardly organized and had gained little to no control over the scattered adherents to Christianity. Through his skillful manipulation of dialog at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), Constantine succeeded in convincing pompous would-be "church" leaders that they could benefit enormously from his well known financial and political savvy. He assured them that organizing for control would include the need for their followers to "have some '$kin' in the game." Those churchmen were quickly enticed by the very phenomenon Paul had warned of a full three centuries earlier—"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things…" [1 Timothy 6:10,11] What followed was this:

          >  "The popes filled the place of the vacant emperors at Rome, inheriting their power, their prestige, and their titles from paganism." —Stanley's History, p. 40

 

          After the Reformation, Protestant groups quickly adopted (and adapted) the business model the Romans have used ever since that A.D. 325 Council of Nicea. Because "money talks," several of those Protestant organizations soon amassed political power, too. Like the Roman "church," accountable to no one, those Protestant "churches" have become a lot like the proverbial manufacturer of industrial lubricants that uses all (or almost all) of its output to lubricate the machinery with which it continues to manufacture lubricants.

 

          Complain all you will about all those evil non-charitable "charities," but haven't they simply copied the business model of "the church." Now, tell me, if you were going to start a non-profit organization tomorrow, what business model would YOU be inclined to adopt?

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0089, 12/12/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "The GREAT COMMISSION"

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          There is an enormous amount of misinformation about the nature of The Great Commission—even within mainstream Christianity. So, then, what exactly IS the assigned mission of The Church? Is it to get lots of people "saved?" Is it to KEEP people "saved?"

 

          A respected clergyman posted this to Facebook on Saturday, October 25th: "Jesus told us over 2000 years ago to 'Go into all nations and preach the gospel' but people still sit in church and just preach to the choir. But when a politician calls a press conference and announces a 'new initiative'...[there is always]...a bunch of preachers standing behind them on camera to participate in prayer walks, marches, and anything else in preparation for the next election."

 

          There were multiple responses to that post. Some of them focused on getting people "saved" and then "baptized" and then into "an active church life," etc. I viewed and then contributed to that Facebook dialog on Sunday morning, October 26th, to extend and redirect the focus:

 

          Scribe pro tem: "Hmmm...If I recall correctly The Great Commission is about MAKING DISCIPLES. There are BIG differences between Believers and Disciples. The visible church has made millions of Believers, but who's making Disciples? Can that be done from a pulpit?"

          Clergyman: "The Great Commission consists of three components: Effective Evangelism, Biblical Discipleship and Church Mobilization."

          Scribe pro tem: "Agree. And the street version of that is (1) Preach, (2) Make Disciples of those who Believe and (3) Teach/Encourage the new Disciples to do the same. Believers can't fulfill The Great Commission. Disciples can."

          Clergyman: "I know what you are saying...but I don't want people to get confused. Only believers can become disciples. Immature believers are undiscipled."

Scribe pro tem: "Can't argue with that...but aren't most churchgoers already confused? Don't they think they're Disciples because they Believe and are faithful in church attendance? Don't most pastors think they're fulfilling The Great Commission because they've filled their pews with Believers? Even devils believe (James 2:17-26 ). "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." —Luke 14:33

          Clergyman: "Yep...right!"                           

          Scribe pro tem: "Worthy exchange! Thanks! Be blessed, sir!"

 

          The term "Disciple" is often defined as a person who follows Christ, but that's clearly an oversimplification. It's one thing to become a Believer, but to become a Disciple a Believer must fulfill Jesus' "The Great Commission" (Matthew 28:19, 20). That means to become a Student of, an Adherent to and a Teacher of the doctrines of Christ.

 

          To become a worthy Student, one must study (2 Timothy 2:15) to gain the knowledge of Christ's doctrines. But that takes time, so how can one become an Adherent to a set of doctrines of which one has little knowledge? By progressively applying what one has learned: "Walk in the light that you have." And how can one become a Teacher of Christ's doctrines? By progressively sharing with others what one has learned: One of the most effective ways to master a subject is to teach it to someone else. And that's in perfect alignment with one of the signature principles of Christianity—Those who freely give from their abundance will receive more, in abundance.

 

          "But don't people have to be 'called' to ministries like teaching?"

 

          That Matthew 22:14, "For many are called, but few [are] chosen," scripture is too frequently misinterpreted. Some use it to reinforce a presumption of their own elevated professional status. Jesus' "The Great Commission" is not a command to any "special" group, but to us all. Take that to the bank.

 

          No one can "teach" a young child how to ride a bike. Kids learn how to ride bikes from patient COACHES. Shepherds can't produce sheep. Only sheep can produce sheep. Nobody can "make Disciples" from a pulpit. The making of Disciples is not a preacher's calling. It's a "coaching" assignment...to us all. Disciples are made one-at-a-time, by other Disciples, and that takes time. But where are the Coaches? You? So, then, what exactly IS the assigned mission of The Church?

 

          Follow this link to read Jesus' "The Great Commission" in several versions of the Bible: http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Mat&c=28&t=NKJV#s=957019

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman


Blog #0088, 12/05/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "SANTA & Other Fairytales"

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          Take a really short nostalgic trip back to the days of your childhood: Remember how you felt when you first learned that your parents and their adult relatives and friends had lied to you about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy? Did you begin to question other things they told you, too...especially when they added that you must Just have faith to believe it? That's how I felt decades later, when I discovered that my parents and their relatives and friends and our religious leaders had all misinformed me about the nature and scriptural meaning of faith. Disillusioned. Embarrassed. Angry. Confused.

 

          Why would they have done that? The short answer is that they didn't intentionally lie. Instead, they were driven by the universal forces that yield abusive behavior in adults who were themselves abused as children. By innocently repeating those lies the people you and I have trusted most have perpetuated one of the most damaging forms of emotional and mental abuse. Compounding that problem is this: Whenever Christians express doubt, their mentors often cite the "just shall live by Faith" scriptures—Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. The message? Even if it makes no sense at all you must have Faith to believe it, anyhow; so don't be 'a doubting Thomas!'

 

          Given such a strong guilt trip, most Christians stop questioning those who presume religious authority over them. Me? I stopped questioning them openly. Inside me, though, the questions kept gnawing away, and I didn't know how to gain peaceful resolution. Was there something wrong with me? Actually, no. The visible church teaches people what to study—to confirm doctrine. What I hadn't yet learned is how to study, to gain truth. You?

 

          Just know that you are not likely to learn how to do that in church. Why? The visible church would quickly lose its control over you and all the faithful. Many would even start questioning its credibility and its authority...and their questions would enjoy the full support of Scripture. Is the mindset of the visible Christian church unique? No. Mind control is the primary tool of all organized religion and government.

 

          >  "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." —Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark

              Twain

          >  "Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense." —Carl Sagan

          >  "God's gift of a 2 Timothy 1:7 sound mind is a terrible thing to waste." —T. C. Newsome

 

          Jesus never permitted his feelings to interfere with his thinking. His responses were always rational—never hyperspiritual and rarely emotional. Want to be like him? That's how.

 

          The apostle, Paul, pronounced high praise of the Bereans of Acts 17:11. Why? Both they and the Thessalonians had initially responded to the Gospel with extreme skepticism. The Thessalonians simply rejected the message. The Bereans went home and studied the scriptures, again, to learn whether the things they had heard just might be true. Paul called the Bereans "more noble" because of a characteristic that prompted them to respond intelligently when things didn't quite make sense. By that measure, might Thomas have been our Lord's more noble disciple? At 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul (also the author of those "The just shall live by faith" scriptures) wrote, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed..."

 

          As again evidenced by a memorable email exchange with a former pastor, the vast majority of clergymen think themselves "called" and all the rest of us "not called." I reminded him that, though many are called, few are chosen. He was quick to agree, based on the apparently prevailing mindset that preachers are "the chosen ones" and we, the "not called" and "not chosen," are their subordinates. He wrote, "My earnest prayer for you and all those who are taking part in your studies is that you will be sure that you don't trade Faith for Understanding." 

          >  "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?…and fools hate knowledge?" —Proverbs 1:22

          >  "...knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth." —Proverbs 14:6

          >  "My people are destroyed for lack of   [sincerity?]   [prayer?]   [worship?]   [church attendance?]   [holiness?]   [faith?]   [righteousness?]  [hyperspirituality?]   [believing

              what ‘we' believe?]   knowledge…" —Hosea 4:6

          >  "...they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge...and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the

              righteousness of God." —Paul, at Romans 10:1,2

          >  "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as

              have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them

              that are of full age..." —Paul, at Hebrews 5:12-14 (See, also, Jesus' words at Matthew 15:14, re: the blind that presume to lead the blind.)

          >  "If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all." —Jesus, at Mark 9:35

 

          Surveys by George Barna and others indicate that surprisingly large and growing percentages of Christian believers perceive that much of God’s written word is fiction. For many, that appears to be a conscious conclusion. For many others, it is apparently subconscious. I think that phenomenon is directly attributable to childhood disillusionment. Who’ll be held accountable for that?

 

          Feel very free to send us your questions and/or scriptural rebuttals: Click on the "CONTACT" tab. But, please, no arguments from 3rd-party "experts."

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0087a, 11/27/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "THANKFUL For..."

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I thank you, Heavenly Father, that you Are.

I thank you for Who you are.

I thank you for What you are.

I thank you for Why you are.

I thank you for Where you are.

And I thank you for When you are

...without start or finish...

I thank you for what you have Done.

I thank you for Substantial Observable Evidence

of yourself in things you have created.

I thank you for the extensive, unmistakable 

evidence of YOU throughout the rapidly

vanishing vapor that is my life.

I thank you for Jesus...your word made flesh

and then transformed, as an example of

what I can become.

I thank you that He, too, has become

my personal friend, my elder brother.

I thank you that, through HIM, all that is IS.

He even paid a debt for me that I could not pay.

Thank you for teaching me, through your written word,

that other peoples' experience is more

efficient and a lot less painful.

Thank you, also, that

I can make you very

proud if I behave

as if I am serious

about all the above.

                                ―T.  C. Newsome

 

For more T.  C. Newsome poetry and quips and wise quotes, "LIKE" our Facebook page.

 

Blog #0087, 11/21/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "Upon THIS Rock"

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          Most churchgoers probably know that, while we enjoy just one English-language word for "love," the New Testament Greek language has several. Here are five familiar examples:

          >  "But I say unto you, Love your enemies..." —Matthew 5:43,44

               The Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible reference for "love" in that passage is G-25, agapaō: "1. of persons: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to

               love dearly; 2. of things: to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing."

          >  "But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you." —John 5:42

          >  "By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." —John 13:35

               The Strong's reference for "love" in both of these verses is G-26, agapē: "affection, good will, love, benevolence, brotherly love."

          >  "...Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces" —Mark 12:38

               Strong's G-2309, thelō: "to will, have in mind, intend; to be resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to wish; to like to do a thing, be fond of doing; to take

               delight in, have pleasure"

          >  "[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love..." —Romans 12:10

               Strong's G-5360, philadelphia: "love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love; in the NT the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren"

          >  "...thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets..." —Matthew 6:5

              Strong's G-5368, phileō: "to love; to approve of; to like; sanction; to treat affectionately or kindly; to welcome; befriend; to show signs of love; to kiss; to be fond of

              doing; to be wont; use to do"

 

          Few churchgoers may know that the New Testament Greek language also features multiple words for "rock." Many are confused and many others are simply misinformed regarding the following example:

          >  "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church..." —Matthew 16:18 

              "Peter," here, is Strong's G-4074, Petros: "...a (piece of) rock..."

              The word, "rock," at Matthew 16:18, is Strong's G-4073, petra: "...a (mass of) rock..."

              The Greek word, petros, is thence a movable rock or stone and the Greek word, petra, is an immovable rock.

 

          You'll recall that Peter denied Christ three times, thereby demonstrating his "mobility." The only scriptural rock that cannot be moved is the rock, Jesus Christ. Not convinced? Here's more:

          >  "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock." —Matthew 7:24  <

               G-4073, petra, a solid, immovable rock

          >  "And did all [i.e.: the Hebrews, after their escape from Egyptian bondage] drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:

               and that Rock was Christ." —1 Corinthians 10:3,4 < G-4073, petra, a solid, immovable rock

 

          At Deuteronomy 32:1-43 is "the song of Moses." Most believers are NOT familiar with it, or with the enormous significance of it. Verse 31 reads, "For their rock [is] not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves [being] judges." About Peter? Not. And, then, there's this concerning "the song of Moses." It was written of those who will have overcome the Beast:

          >  "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and 

               true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints." —Revelation 15:3 

               "The song of Moses" is not about Peter:

          >  "[He is] the Rock, his work [is] perfect: for all his ways [are] judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right [is] he" —Deuteronomy 32:4

          >  "And he said, The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer" —2 Samuel 22:2

          >  "To shew that the LORD [is] upright: [he is] my rock, and [there is] no unrighteousness in him." —Psalm 92:15

 

          While Acts 2 confirms that Peter established the first church, he established it on the solid rock, Christ. Reminiscent of the Prudential commercial, Peter may've had a piece of the rock, but he was clearly not "this rock" of Matthew 16:18.

          >  "A little leaven [i.e.: tolerating sinful lifestyles within the body of believers] leaveneth the whole lump." —1 Corinthians 5:6

          >  "A little leaven [i.e.: false doctrine] leaveneth the whole lump." —Galatians 5:9

          >  "Discernment is telling the difference between right and almost right!" —C. H. Spurgeon

          >  "Hyperspirituality is demonstrably ineffective as a tool for discernment. Those who're blessed with the gift of discernment are simply 'above average' in their ability

               to separate what feels right from what's scripturally right." —T. C. Newsome

 

          Given the fact that the gates of Hell have observably prevailed against the organized visible church (protestant and catholic), was Peter the first pope?

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0086, 11/14/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "LIFESTYLES & Salvation"

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          A former member of our Link1(TM) Bible Research Team who briefly aspired to tenure couldn't quite make the cut. During our initial series of explorations into the topic of salvation theology that person could never get beyond the question, "What sin is so terrible that it could cause a person to lose his eternal salvation?"

 

          To that person, it was a legitimate question. To several people in our much larger Bible Discovery(SM) group it was a sensible question, too. After all, a salvation that is eternal would be impossible to lose; wouldn't it? And sin is sin; isn't it? If the wages of sin is (sic) death, then one sin simply couldn't result in a more severe form of death than another; could it? And there's this humorous quip from comedienne Paula Poundstone: "The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it’s just sort of a tired feeling."

 

          Key to our initial series of discovery were these two verses:

          >   "All things...are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." —Paul, at 1 Corinthians 6:12

          >   "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us...If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." —1

               John 1:8,10

Collectively, our smaller research team came to paraphrase the essence of that first scripture like this: "I will not permit EITHER of my sins to become a lifestyle." That was to become a daily affirmation for each of us, even today.

 

          So! We concluded that the question, "What sinful LIFESTYLE is so terrible that it could cause a person to lose his eternal salvation?" would have been more appropriate. Still, though, we were collectively hogtied by the realization that anything "eternal" simply cannot be lost! I'll talk about how the scriptures, themselves, were to resolve that dilemma for us, below. For now though, let's cut to the "sinful lifestyles" chase. The following passages were/are addressed to CHURCH PEOPLE; not unbelievers. You'll do well to keep that critical fact in mind as you read:

          >   Ten (10) sinful lifestyles that will preclude salvation: "Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that [your] brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the

               kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor

               covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.." —Paul, at 1 Corinthians 6:8-11

          >   One (1) sinful lifestyle that will preclude salvation: "It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named

               among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife...To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day

               of the Lord Jesus.." —Paul, at 1 Corinthians 5:1,5

          >   Four (4) sinful lifestyles that will preclude salvation: "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any

               inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.." —Paul, at Ephesians 5:5

          >   "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

               For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience...But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy

               communication out of your mouth." —Paul, at Colossians 3:5,6,8

          >   Eight (8) sinful lifestyles that will preclude salvation: "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and

               idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." —Revelation 21:8

          >   Six (6) sinful lifestyles that will preclude salvation: "Blessed [are] they that DO (surprised?) his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may

               enter in through the gates into the city...for without [are] dogs^, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh

               a lie." —Revelation 22:14,15

               ^"dog" —Strong's ref. #G-2965, kyōn: "...metaph. a man of impure mind, an impudent man"

 

          To discover some of the complete surprises we eventually discovered about salvation theology, you may want to get a copy of the extensive scholarly research and analysis paper, "The Salvation Scriptures Objectively Analyzed." Copy and paste this link into your web browser for info: http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/4031347. Keep in mind, though, that what we ultimately discovered didn't match what ANY member of our multi-denominational Bible research team had always been taught. And what we had respectively been taught populated the full spectrum of salvation theology...both extremes and everything in between.

 

          Among our surprises was the discovery that, throughout the Old and New Testaments, the scriptures consistently characterize "salvation" as a FUTURE Perfect condition—neither Past Perfect, Present Perfect nor Present Progressive. How the theologians of both the Calvinist and the Arminian camps missed that glaring and well-documented Bible fact is anybody's guess. The Calvinists are correct (on the surface) when they say that eternal salvation cannot be gained and then lost. The Arminians are wrong (on the surface) when they say that salvation can be gained and then lost. In the final objective analysis, then, the mindsets of both theological camps are wrong. That's because what believers who actually follow Christ have is the HOPE of eternal salvation. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:8, below.)

 

          Calvinists presume that salvation is a PAST PERFECT event which can never be undone, even voluntarily. Arminians also insist that salvation is an event, but one that must be repeated or refreshed, perhaps several times, in order for one to make it into Heaven. Those are the terribly misguided extremes of salvation theology. The abundantly clear Bible message regarding salvation is this: When one accepts Christ as Lord and Master of one's life and one's lifestyle, one has taken the first important step on a journey toward one's FUTURE Perfect salvation. Given the above scriptures AND the exceptionally strong warning of 2 Thessalonians 2:3,11,12, many sincere believers who will have taken that first step will NOT complete that journey.

 

          Here is a small sampling of the New Testament scriptures that yield exceptional confirmation of these conclusions. (The pertinent Old Testament scriptures are also consistent.):

          >   For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved (a future perfect condition) by his

               life." —Paul, at Romans 5:10

          >   "And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer (a future perfect condition) than when we believed."

               —Paul, at Romans 13:11

          >   "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself (a future perfect condition), and them that hear thee."

               —Paul, at 1 Timothy 4:16

          >   "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the HOPE of salvation (a future perfect condition) ." —Paul, at 1

               Thessalonians 5:8

          >   "But he that lacketh these things (the fruit of the Spirit) is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his OLD sins." —2 Peter 1:9

 

          And there is the ever-present nemesis of the gospel according to John Calvin, Hebrews 6. The most highly polished theologian spin masters have been embarrassingly unsuccessful in their ongoing attempts to explain it away. Read that in your own Bible, as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means. Then read Ezekiel 18:20-32 for confirmation, being fully aware that we serve an unchanging God.

 

          There is just one final judgment. No one will be declared "saved" or "not saved" until then. I know that's a hard pill to swallow. It was really hard for me, too: I grew up singing, "I'm Saved and I Know That I Am!" We even sang that song in children's church.

          >   "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things DONE in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or

               bad." —Paul, at 2 Corinthians 5:10

For those who're wondering about those people (righteous and unrighteous) who will have already experienced physical death when that time comes, that's when they'll be judged, too.

 

          The appropriate question, then, is this: "What SINFUL LIFESTYLES are so terrible that they will cause sincere believers to miss out on future salvation?" Will you now join with us in repeating this daily affirmation? —"I will not permit EITHER of my sins to become a lifestyle." Meanwhile, there is this:

          >   "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." —1 John 1:9

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0085, 11/07/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "How the Apostles DIED"

                      Click HERE for the reader-friendly PDF version of this blog post.

 

          When Jesus' disciples prompted him to behold the beauty of the temple at Jerusalem he told them that the time will come when not one stone of the temple will be left standing on another. Although much of Jerusalem and most of the temple were destroyed in A.D. 70, a memorable part of it – the famous wailing wall – stands, today, with lots of stones upon stones. Having finally acquired ears-to-hear, they asked him about that and about what Paul Harvey would've called "the rest of the story."

          >  "...the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall those things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

               —Matthew  24:3

 

          As recorded at Matthew 13, Jesus had already laid the groundwork for the time when he knew they would finally have acquired ears-to-hear. Jesus' responses on that pivotal day are recorded at chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew, at Mark 13 and at Luke 21. His responses included some warnings. At Matthew 24:9 he said, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."

 

          The burning question is whether Jesus intended that message just for those 12 disciples. Might he have intended it for us, too? In either case, those hand-picked men were to learn, first-hand, that Jesus had included them. Here's how each of them died:

 

          Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. He died in Patras, Greece. After seven soldiers had whipped him severely they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it with these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he drew his last breath.

          Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was a missionary to Asia. He represented our Lord in present-day Turkey. He was martyred for his preaching in Armenia. He was flayed to death, there, by a whip.

          James, the leader of the church at Jerusalem, was thrown a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. Upon discovering that he had survived the fall, his enemies beat him to death with a fuller's club. (This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus for his Temptation after 40 days in the wilderness.)

          James the Great, son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade. He became a strong leader of the church. He was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched in amazement as James defended his faith at the trial. Later, the officer walked beside him to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept his own beheading as a Christian.

          John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution at Rome, but he was miraculously delivered from death. He was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote the prophetic Book of Revelation there. Later, he was freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

          Jude was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

          Luke was hanged in Greece because of his effective preaching to the lost.                                                                       

          Mark was dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, until he was dead. While it's true that Mark was not an apostle, nor among Jesus' original 12 disciples, he kept close company with them. He was considerably younger than they and the attraction was apparently mutual. The book he wrote quickly gained recognition as part of The Holy Scriptures. (Theophilus, of Antioch, is considered the first person to quote primarily from the New Testament as God's "divine word." The books of the New Testament were formally collected in the late Second Century.)

          Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, by a sword.

          Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.

          Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the Roman Emperor, Nero, in A.D. 67. Except for Paul's lengthy imprisonment we likely wouldn't have the epistles he wrote to the churches he had established throughout the Empire. Those letters, which still teach the foundational doctrines of Christianity, are a big part of the New Testament.

          Peter, like Andrew, was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Tradition says that He personally asked to be crucified upside down, though...because he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus had died.

          Thomas died from stabbing with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.

 

          So, was Jesus' Matthew 24:9 warning just for his original disciples? Ponder this: Per recent estimates, 11 Christians are martyred every single minute, today. Thousands of Christians are currently being raped, sold as sex slaves, tortured, beheaded and even burned alive. But you've come to believe that American Christians are "special." Right? We're to get raptured out'a here before anything like that comes to the U.S.A.; right?

 

          I know, that's what my trusted mentors taught me, too. In fact, that's what I taught for decades. It was after I had retired that I was able to discover the scriptural and historical truth about the slithering Occult origin of that cruel hoax. No rapture theory was ever preached, taught or written about by anyone before the 19th Century. It was never preached or written about in the U.S.A. until the 20th Century. In the Bible, that's characterized as a new wind of doctrine.

          >  "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby

               they lie in wait to deceive." —Paul, at Ephesians 4:14

 

          >  "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for

               the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and THEY

               lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." —Revelation 20:4 (Emphasis via capitalization is mine.)

               Did you notice that the people who're to reign with Christ for a thousand years are NOT a group of really special American super-Christians who'll have just

               returned to Earth from a seven-year party in Heaven?

 

          Take this to the bank, too: To be "saved" we must each endure until the bitter end...or die trying. But someone has fully convinced you that you're ALREADY "saved;" right? Throughout the scriptures "saved" is consistently characterized as a future-perfect condition. If that's news to you, you may want to get a copy of our extensive scholarly research and analysis paper, "The Salvation Scriptures Objectively Analyzed." Follow this link for more info on that: http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/4031347.

          >  "...for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed." —Paul, at Romans 13:11

 

          It is a fact that much of what masquerades, today, as "old time religion" is actually quite new. Both individually and collectively, the scriptures are clear: We must endure the entire Great Tribulation in order to be saved. See Matthew 10:22; 24:10-13 and Mark 13:13 to confirm that.

 

          Follow this link for some fascinating additional information on this topic: http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/BLOG/0081.pdf. Meanwhile, your questions and scriptural rebuttals are always welcome. (Please, no arguments from third-party "experts.")

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0084, 10/24/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "A DIFFERENT ‘Last Trump’?"

                      Click HERE for larger type and reader-friendly formatting.

 

          I received two separate clergy rebuttals to the October 3rd blog post, entitled "The LAST Trumpet."

 

The first one reads like this:

 

          "The seventh trumpet in the book of Revelation could not be the last trump spoken of by Paul since the last trumpet in Revelation was not revealed to John until about 36 years after Paul wrote about the last trump."

 

I responded thus:

          "Do you think it possible, [name withheld as a courtesy], that Paul learned on the road to Damascus what John was to learn later? Jesus was the revelator in both cases."

          I didn't hear back from him, so perhaps he's still pondering the sensible logic of that. If I had heard back from him I would gladly have shared the following rationale:

          After Jesus got Saul/Paul's full attention on the road to Damascus, something truly remarkable happened: Jesus shared with Paul enough critical information as to have enabled Paul's amazing knowledge and insight to have apparently exceeded that of ALL the original apostles—including John.

 

          The second clergy rebuttal cited the arguments of third-party "experts." (We typically do NOT entertain 3-party arguments, but I'll share this one with you, anyhow.)

Here it is, verbatim:

          "We cannot go to the Book of Revelation and say that the voice of the seventh angel (Revelation 11:15) is the last trump. In the first century, the last trump (shofar) meant a specific day in the year. In Judaism, there are three trumpets (shofarim) that have a name. They are the first trump, the last trump, and the great trump. Each one of these trumpets indicates a specific day in the Jewish year. The first trump is blown on the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Exodus [Shemot] 19:19). It proclaimed that G-d had betrothed Himself to Israel. The last trump is synonymous with Rosh HaShanah, according to Theodore Gaster in his book, Festivals of the Jewish Year, in his chapter on Rosh HaShanah. Herman Kieval also states the same thing in his book, The High Holy Days (Volume I, Rosh HaShanah, Chapter 5, Footnote 11), in the chapter on the shofar. The great trumpet is blown on Yom Kippur, which will herald the return of the Messiah Yeshua back to earth (Matthew [Mattityahu] 24:31)." (Hebraic Heritage Ministries, http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2175/)

          "(Lev 23:24 KJV) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

          "(Num 29:1 KJV) And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.

          "According to Num 10:10, Israel was to blow a trumpet at the beginning of each month. Since the Mosaic festival year was seven months long, the seventh month (Tishri) was the last month for a festival trumpet. This day, the first day of Tishri, which was the start of the Jewish civil year, was known as Rosh haShanah (the Feast of Trumpets or the Day of Trumpets). "The last month in the seven months' series was always sounded on this New Moon Day. This made it the final trumpets' day." (Ernest L. Martin, The Star that Astonished the World, (c)1996, pg 95)

          "Martin further signifies this day by relying on the work of Theodor Gaster and his book titled "Festivals of the Jewish Year." It is stated that early Jews recognized the Day of Trumpets as a type of memorial day. More than our modern versions of the holiday, it was instead a day that was symbolic of the time "when the dead return to rejoin their descendants at the beginning of the year." Martin also quotes Gaster in saying that this was "the time that became a symbol of the Last Trump." (Martin, pg 96)

          "(1 Cor 15:52 KJV) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

          "(1 Th 4:16 KJV) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

          "It is quite possible that Paul, being Jewish himself and surely knowledgeable of the Jewish feasts and customs, was making a symbolic reference to this time of year -- the Day of Trumpets. "The 'Last Trump' of the early Jews was when the dead were remembered. And to Paul the 'Last Trump' was the time for Jesus' second advent and the resurrection of the dead." (Martin, pg 96)."

 

This was my reply:

          "Thanks, [name withheld as a courtesy]. You're the very first preacher who has been willing to offer this oft-presumed subordinate layman any sensible rationale for the "That's a DIFFERENT 'last trump'" claim. You've afforded me the opportunity to understand some of the reasons for their resistance. It's clear that you've done some extensive homework. I respect and appreciate that. I perceive substantial flaws in the premise, though. Please let me know if you perceive flaws in my response:

          "A.  It's conjecture: The operative phrase in the last paragraph is, "It is quite possible..."

          "B.  In the first paragraph, the significant message is this: "The last trump is synonymous with Rosh HaShanah... The great trumpet is blown on Yom Kippur, which

                 will herald the return of the Messiah Yeshua back to earth."

                 That contradicts this: "...the Day of Trumpets..."when the dead return to rejoin their descendants at the beginning of the year"...this was "the time that became a

                 symbol of the Last Trump."

          "C.  I find an interesting parallel in the O.T. seven trumpets (one for each of seven months) and the trumpets of the seven angels of Revelation. Logically, in each case,

                 the seventh one is the last one.

"My conclusions are these:

          "1.  Political parties hire accomplished spin masters. They write the talking points that are then memorized and broadcasted by empty-suited political talking heads.

                 The institutional church also hires accomplished spin masters. They're called theologians. The talking points they write also feature dignified rhetoric that is

                 expertly sculpted for glib replay by talking-heads. The observable priority for all denominational theologians known to me is to find ways to lend "intellectual" support

                 to their respective "what 'we' believe" franchises. The uninformed and the misinformed (politically and religiously) respond, "Wow! That's beautiful! It makes sense!"

                 And they ever thence repeat it, too.

          "2.  The context of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is the relative timing within the sequence of end-time events for Jesus' return to gather the saints unto himself. That'll be the

                 FIRST (not the second) Resurrection, as described at Revelation 11:15 and 20:6. The seventh (i.e.: last) trumpet will sound precisely 3-1/2 days after the TWO

                 WITNESSES come back to life—Revelation 11:3-15. Neither in the O.T. nor in the N.T. can there be found any implication of a First Resurrection #1a followed by a

                 First Resurrection #1b.

          "3.  Given absolutely no credible scriptural support for the 19th-Century Occult rapture prophecy, the denominational theologians went to work to FIND some believable

                 prop-ups.

          "Still, though, my appreciation for your research AND for your uncommon willingness to share is solid and sincere. I still haven't forgotten how helpful you were in truing up my understanding of the more-likely dimensions of The New Jerusalem." (Click HERE to read that short "New Jerusalem" article.)

 

          Please share how YOU might've responded to these two clergy rebuttals: http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/contact.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0083, 10/17/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "Heads v. Hearts"

                      Click HERE for larger type and reader-friendly formatting.

 

          I enjoyed some invigorating Facebook dialog with a fellow Bible scholar in late August. I had posted multiple scriptures relative to the critical importance of gaining KNOWLEDGE after one has decided to accept Christ as Lord of one's life and lifestyle. This was among those scriptures:

          > "My people are destroyed for lack of [sincerity?] [prayer?] [worship?] [holiness?] [righteousness?] [hyperspirituality?] [regular church attendance?] [faith?] [charity?]

             [believing "what 'we' believe?"] [getting "truly 'saved'?"] knowledge…" —Hosea 4:6

 

This is how he responded to that post:

          "The way of salvation is not knowledge, it is a free gift from God, so that no man can boast. The fruit of the spirit is love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, self control ....but I don't see knowledge. Don't get me wrong, you have listed some great passages about knowledge, and we should sharpen each other's knowledge and search the writings for understanding...but remember the Pharisees had all kinds of scriptural knowledge and most could not see Jesus for who he was. People should follow us because we follow Jesus, not because of our ability to use the original language tools, not because we have a secret to understanding a bible. If salvation is for only the extremely smart then I certainly must not be saved. Like Paul, the only thing I can claim to really know, is Christ and him crucified, buried and resurrected!"

 

Here's the text of my reply:

          "Points well taken, [...]. I'm enjoying the dialog! While it's true that knowledge isn't REQUISITE to accepting Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior of one's life AND lifestyle is just the beginning. Throughout the N.T., we're commanded to put on the MIND of Christ. Curiously, though, in no scripture are we told to put on the HEART of Christ. Many, with hands raised and tears flowing down cheeks sing, 'To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus. That's all I want, to be like Him.' Well, Jesus never permitted his FEELINGS to override his THINKING; e.g.: those post-wilderness-experience temptations and His memorable 'It is written' responses.

          "In a previous post, you lamented that 'the church' continues to languish in its infancy. I couldn't agree more. That still-infant 'church' has made lots and lots of BELIEVERS.

          > "Problem #1 is that Jesus never told us to make Believers; He told us to make DISCIPLES. Who's doing that?

          > "Problem #2 is that the visible church and the vast majority of Believers wallow in a FEELINGS-based faith. Most have absolutely no idea WHY they believe whatever

              they believe about the Bible and Christianity. That equates to pure mysticism. Hence the enormous value of scriptures like, "How long, ye simple ones will ye love

              simplicity? ...and fools hate KNOWLEDGE." —Proverbs 1:22

          > "God's gift of a sound MIND is a terrible thing to waste." —T. C. Newsome

          "Here's something worth considering: At least among evangelical groups, 'salvation' is typically treated as a Present condition or (among Calvinists) a Past-Perfect condition. Throughout the O.T. and N.T. scriptures, though, Salvation is consistently characterized as a FUTURE-Perfect state; e.g.: '...for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed.' —Paul, at Romans 13:11

          "Wisdom dictates that a good part of the knowledge prudent believers MUST acquire is how to use the available tools for doctrinal and historical scrutiny. Only then can we be transformed from Believers into effective Disciples. Only then can we KNOW why we believe whatever we come to believe about the Bible and Christianity.

          "Although knowing and interacting regularly with Christ and His other followers certainly FEELS good, I'm convinced that we must subordinate those Warm Fuzzies experiences to the aggressive pursuit of KNOWLEDGE and Understanding. The alternative is...well, you know.

          > "'Discernment is telling the difference between right and almost right!' —C. H. Spurgeon"

 

He responded like this:

          "This last post of yours makes good sense. One of the many problems I see in today's local churches is the lack of various feelings—either always solemn or always upbeat: rarely a consistent balance. As I read scriptures in both the O.T. and the N.T. I see all types of feeling both good and not so good. I had been mostly associated with always solemn Baptist and Catholic churches whereas I suspect with your pentecostal/charismatic background you have been associated with a lot of 'feelings'-oriented churches. I think Jesus had feelings and he expressed them. I don't recall many N.T. passages regarding his feelings, other than his expressions of anger in the temple and his love for Lazarus and for Jerusalem, as he wept over them.

          "Having recently read some non-canonical texts, I was pleased to read in the gospel of Judas [that] Jesus laughed a lot! We were created in His image and He created us as feeling people, I suspect because he is a feeling God. How can you separate the heart, mind and soul? Jesus declared the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength! He isn't taking about our physical organs so much as our spiritual, but likely both. We understand that it is from our brains that we think, we hear, we see, we sense and we feel. We can neither live without a brain nor without a heart. The heart, from a physical [perspective], is thought only to be a pump with both some innate control as well as control from the brain. But we often associate the heart with feelings. Some cultures do the same with the 'bowls.'

          "I agree to some extent that we should make decisions based on our thinking and our brains but I don't doubt we are to do the same with our feelings and our 'hearts.' Truly our heart-organ is not wicked. It is the selfish desires that come from our feelings or our thoughts that are wicked. Saying our hearts are wicked covers all the bases and causes us, or should cause us to look deeper into our thoughts, feelings and motives. I rarely raise my hands in 'show' of 'feelings' and often do not 'clap' or applaud other peoples' [performances] or ministry. I do hear and agree with what you say but there must be a balance and we must be careful to judge the thoughts and intentions of others."

 

My reaction:

          "Several of my Bible study colleagues have read some of the non-canonical texts and find them fascinating but, largely, worthy of some scrutiny. I hope to become familiar with those texts, too, within the next several months."

 

          Why not share YOUR thoughts on this conversation!? http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/contact.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0082, 10/10/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "Son of PERDITION"

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          So those you have trusted most have taught you that Judas is "the son of perdition." Don't feel alone; my trusted religious mentors taught me that, too. They had heard it from their religious mentors...who also got it by word of mouth from people they trusted. Where did they get it? Well...you know.

          > "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." —Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark

              Twain

 

          The fact is that if Judas were "the son of perdition" no one would be able to connect some really critical scriptural "dots;" e.g.: the end-time sequence of events. If "connecting the dots" is as important to you as it has become to me, then you will want to pay very close attention to what follows, here:

 

          There is just one person whose character and mindset are a unique match for Scriptural characterizations of "the son of perdition:" 

          > "For thou [Lucifer] hath said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the

              congregation, in the sides of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." —Isaiah 14:13,14

          > "Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition

              [Lucifer]; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that

              he is God." —Paul, at 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 (Is there even a remote possibility that that describes the mere man, Judas?)

 

          But what about Judas? Many Bible "experts" (especially those who preach the gospel of John Calvin) teach that Judas is "the son of perdition." Those who study to understand what the Bible really says soon learn that Judas repented!

          > "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, REPENTED himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief

              priests and the elders...and he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver

              pieces...and bought with them the potter's field...Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day." —Matthew 27:3-8

 

          Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver onto the temple floor. The chief priests used it to by a potter's field, where Judas died. A suicide hanging? Sounds unlikely!  See Acts 1:18,19, below, for another take:

          > "Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.  And it was

             known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem, insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue Aceldema, that is to say, The

             field of blood." —Acts 1:18

 

          The truth probably lies at a point between these two versions of the story. It is clear that Judas did not buy the potter's field, as is reported at Acts 1:18,19. But if Judas death was a suicide hanging, then why does Acts 1:18,19 say that he plunged headlong into the potter's field and his bowels gushed out?  That is not consistent with a suicide hanging. Putting those two versions of the story together in favor of a more likely scenario, I have concluded this: (1) The chief priests bought that potter's field, (2) took Judas there and then either (3) threw him onto the rocks of the field or (4) hanged him and used a sharp instrument to slit his abdomen, so that his bowels gushed out. All we know for certain is that Judas repented.  Smile broadly and then embrace our brother, Judas, when you see him in Heaven!

 

Have you ever betrayed Jesus?                                                 

          > "Verily I say unto you, all sins shall forgiven unto the sons of men [except Judas?], and blasphemies wherewith soever they blaspheme:  But he that shall blaspheme

              against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness..." —Jesus, at Mark 3:28,29

          > "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." [unless your name is Judas?] —1 John 1:9

 

          As surely as you are reading this, some pious person (probably a fan of the gospel of John Calvin) will tell you that it can't be true. That person will likely direct you to this:

          > "...those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, save the son of perdition..." —Jesus, praying to the Father, at John 17:12

 

This may help:

          > "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." —John 1:1

             Jesus was with the Father eons before his 12 earthly disciples were born. Clearly, the Father had "given" him Lucifer. Of those given to Jesus, only Lucifer (a.k.a.

             Satan), the son of perdition is lost. Bank it.

 

          There are substantial additional rationale to support these conclusions. They qualify as scriptural "meat," though. We will publish them later—in an extensive scholarly research paper entitled "Genesis, Chapters 1–9."

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0081, 10/03/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "The LAST Trumpet"

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          Nicholas Cage is among my favorite actors. He's probably not aware, though, that the producers of the newest "Left Behind" movie (in theaters today) neglected to apprise him (and you) of some critical insight—that the last trump of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the trumpet of the seventh angel of Revelation 11:15.

          >  "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST [i.e.: 7th] trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be

               changed." —1 Corinthians 15:52

          >  "And the SEVENTH [i.e.: last] angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and

               of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." —Revelation 11:15

That seventh (last) trumpet will sound precisely 3½ days after the TWO WITNESSES come back to life—a startling event that will be seen by tens of thousands, worldwide. I hope you'll read that entire passage in your own Bible but, for your added convenience, here's part of it:

 

          >  "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and                kill them. And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of

               the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And

               they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt                on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet;

               and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to

          heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake

               were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven...And the seventh [i.e.: last] angel sounded;

               and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and

          of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." —Revelation 11:7-13,15

 

          Yes, I know; your preacher is likely to offer the scriptural explanation his seminary professors taught him:

          >  "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." —Jesus, at Matthew 24:36

               Can't refute that. It's true. Know this, though: While Jesus doesn't know the day nor the hour for His last [7th] trump return, he clearly knows the precise timing –

               within the seven-event final countdown – for His return to gather those who will have been faithful to the end. Those people will be fully informed about that, too:

          >  "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." —Paul, at 1 Thessalonians 5:4

          >  "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Jesus, at Matthew 24:13 and Mark 13:13

               For a fascinating one-page chart that depicts that seven-event final countdown copy and paste this link into your web browser window:

               http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/Appendices/Appendix%207.pdf.

 

          My nephew once asked his pastor (a really large pentecostal church) about all this. Here's how the pastor responded: "Oh! That's a different last trump!" Apparently in a hurry, that pastor offered nothing more...ever. My nephew's intelligence was fully insulted. Never took his family back into that incredible environment. Didn't attend any church for years. Shame. How might YOU have responded?

 

          >  "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man..." —Jeremiah 17:5

 

          Someone in whom you've invested your complete trust may also have convinced you that an "extra special" group of saints who're gonna get raptured out'a here before all the really bad stuff happens are the ones who'll reign with Christ for 1,000 years. (People you don't trust can't deceive you.) The Bible, itself, clearly and completely refutes that nonsense:

          >  "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for

               the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and THEY lived

               and reigned with Christ a thousand years." —Revelation 20:4 [Caps, for emphasis, are mine.]

          >  "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Jesus, at Matthew 24:13 and Mark 13:13

               What? Someone has also convinced you that you're already saved?

               "Saved" in the scriptures is consistently characterized as a future-perfect condition. If that's news to you, you may want to get a copy of our extensive scholarly

               research and analysis paper, "The Salvation Scriptures Objectively Analyzed." For platinum-level members of our web site, that publication (and several others that

               feature our scholarly research) is free. Copy and paste this link into your web browser window for more information:

               http://bibleexplorers.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/4031347

 

          But how about the 1 Corinthians 15:52 "...and we shall be changed" verbiage? Is being "changed" the equivalent of "getting raptured?"

 

          When Jesus died, he became "...the firstfruits of them that slept." Read about that at 1 Corinthians 15:20. Upon His resurrection, He became the firstfruits of them that are to be resurrected [1 Corinthians 15:23]. As the "firstfruits" of our resurrection, Jesus' experience is our benchmark (i.e.: the prototype). In short, His resurrection is the best example we're given for comprehending what our own resurrection experience will be like. It was not accompanied by "rapture." Instead, Jesus was "caught up" – i.e.: harpazō'd  [Strong's G-726] – into a wonderful new spiritual body. That's the "twinkling of an eye" CHANGE that those who're to be included in "the first resurrection" of Revelation 20:6 can anticipate.

 

          By now you should be sufficiently informed:

          1.  The last trump of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15—precisely 3½ days after the two witnesses come back to life and are transported to

                 Heaven. See Revelation 11:7-13,15 to verify that.

          2.  That event and "the first resurrection" will be at the END of the Great Tribulation, not at any point before that. There is to be no resurrection (and not even the

                 remotest possibility of a rapture) before it. Read Jesus' own proclamation at Matthew 24:13 and Mark 13:13 to confirm that.

          3.  The saints who are to reign with Christ for a thousand years will NOT be some really special group of super saints who'll have partied with Jesus and the angels in

                 Heaven for seven years, while God's elect are left to endure hell-on-earth. Refresh your comprehension of Revelation 20:4 to confirm that.

          4.  Prior to the 20th Century, when literacy was the exception, Christian believers had no choice but to trust paid professional Christians to do their Bible studying

                 and critical thinking for them. You're literate and, per 2 Timothy 1:7, God has also given YOU a sound mind. That'd be a terrible thing to waste, you know. Review

                 Jeremiah 17:5 to grasp the enormous gravity of that.

          5.  The great end-time "falling away" will be the direct result of the fact that millions of churchgoers will refuse to be informed about all this. 2 Timothy 4:3,4 serves to

                 verify that. (Can unbelievers "fall away?")

                 Those you've come to trust, who do they trust? Shouldn't your trust be restricted to what's WRITTEN?

 

          Finally, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone had promised each of those thousands of Christians who're currently being raped, sold as sex slaves, tortured, beheaded and even burned alive that "Jesus is gonna rapture y'all out'a here before all that really bad stuff starts happenin', praise God!" What could be more CRUEL and unscriptural than that!?

 

          So how and when did such a hoax get started? In April, 1830, a 16-year-old tuberculosis patient "prophesied" it. She and her best friend and that best friend's sister are known to have engaged in Occult practices...to include automatic writing, talking in "tongues" and levitating. On the very same evening, that 16-year-old girl also "prophesied" that the leading socialist of the day (Robert Owen, 1771-1858) would soon be identified as the Anti-Christ. The historical record has now been fully vetted and fully vindicated. Facts. The rapture theories are what the Bible calls new winds of doctrine. Hmmm...

 

          >  "The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." —Alvin Toffler, American futurist

                (former associate editor of Fortune Magazine)

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0080, 09/26/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "JUMPING!"

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          There is no changing the laws of gravity and aerodynamics. They are what they are. What they are is not subject to expert "interpretation." Skydivers study them in order to avoid the tragic consequences of not knowing them. After an introduction to the basics they continue studying those laws for what they are. They do that because they love skydiving, their lives depend on knowledge about it and because they want to keep gaining insight into how to leverage those laws for maximum personal benefit.

 

          Military skydivers study for greater efficiency and targeted accuracy, to extend their lives in combat. Those who jump for pleasure study to increase hang time and improve their airborne maneuvering, as well as accuracy. Their on-going study can yield more and more knowledge about how to jump safely. Critical to the safety of each jump is a carefully packed parachute.

 

          Beginners have no choice but to trust others to pack their chutes for them. But they must quickly learn how to do that for themselves and to get it right the first time every time. Once they have acquired that skill they must keep practicing with a focus on the small things. If they don't, just one overlooked detail can cost their life.

 

          After several dives, beginners may progress to the intermediate stage. But their studying must continue. Then, having graduated from the intermediate stage to the ranks of accomplished skydivers, their self-confidence improves. But they still fear and respect the laws of aerodynamics and gravity. Specifically, they fear the consequences of breaking those laws. If they ever lose that fear and that respect, they can become overconfident. A symptom of overconfidence can be just one corner of a parachute not tucked properly. The short-term and the long-term consequences can be very costly to them. The wages of overconfidence (i.e.: a false sense of security) can be death.

 

          Those skydivers who fear and respect the laws of gravity and aerodynamics most are the ones who insist on packing their own parachutes. Why? It's because they also understand the laws of human nature (the Sin nature); i.e.: no other person can care as much about maximum safety for each jump than the person who'll be jumping.

 

          There is no changing the laws of God. They are what they are. They are not subject to any expert's "interpretation." Smart Christians study them in order to avoid the consequences of not knowing them. After an introduction to the basics they continue studying those laws for what they are. They do that because they love God and because their quality of life depends on it. They also want to gain ever-increasing knowledge and insight into how they might leverage God's laws for maximum eternal benefit. Their on-going acquisition of understanding helps them live their lives in safety. They also do it to make their calling and election sure. [2 Peter 1:10]

 

          Beginners may have no choice but to trust others to explain God's word to them. Most never advance beyond that "beginner" stage. Many of their preachers want them to remain dependent. But they can quickly learn how to interpret God's word, accurately, for themselves. Once they have acquired that skill, they must keep practicing it and learning. If not, the short-term and the long-term consequences can be very costly to them. The wages of overconfidence (i.e.: a false sense of salvation security) can be Death.

 

          For centuries, literacy was the exception. The illiterate masses had no real choice but to trust preachers to interpret God's word for them. Today, though, literacy is the norm—and God's word has been translated into the language you speak and understand with relative ease. So, why would you passively trust any other human being to interpret God's word for you? Because human nature is the Sin nature, human beings are biased. To advance, you must learn to study God's written word for yourself, as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means. The www.DYPK.org site can help you learn how to do that…IF you have gained "ears to hear" and if it's your mindset to respond like those Bereans of Acts 17:ll.

 

          > "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man…" —Jeremiah 17:5

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0079, 09/19/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "Feelings"

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          Human nature is more rationalizing than rational. How reliable are YOUR feelings when it comes to critical reasoning? When another Christian suggests an interpretation of important Scripture that differs from what you believe to be true, what do you FEEL? Where does that feeling come from? In pentecostal circles, at least, it is said that those feelings are from the Holy Ghost. Are they? In thinking that, are the pentecostals alone?

 

          If you should ever resolve to gain truth, the enemy of your soul would entice you to hold, with a death grip, onto your church's "what 'we' believe" franchise. What weapon will he use? Your FEELINGS. If you often utter pious phrases like, "…what I feel in my spirit…," when discussing the interpretation of Scripture with others, then Lucifer has already victimized you. Will you be his permanent victim, or will you break free? To break free you must do what Jesus did when Lucifer tempted him after his post-wilderness experience. Refresh your memory about that event at Matthew 4:1-11—"It is written."

 

          > "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your MIND…" —Romans 12:2

 

          Is that (a) something you can do? Or, (b) is it a thing you should pray about, asking God to sanctify your mind so that the way you think will come to match the way Jesus thinks? If your honest answer is (a), then you have just made a rational decision concerning the right division of Romans 12:2. "Rational" equates to "objective." If your honest answer is (b), then you have just rationalized; i.e.: relied on your FEELINGS to make a decision about the division (See 2 Timothy 2:15) of a critical scriptural command. By no stretching of reason does Romans 12:2 mean that one should pray, "Oh God, please change the way I think so that I can be more like Jesus." People that are prone to such rationalizing are said to be double-minded. The message is, "Do it."

          > "I hate double-minded men…" —Psalm 119:113 [NIV] (See also James 1:8 and 4:8.)

 

          It hurts me deeply to observe the much too easy ongoing deception of sincere Christian believers—even clergymen. Most will never progress beyond sincere Believership to productive Discipleship. To be a Disciple one must become like Jesus. To become like Jesus, one must THINK like Jesus thinks. Jesus never permitted his feelings to interfere with his thinking. Is that consistent with the message from the pulpit at your church?

          > "Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Philippians 2:5

 

          That Lucifer's M.O. has not changed should come as no surprise. Although he failed to gain control of Jesus, getting control of the visible church has been a cakewalk for him. Pop singer, Debby Boone, made the "It can't be wrong when it FEELS so right" lyrics enormously popular several years ago. Millions of uninformed Christian believers and their unwitting clergy quickly transformed those lyrics into the virtual anthem of the visible church. The result?

 

          Finding themselves unable to cite any objectively interpreted scriptural support for their modern pentecostal beliefs and practices, adherents are often heard to say things like, "Well, I still FEEL like it's the real thing" and "But I still know that what I've experienced is real." Even after they've been shown, conclusively, that there is not one sensibly interpreted Bible passage (and no collection of scriptures) to support John Calvin's once-saved-always-saved spin, proponents are heard to say things like, "Well, you know, I just FEEL like it would somehow cheapen my salvation experience to think it could be gained and then lost" or "I'm still convinced, 'by the whole counsel of scripture,' that a loving God just wouldn't give a person eternal salvation and then take it away." What could sound (and feel) more religious?

 

          The fact is that neither my opinion nor your opinion matters on either of those two representative scenarios. The only thing that matters is that on issues like these, God's written word is extremely clear…for those who will resolve to THINK like Jesus thinks.

          > "Substitutes for rational thinking, opinions are valueless. Credible conclusions result from sensible research and sound reasoning. Of a necessity, they are

              systematically subjected to and then survive objective scrutiny. Study, draw conclusions and then invite rebuttal. Only those conclusions that prove their ability to

              withstand objective scrutiny are worthy. That is especially true in matters of religion. Characterized by ignorance and presumed in arrogance, subjective attacks are

              of no consequence. And arguments from third-party 'experts' are not allowed." —T. C. Newsome

 

          The predominant mindset is reasonably characterized like this: "Don't bother me with Bible facts, I FEEL in my spirit that 'what we believe' is right." What I find shocking and really heart breaking is that the Calvinists and the pentecostals are only representative of that mindset: It appears to be the pervasive mindset of parishioners and the clergy of every Christian denomination.

          > "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9

 

          The original spinmaster, Lucifer, must be very pleased. His cleverly chosen field of covert action is your FEELINGS; not your intellect. When will you break into your enemy's camp and take back what he has stolen from you?

 

          Afraid? Has God given you the spirit of fear…or of a sound mind? If a sound mind, then you have the ability to THINK rationally. If you will resolve to stop playing by Lucifer's rules and start playing by Jesus' rules, you can begin the critical process of casting sectarian dogma aside in favor of original truth.

 

          Can you accomplish that alone? Not easily. It can become much easier for you if you will get into a fully interactive Bible Discovery Group(SM) that has resolved to aggressively avoid the human nature propensity to homogenize. If that group has cultivated a forum for on-going reciprocal instruction, correction and reproof [See 2 Timothy 3:16 and 4:2.] from the Bible, itself, you will have found a worthy opportunity for personal growth. What should you expect from a long-term experience with such a group? Long-term progress toward fruitful Discipleship. Know this: If your faith cannot withstand objective Scriptural scrutiny it is nothing more than mysticism.

 

          Are these the last days? If what you believe about the Bible and Christianity includes one or more of today's wildly popular mainstream denominational doctrines, consider the critical message of 2 Timothy 4:2-5: In these last days, people will not endure Sound Doctrine. The option? Popular fables. Today's most popular and "successful" preachers are little, if anything more than highly polished motivational speakers.

          > "A talented con man...does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing." --Thomas Sowell

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0078, 09/12/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "Filters"

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          The history of medicine and medical practice is fascinating. There was a time when almost anyone who wanted to become a medical doctor could become one. There were atrocities. Controls emerged. Medical practices improved with time, but with the controls came the propensities of human nature. The makers of medicine quickly recognized an opportunity—to influence medical school curriculum. That was a happy marriage. It continues today.

 

          Enormously profitable are the manufacture and sale of cancer drugs and chemotherapy and radiation equipment and prosthetics, etc. A huge healthcare industry has swollen with our ever-increasing cancer rates. That industry and its satellite industries employ multiple hundreds of thousands of people. Like the big banks and insurance companies and automobile manufacturers, it has become "so big that we cannot afford to allow it to fail." Politics aside, if the cancer industry were to crash the U.S. economy might be devastated. So is a cancer cure likely? Really?

 

          The history of Christian beliefs and practices and of institutional Christianity is even more fascinating. The institutional church also finds controls necessary. The burning question, here, is whether those controls might be of a similar character.

 

          During Jesus' post-wilderness-experience temptation [Matthew 4:1-11], Satan offered him wealth and power. Jesus refused it, of course, but only the naive and the uninformed could believe the visible institutionalized church might have resisted it. "My denomination?" Your denomination. Mine, too. The phenomenon is so pervasive that if critical end-time truth is to be preached to the masses it will not likely come from denominational pulpits, but from grass-roots Christian movements…The Church.

 

          Another asks, "But wouldn't it be necessary for religious leaders to exercise enough control to keep heresy out?" That's a sensible question. The answer is reminiscent of the business models for McDonalds and Burger King and Wendy's and KFC and Church's and Long John Silver's and Captain D's. Their franchise contracts are strongly worded to ensure a globally perpetual sameness. The (even innocent) application of that kind of sameness to the church yields a recipe for disaster. The primary tool for that disaster is mind control. The end products of that mind control are the respective "filters" through which sincere, but uninformed Christians ever thence read God's word. I, too, was numbered with the uninformed ...until I embarked on a plan to rectify that in 2006.

          > "Where all think alike, no one thinks very much." —Walter Lippman

 

          Religious mind control and the resulting  "filters" have effectively divided the visible church, yielding massive discord and confusion. If God is not the author of such confusion, then who'd that be?

          > "The gates of hell have prevailed against the visible church. The Church will arise from its ashes. With which body will you align?" —T. C. Newsome

 

          Tens of thousands of life-threatening medical and pharmaceutical mistakes are big news, today. But there was a time when doctors in the United States enjoyed our utmost respect. Today, many of the informed among us don't trust them at all. Why? Most of today's doctors, when they've graduated from med school and completed a residency, seem to think they've "arrived." While most states may require annual (or even less frequent) competency exams, their primary objective is to pass those exams.

 

          How do the majority of our Christian clergy differ? Only in that they practice religion instead of medicine: At seminary they learn  "what 'we' believe." From their pulpits they preach  "what 'we' believe." Their parishioners believe  "what 'we' believe." If you think that may NOT include you, then read on.

> "...IF ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." —John 8:32,33

 

          Jesus warned us, "Beware, lest any man deceive you." Only those you trust can deceive you. Who do you trust? Who do they trust? Then how can you ever enjoy the benefit of Jesus' promise at John 8:32,33? You can, but it won't be easy: "Mind Control" is not just the domain of politicians and dictators. It is practiced, universally, by the church.  "My church?" Afraid so. Consider this:

 

          Why do Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons believe what they respectively believe about the Bible and Christianity? Permanently implanted filters. Why do Pentecostals and Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians and Nazarenes and Episcopalians and Lutherans believe what they believe about the Bible and Christianity? Can't they read? …only through their filters. Why do you believe what you believe about the Bible and Christianity? Are your filters permanent? Probably. You CAN break free, but WILL you?

 

          Unless you are super-human, you currently read God's word through filters that have been pounded, repeatedly, into the very fiber of your being—by those you have trusted most. So effective has been the repetition that you will find it almost impossible to remove your filters. It is likely, in fact, that you will not even want to remove them. Why? There are at least three reasons. You will do well to recall them often: 

          > Repetition is "the mother of learning."             

          > Surely, "It can't be wrong when it FEELS so right." (memorable lyrics from a Debby Boone song that have become the virtual anthem of today's visible church)

          > Deception begins with trust and thrives on long parades of trust. Could someone you do NOT trust ever deceive you?

 

          Are our preachers malicious? The vast majority of them are not; they have methodically implanted filters, too. With few exceptions they are, themselves, deceived. The "what 'we' believe" filters that are manufactured and implanted by the seminaries (of all denominations) are even more difficult to remove.

 

          From childhood, my filters were pentecostal. As an adult, I read God's word through them. I was deceived. Many of my friends (then and now) comprehend God's word through their once-saved-always-saved filters. They are sincere and they are, perhaps, "truly ‘saved'," but still deceived—and their deception is demonstrably consequential. Many more of my friends – especially in the Bible Belt states – cling, with a death grip, to their Pre-Tribulation Rapture filters. They are deceived. A quick read of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 will disclose the enormous price they may ultimately pay. (You can only grasp the truth of that scripture if you will force yourself to read it as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means.)

          > "…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth… —from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 

          I know, it's comforting to presume that those scriptures were written about other believers and their preachers… 

 

          Those aren't the only religious filters that keep sincere Christians from truth, of course, but they easily serve as primary examples of the debilitating effect of religious mind control. Regarding each of these three examples, the objectively comprehended scriptures – and even the well-documented historical record – are an overwhelming indictment, whether taken individually or collectively. At least two of "The Big Three" filters are of Occult origin. Then how did they ever sink such deep roots into mainstream Christianity?

 

          If you were Lucifer, and as intelligent as we know him to be, how would you go about deceiving millions of sincere Christians and their preachers? When would you start that? Who would be YOUR front men?

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman


Blog #0077, 08/29/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "The 1st Flight OUT"

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        Because of the uniqueness of this post, the text of it is available only in a PDF document. Click HERE to view it. Excited about the new "Left Behind" sequel, starring Nicholas Cage? We think you'll want to see and share this one with everyone you know. (The strong warning of Ezekiel 33:6 compels us to share it with you.)

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

 

Blog #0076, 08/22/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "WHY Are Muslims Muslim?"

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        Someone recently quipped, "Muslims just can't be very smart." Another responded, "Oh? So you think Christians are smarter?"

Consider this: An estimated 93% of Muslims are Muslim for the same likely reason that YOU are Baptist or Methodist or Catholic or Pentecostal or Jehovah's Witness or Lutheran or Episcopalian or Atheist or Mormon or Nazarene, etc. Their parents or other close family members were Muslim.

 

        >  "In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." —Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain

 

        Christian? When will YOU do something about that? For help, explore www.DYPK.org.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0075, 08/15/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "The WITNESS STAND"

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        Mid-2012, a preacher friend requested our 39-page scholarly research paper, "Salvation Scriptures Objectively Analyzed." I sent it, along with some other documents of interest to him, on CD. (That was before the www.DYPK.org web site was online.)

                    

He responded via email:

        "I will properly review [the documents] later. I'm in the middle of some very needed one-on-one training for personal evangelism. I'm exited about it. It's old school fundamental witnessing. The material is enlightening to say the least. Most of today's Christians simply invite people to church instead of telling them about Christ. I have to admit I've done both but I would like to be better at sharing what He is to me. Thank you again and bless you for the gift of your friendship."

 

This is the essence of my reply:

        "Thanks, [name withheld]. The pleasure of our friendship is mutual. Both the bond and the pleasure of it can grow stronger in proportion to our mutual mindset to collaborate for the progressive discovery of God's original truth.

        "Regarding your worthy current passion, the term 'personal evangelism' may be more accurate for describing what I think you pursue than is 'personal witnessing.' Though common in evangelical circles, the latter term is an oxymoron:  On the witness stand, 'witnesses' answer questions about what they have previously 'witnessed.' In this case, learning how to improve the quality and effectiveness of your 'personal evangelism' equates to your striving to become a better 'witness.' Jesus called us to be his 'witnesses' (noun); i.e.: not to 'witness' (verb) to others – but to answer their questions about the joy and the blessings and the amazing peace we have personally experienced/witnessed in our personal walks with God.

        "I agree with you that the stereotypical believer simply invites people to church – 'You've just gotta hear our amazing preacher just once, at least!' That's partly because they have not been taught HOW to be effective witnesses.  Somewhere along the line, the visible evangelical church adopted the ill-informed notion that overt personal evangelism can be effective.  But even Jesus didn't practice that: His consistent personal evangelism strategy was essentially two-fold:

        "(1) He waited until a person had acquired 'ears to hear' before sharing really important information with them:  His mission was limited to just three years. Sharing critical information before people were ready to receive it would have wasted enormously valuable time. In that, he was our primary example of good stewardship of eternally valuable knowledge AND the efficient sharing of it...wise like the serpent but harmless like the dove. (The scriptural 'pearls before swine' verbiage also comes to mind, here.)

        "(2) If he perceived that a person may not likely acquire 'ears to hear' without some help, he would often say or do something that would pique their curiosity. When people get curious, they ask questions. When they ask questions they WANT answers. That's the essence of 'ears to hear.'

        "Just one example of Jesus' High-Vacuum Ministry Technique(SM), (#2) was his colorful encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. That technique was the essence of some of Jesus' parables, too. But the most extreme example of His use of it was on Saul of Tarsus, on that fateful road to Damascus.

        "Bottom Line: Most Christians go about 'witnessing' [sic] like the executive and legislative branches of our government went about passing the healthcare reform bill into law. Overt initiatives 'to help' people – even if the intentions are noble – yield the inevitable push-back. 

        "Peter addressed this issue intelligently: ...[Be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that ASKETH you a reason of the hope that is in you... —1 Peter 3:15  (The emphasis is mine, here, and in the following quote.)

        "Paul addressed it wisely, too: Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to ANSWER every man. —Colossians 4:6 (See, also, verses 3-5.)

        "Although this may sound impromptu, I have pondered this topic for quite a while. The fact is that effective discipleship cannot be 'taught,' especially from a pulpit or even in a Sunday School classroom. It must be COACHED, one-on-one. (To illustrate how utterly ineffective 'teaching' is in that case, consider this: Who could 'teach' a young child how to ride a bike? Only a personal COACH can do that. But where are the coaches in today's visible church...?

        "Jesus should be our only role model for finding creative ways to get people to ask. Behaving, day-by-day, as people who have personally 'witnessed' God's bountiful grace, mercy and blessing will make many observers curious enough to ask. But shouldn't we actively study and then COACH Jesus' personal evangelism techniques, encouraging believers to PRACTICE those techniques regularly, so as to develop the related SKILLS? Who's doing that? Is the current focus on fully choreographed Sunday-go-to-meeting entertainment more important?

        "Paul insisted that 'ministry' is not a profession, but 'what disciples do.' To what extent is the visible church reaching the mark of its high calling in that context? Consider, too, that Jesus didn't commission us to go out and get people 'saved.'  He commissioned us to go out and 'make disciples...' That's a job for one-on-one COACHES, too. Do you know any of those?"

 

        Never heard back from that former preacher friend. Was he offended by the instruction of a "subordinate" layman? Wouldn't that indicate that he thinks more highly of himself and his career profession than he ought? (Romans 12:3)

 

        May I hear from you? Your questions, comments and scriptural rebuttals are always welcome.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0074, 08/08/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "Follow Your HEART."

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        For Christian believers and every other human being, "Doing What Comes Naturally" comes all too naturally. Because human nature is the Sin nature, Christians are instructed in God's word to crucify it. What comes naturally for us is captured in a dangerously misguided religious cliché, "Follow Your Heart."

 

        The Old Testament is clearly a record of God's effort to teach the Hebrews why and how to THINK rationally—to use their MINDS, instead of their hearts, for making decisions and dealing with difficulty:

        > "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things] and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9

 

        In a nutshell, God's entire Old Testament message is justly characterized like this: "O.K. guys, these are the boundaries for your behavior. Stay within these boundaries to enjoy my blessings and my protection. Step one foot outside them and you're on your own. Step back inside to again enjoy my blessings and my protection."

 

        The Gospels record Jesus' modeling of – and confirming – that mindset for us: He never once permitted his FEELINGS to override his THINKING.  Want to be like Jesus?  That's how.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0073, 08/01/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "It's GOD'S FIGHT."

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        Many in our southeastern "Bible Belt" region, at least, are under the impression that when they and/or their principles are under attack, Christians must only turn the other cheek, have faith and pray...while GOD does all the fighting for them. That mindset keeps them on the bench and off the "playing (i.e: fighting) field." The scriptures serve as a clear indictment of that mindset:

     > "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done ALL, to stand." —Paul, at Ephesians 6:13

 

        Most appear to be unaware that Jesus refuted that naïve mindset, too:

        > "And he said unto them, 'When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing?' And they said, 'Nothing.' Then said he unto them, 'But now, he

            that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.' —Jesus, at Luke 22:35-36 

        Question: If in the 21st Century, what word might Jesus have used instead of "sword?"

 

        While it's true that God intervened supernaturally on behalf of Israel and Judah in some of their battles, He still required them to train and maintain standing armies that were well organized and fully disciplined…ready in-season and out-of-season to fight.

 

        Is there a practical application? Yes. It is this: If our republic is to survive the ongoing secular progressive[sic] war against it, Christians who have the ability to THINK objectively [See 2 Timothy 1:7.] must rid themselves of the naïve notions that have reduced them to "sheeple." They must join the much-too-thin ranks of the "sheep dogs." Else their children and grandchildren will die a slow, agonizing death – a death that results, partly, from the inheritance of unbearable national debt. Nikita Khrushchev predicted that in his most memorable speech of 1959.  The U.S. president confirmed it in his inaugural address of January 21, 2013.

 

        Why the emphasis, here, on THINKING? This is why:

        > "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? —Jeremiah 17:9

        > "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. —Paul, at Philippians 2:5

 

        An objective study of Jesus’ life and ministry will yield something that many will find astounding: Contrary to what you may keep hearing from your pulpit, Jesus never permitted his FEELINGS/EMOTIONS to interfere with his THINKING.  Want to be like Jesus?  That’s how. 

 

        The take-home message is this: The rapidly escalating secular regressive war against our constitutional republic is based on mindless emotions and feelings. That's precisely why Christian "sheeple" are so easily duped. Only "sheep dogs" can save our republic. Time to wake up, get off the bench and join the noble fight to save our republic or quit claiming to be "Christian."  God's gift of a sound MIND is a terrible thing to waste. (2 Timothy 1:7)

 

        For more scriptural insight into the preference of mind vs. emotion, visit our "BLOGS INDEX" page.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0072, 07/23/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "Are You SAVED?"

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        What goes through your mind when somebody asks, "Are you SAVED?" How does it make you feel? How do you respond? While some react positively, it can be convincingly argued that most people react negatively. So, should anyone ever ask you that?

 

        Synonyms for "saved" are "rescued" and "delivered." They imply the existence of a condition that is threatening, dangerous, desperate, or deadly from which one needs to be saved. "'Saved’ from WHAT?” is clearly a legitimate question. I had never consciously considered asking it, though. Have you? Oh, I had pondered it briefly from time to time, yes, but the universal gravity of it had escaped my consciousness—until a respected correspondent asked it via email. 

 

        "Salvation" is characterized by multitudes of clergymen as the ultimate remedy to those for whom life just hasn't delivered: "Come to Jesus if your marriage is on the rocks or the pursuit of your dream career has become a nightmare or your child isn't measuring up to your expectations or if you have willingly submitted to the 21st-Century slavery imposed by U.S. financial institutions and/or by politicians who have bribed you with an unsustainable flow of free stuff. Come to Jesus if you want deliverance from an addiction to drugs or alcohol or tobacco or sex or to escape domestic violence or jealousy or greed. Jesus will take care of it. He'll rescue you from your unfulfilled life."

 

        In this week's blog, I have documented my personal response to the burning "'Saved' From WHAT?" question. based on the pertinent scriptures with which I am familiar. While pursuing that, I felt also compelled to search the scriptures for credible answers to the questions, "'Saved' BY What?" and "'Saved' FOR What?" But how do the "experts" respond to the primary "'Saved' From WHAT?" question? I went online to find out. You may want Google(R) "saved from what?" too.

 

        Keep in mind, though, that what you will find online and in ALL books authored by the "experts" are scripturally derivative works: You should be skeptical, as were both the Bereans and the Thessalonians of Acts 17:11. (Please stop now and read that for critical insight.) Be a Berean-styled skeptic of what I have written, too. Then, to form your own scripturally credible conclusions, you must study the pertinent scriptures as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-they-mean. Yes; that.


        BECAUSE THIS POST IS  (and needs to be)  CONSIDERABLY LONGER THAT THE OTHERS PLEASE CLICK  HERE  TO READ IT.  It's a PDF document.


—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0071, 07/18/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "'Christian' CAMOUFLAGE"

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        Our Link1(TM) Bible Research Team's focus during the Fall and early Winter of 2008 was on pentecostal doctrines and practices. Parcel to my assignment was the distribution of large numbers of small slips of paper to members of pentecostal churches and their preachers. There were just two questions. They were based on Jesus' proclamation, "But ye shall receive POWER, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…," at Acts 1:8 —(1) "Power for what?" and (2) "What can pentecostals do that non-pentecostals can't and don't do with equal effectiveness?"

 

        What kinds of responses would you have anticipated? That's what I expected, too. But I was to be disappointed: To date, there have been no written responses. There were a number of face-to-face replies, though. They were all characterized by the pious "Let me pray about that and get back with you" cliché. Later, when I took the initiative to approach some of those pious ones their replies were, again, disappointing and stereotypical: "I'm still praying about that, brother."

 

        How might you interpret that? That's how I interpreted it, too: Seems even the pentecostals know that their power is limited to "tongue"-talking, etc. As multitudes of unbelievers have long justifiably suspected, religious rhetoric very often serves as camouflage for unrighteous hearts. The street-smart version of that is "Smiling faces tell lies."

 

        For several reasons that we continue attempting to expose, the visible church's loss of credibility may very well have reached critical mass^. Those who're a part of The Church must avoid those pitfalls at all cost. One thing we can resolve, now, to avoid is repeating those pitiful clichés that prompt others to recognize the "Christian" camouflage by which many seek to hide deceptive hearts.

 

        Questions? Comments? Scriptural rebuttals? Those are ALWAYS welcome.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

^"Critical Mass" is defined as the minimum number of adherents and resources needed to yield sustained growth (or sustained digression) and the eventual permanence of a religious, social or political
     state of affairs. By way of example, in late 2013 and 2014, proponents of the new U.S. "Affordable Care Act" were struggling to gain critical mass for that ideological initiative.

Blog #0070, 07/11/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "NEW JERUSALEM"

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        At John 14:2,3 are these words of Jesus: "...I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also." Revelation 21 describes the place he went to prepare for us:

        > "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of

            heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be]

            their God... And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will

            shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem,

            descending out of heaven from God...And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand

            furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the

            measure of a man, that is, of the angel." —Revelation 21:2,3,9,10,16,17

 

        Twelve thousand furlongs would translate to roughly 1,400 miles (2250 kilometers), using today's measures. That'd be the distance from Havana, Cuba to Toronto, Canada or from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Charlotte, North Carolina. And the walls of that majestic city are about 216 feet (66 meters) thick! At least two credible schools of thought concerning those measurements have emerged during my research.

 

        Many scholars contend that each of the four sides of the city is 1,400 miles long. If they're right, the city is also 1,400 miles tall. How tall would that be? Approximately 35% of Earth's 3,949 mile (6,355 kilometer) radius. Its 12-layered foundation would be 1,960,000 square miles (3,155,600 square kilometers).

 

        Other credible scholars insist the angel of Revelation 21 measured the entire circumference of the city. That would yield an approximate length of 350 miles (560 kilometers) for each side and a 122,500 square mile (197,225 square kilometer) foundational footprint. The height of that structure would reach 350 miles (560 kilometers). How high is that? Mt. Everest is less than five miles high. Earth’s troposphere is roughly seven miles thick. Our stratosphere goes up to about 29 miles and is swallowed by space. Although, the scriptures are unclear regarding which school of thought is the right one, this second scenario makes more sense to me.

 

        WHO'LL GET TO ENTER that awesome place? Revelation 22:14,15 answers that question, very clearly: "Blessed [are] they that DO his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without [are] dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." Hmmm...Sounds to me like even those who've ever gotten "truly 'saved'" but practice certain sinful LIFESTYLES will be surprised by the upcoming lock-out! (Remember the five foolish virgins at Matthew 25?) Oh! So you've been taught something different? How would YOU paraphrase those critical words of Christ?

 

        WHEN will those who're qualified get to go in and occupy that awesome place with many rooms? That'll happen precisely 3½ days after the two murdered Witnesses come back to life [Revelation 11:3-15]. That's when Jesus will arrive on a symbolic white horse [Revelation 19:11], at the 7th Vial, the 7th Seal and the 7th Trump – i.e.: the last Trump. The rider of that first symbolic white horse will arrive at 6th Vial, the 6th Seal and the 6th Trump. Unfortunately, he is the grand imposter. Per 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, he will SUCESSFULLY masquerade as Christ, deceiving almost everyone on Earth...including sincere, but misinformed believers in Christ. How could that happen?

 

        First, unbelievers can't "fall away." Second, if you're among the millions who've bought into a very different sequence of end-time events, you're pre-conditioned for inclusion with those who are to "fall away." Blaming your preacher or your denomination's Bible "experts" won't help you. You'll bear the ultimate weight of your own decision to believe the enormously popular "feel-good" stories, after having been exposed to the clearly-stated, but not-so-attractive scriptural truth. Sincerity doesn't count! "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." —James 2:19

 

        Got a question? Got a comment? Got a scriptural rebuttal? Those are always welcome. Visit the "BLOG INDEX" page for multiple other topics.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0069, 06/27/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "When Others ASK"

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Roughly a year ago, a young reader submitted the following questions. Perhaps you can relate:

        "If someone asked you why you're a Christian, what would you say and why would that person need to be one, too? A few times I've had people ask me why I believe what I do. But I never could answer it because it's just what I've grown up on. It's a hard question. I could say some great things about being a Christian. I’m forgiven, I'm loved, I learn such great knowledge from what he put for me, I have an eternal home and a living God I praise. But why? Some people that aren't Christians wonder how we get here and what's the point of staying in that type of belief. But how exactly would you explain that to someone who doesn't even know where to begin?  Or why on earth we even believe what we do? It sounds crazy, but its like a[n] [East] Indian who'd grown up on something different. Maybe we're curious on why they believe what they believe and where's [the] proof. I can't prepare myself for people like that with questions, so when they ask, how am I supposed to get them anywhere?"

 

This is how I responded:

        "No matter what the religion, almost NO ONE would be able to come up with an effective answer for those who ask. It's a universal dilemma...not unique to Christian believers. Here’s a remarkable observation: 'In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.' —Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain

 

        "Here's a pertinent scripture that I've never heard from any pulpit: '...[be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that ASKETH you a reason of the hope that is in you...' --1 Peter 3:15   (Emphasis via capitalization is mine.)

 

        "I think the reason why most preachers skip over that scripture is because they prefer to teach their followers to share the gospel message even when people DON'T ask. They call it 'witnessing,' but that's a classic oxymoron.  (In court, do people go to the witness stand to "witness" or to answer questions about what they have previously witnessed?) First of all, sharing the gospel message with others who haven't asked is 'pushy.' 'Pushy' is what high-pressure salespeople are.  Second, it's horribly inefficient—a waste of time for BOTH parties. That's because, until a person ASKS, they don't have what Jesus called 'ears to hear:' Jesus NEVER shared any of the really important stuff with anyone until after they had clearly demonstrated 'ears to hear.'

 

        "The fact that you're aware and concerned that people who ask deserve credible answers is evidence that you've ALREADY distinguished yourself from at least 95% of the world's religious adult population. I think you can build your own standard response by following the apparent pattern of Jesus' first disciples and apostles:

        1. They cited the Hebrew [i.e.: Old Testament] scriptures that foretold the coming of the Messiah.

        2. They shared critical stories about the life and ministry of Jesus.

        3. They talked about his capture, mock trials, scourging, crucifixion and resurrection.

        4. They spoke of 'The Great Commission.'

        5. If they thought the other person/people STILL had 'ears to hear,' they shared the plan of salvation. For us, that might include John 3:16,17.

 

        "All this will require some short-term and long-term study and practice on your part, but I'm confident that you can master this skill. And, yes, it is a SKILL...to be improved with much practice, as in sports. So, I encourage to find at least one other person who also perceives the value of learning and polishing that critical Discipleship skill and start practicing, pronto!"

 

I received the following response:

        "Thank you for all that information! I'll be going over it and going to the Bible. I figured that I should wait 'til a person asks me, because I wouldn't like to be told or pushed into something like that without wanting to know in the first place; that is, if I were someone else. When someone asked me recently, I just all of a sudden had that question. And I've never heard that scripture, either, come to think of it. I'll definitely have to do some studying on this subject too! Thanks so much!"

 

        Might you have responded differently?  If so, how?

 

Here's how one experienced adult reader, Becky W., responded:

        "That scripture in 1 Peter immediately came to my mind even before I read your column. Telling my personal story of redemption as well as God's love in John 3:16,17 would be good as well. I believe that God gives us the words to help bring others to Him. I also include God in regular conversations even if people don't ask--without beating them about the head and shoulders with a Bible because (obviously) that won't work. Giving God glory at every opportunity is my way of praising Him, and it could be an opportunity for someone to ask me about my faith at that moment or during a time of need later on. I believe we need to live in such a manner that we don't have to shout that we are a Christian for people to see it. Our words and our actions should speak it loudly every day of our lives. Thanks for your ministry!"              

 

        Yes, it's really true: Jesus never shared any of the important stuff with anyone until after they had demonstrated "ears to hear." Why? Because he had just three years to accomplish his mission. If he had shared the important stuff with everyone – most of whom wouldn't have had "ears to hear" – it might've taken him 3,000 years to complete his assignment! Clearly, the efficiency of his sharing was as important as his message! So, how did he know when a person had acquired "ears to hear?"  This is how:

 

        Meteorologists forecast stormy weather when barometric pressures fall. The lower the barometric pressure, the more intense the storm. That's because nature abhors a vacuum.  Adjacent areas of higher air pressure rush frantically into the low-pressure area, in an effort to equalize the pressure.  That causes wind and other familiar weather phenomena.

 

        When a person gets really, really curious about something he/she starts asking questions...questions that appear to arise from a  burning  way down deep inside. That's because human nature also abhors a vacuum. When those kinds of questions emerged from a person, Jesus knew he wouldn't be wasting his valuable time in sharing critical information with them—because the timing was right; i.e.: that person’s listening efficiency was at its very highest point.

 

        There were some notable occasions when Jesus used a brilliant technique for purposely YIELDING a piqued listening efficiency in people who didn't already have "ears to hear." His intentional encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well is an excellent example of why and how he did that. 

 

        That High Vacuum Ministry Technique(SM) can be taught, coached, practiced and mastered. Shouldn't that sort of discipleship skill-building replace the currently observable emphasis on entertainment in the visible church?  Shouldn’t "To be like Jesus," be much more than the poignant words of a song?  Shouldn't believers be learning the methods and techniques Jesus used and mastering the skills he demonstrated for building the Kingdom? Isn't our time short, too?

 

        > "Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to ANSWER every man." —Paul, at Colossians 4:3-6

 

Here's a pertinent and brilliant quote from Chaplain Dave Sparks, Riverside, CA (Truckstop Ministries, Inc.), posted to Facebook on October 18, 2013:

        > "The problem with evangelism vs. discipleship is that evangelism is only a subset of full discipleship. Evangelism, by itself, leaves the church with a lot of infant,

            milk-drinking Christians. And then, to compound things, these same immature believers are 'trained' in evangelism. It's like multi-level 'pyramid' marketing where

            you become a distributor to sign up more distributors. The 'product' (if any) is secondary. Not all believers are called to be evangelists, but we're all called to be

            disciple-makers which is much broader than just evangelism. The 'product,' if any, is seldom more than 'fire insurance'—keeping people out of hell. As important as

            that is, it's far from being God's total will for us! And taking immature believers with a VARIETY of gifts and trying to provide rudimentary training in becoming 'junior

            evangelists' falls so far short of God's intentions for us."

 

        You?  Do you have "ears to hear?" Then submit your questions, comments and scriptural rebuttals. Those are always welcome.

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0068, 06/20/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "ROCKS"

                      Click HERE for larger type and reader-friendly formatting.

 

             During Old Testament times, when God performed miracles for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he often instructed them to build altars. They built those altars with rocks. So why did he ask them to do that? Beyond sacrifice and worship there were at least two other reasons:

             A. So they would remember it:  Every time those who had benefited from a given miracle would walk near that stack of rocks, they would be reminded, again, that

                  God had done what only God could have done and that they had been the fortunate beneficiaries of it.

             B. To make sure others would hear about God's trustworthiness: Decades later when someone would ask, "Why is that stack of rocks over there?" they would

                  inevitably hear the story of God's awesome compassion, power and faithfulness.

 

             God knows human nature (i.e.: the Sin nature) well. He knows that memories of bad times linger forever in our minds and that the memories of good times vanish quickly…unless there are visible "stacks of rocks" to make certain we don't forget. Will that work today?

 

             Yes! And it's as easy as one, two three. Try this when you need help:

             1. Trust God and pray, believing.             

             2. Gather some rocks.

             3. When God works your miracle, say thank you and then stack up those rocks you gathered earlier.

 

             Rocks? Really? Rocks? Well, not really rocks. But you can start a personal prayers-answered journal today. You might even title it "My Rocks" or something like that. In that journal, describe the "before" circumstance. Then write the date, time and nature of God's newest answer to your prayers. You might want to start that journal by writing about every time God has come to your rescue in the past—those times you can remember.

 

             The next time things aren't going your way, human nature (the sin nature) will prompt you to feed the misery by recalling many other times when things didn't go your way. But then your eye will catch a glimpse of that little “My Rocks” book. You will open it and begin to read what you've written. Tears will form in your eyes. You will have been reminded that God is trustworthy. Pretty soon, you will be building yet another stack of rocks.

 

             That little journal can help you change the way you think:

             > "Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Paul, at Philippians 2:5 

             > "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your MIND, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will     

                 of God."—Paul, at Romans 12:2 

 

             It can change what you think about, too!

             > "Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, what-ever things are lovely, whatever things are of

                 good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK on these things." —Philippians 4:8

 

             Why so much emphasis on using your MIND instead of your HEART...especially when things aren't going well for you? Here's why:

             > "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?" —Jeremiah 17:9

 

             Would you like to build a worthy legacy for those you love? Leave that little journal out for your children and others to see.  They’ll ask about it!

             > "[Be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that ASKETH you a reason of the hope that is in you..." —1 Peter 3:15

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

Blog #0067, 06/14/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "LISTENING"

                      Click HERE for larger type and reader-friendly formatting.

 

        This is how Jesus responded when someone asked him to identify the greatest commandment of all:

        > "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind...Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." —Matthew 22:37-40

 

        So exactly how are we to demonstrate love for our neighbors?  Part of the answer appears at Romans 12:10,16. There, Paul offers a prescription for our behavior toward other Christians, at least:

        > "[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" —Romans 12:10

        > "[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits." —Romans

            12:16 

 

        In the late Autumn of 2011, the dialog of a small group of enthusiastic Bible Explorers(SM) became even more lively when a participant asked, "Exactly how does a Christian ‘honor’ another person?" Synergy emerged when we explored the meaning of the word "condescend" and why/how we are to con-descend to other Christians "of low estate." The interaction and the reciprocal learning that followed were rich and fruitful. We discovered that some of the other Bible versions yield even more fascinating insight for Romans 12:10, quoted from the KJV above:

        > "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." —NLT

        > "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." —ESV

        > "love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor." —RSV

        > "..as to brotherly love, kindly affectioned towards one another: as to honour, each taking the lead in paying it to the other" —DBY

        

        "Honor," per Strong’s #G-5092, was translated from the New Testament Greek word timē —honour which belongs or is shown to one: (a) of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds; (b) deference, reverence.

 

        The word "condescend," at Romans 12:16, above, presented a stronger challenge for us: The questions, "Why?" and "How?" and "When?" must we "condescend" became our focus for awhile. Definitions for the word, "condescend," look like this:

        > "to do something that one considers to be below one's dignity" —WordNet 3.0

        > "to come down from one's superior position; to deign (to do something) – or to stoop or descend...to submit; to waive the privilege of rank or dignity" —Wiktionary

        > "to descend to the level of one considered inferior; lower oneself" —American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

        > "to descend from the superior position, rank, or dignity proper or usually accorded to one; voluntarily waive ceremony and assume equality with an inferior; be

            complaisant, yielding, or consenting in dealings with inferiors; deign – or to stoop or submit; be subject; yield" —Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

 

        So what behaviors might be observed in a person who "honors" another person – whether the other person is a social equal or one "of low estate?" Here's a starter for your consideration:

        "There are two types of people—those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are!'" —Frederick L. Collins

 

        Our group concluded that we "honor" others by saying and doing things that make them feel good about themselves. So that's how we're to demonstrate genuine love for other Christians! It's a good beginning, for certain, but there's more.

 

        Another participant suggested that there may be just one primary thing we can do to cause other people to feel good about themselves—just listen, really listen, to everything they have to say. For those who may view themselves as being "of low estate," we may have to ask a few sincere questions before they'll open up and share what's on their minds and hearts. The well-kept secret, though, is to just listen:

        "The opposite of listening is waiting: Most of us don't listen to understand, but to reply." --T. C. Newsome

 

        A young boy once visited with an elderly neighbor who was despondent because of the recent loss of his wife.  When the boy's mom asked where he'd been during that time he replied, "I was visiting with Mr. Hill, next door." 

        "Oh? What did you fellows talk about?" the mother asked.

        "Nothing.  I just helped him cry."

                                                                                                          

        Because the reason why we are to listen to others is that Jesus said we are to love them, the following analogy may also become valuable to you: 

 

        Remember when you fell deeply into love with another person? Your observable behaviors toward that other person changed. When that other person fell deeply in love with you, that other person's behaviors toward you changed, too. How?

 

        Envision two young lovers. One is talking and the other is listening. Well, "listening" may fall short of what's really        happening: The one listening is "hanging onto, even savoring every word" being spoken by the one whom they love. It’s as if those were the most important words ever spoken in the entire history of human interaction! My wife calls that unique facial expression observed in young lovers "goo-goo eyes."

 

        Reminisce if you will, and then consider the four intriguing scenarios that follow. They're based on the work of Dr. Anthony J. Alessandra of Ashtin Learning Systems, in San Diego, CA, and Dr. Edward Stainbrook, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine:

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Can Withheld Listening Be Capital Punishment?

 

1. McGraw-Hill Inc., in its The Power of Listening (© 1978), disclosed critical insight into reactions of human beings to withheld listening:

       "Among some remote people, a serious violator of tribal law is declared a 'Non-Person.'" No other person in the society is allowed to acknowledge the non-person's

        presence in any way, at any time. Doing so carries with it the risk of being declared a non-person, too. No one may even make eye contact with the non-person. No one

        may speak to or, in any way, acknowledge that the non-person has spoken. Touching or being touched by a non-person is also prohibited.

        The non-persons eventually succumb to extreme depression. Their postures become "hunched over." They begin to lose weight. Most of them soon wander off into the

        bush, where they die. 

 

2. Misbehaving children of some Victorian households were put "in Coventry." Coventry rules were similar to those tribal rules, above. Survivors have said they'd rather

       have been beaten.

 

3. The pitiful condition of children in Rumanian orphanages was widely publicized a few of years ago. No one responded when they cried. No one touched them, except to

       occasionally change a very dirty diaper. Many Americans tried to adopt those children. Some were successful, but there was a price to pay: 

       You may recall hearing that all of those kids were said to be mentally and/or emotionally "deformed" to some degree.  Even more disturbing was the suggestion that

       many of their physical deformities might have been the result of their circumstance.

       For many of those Rumanian children, withheld listening may, indeed, have been capital punishment.

 

4. Withheld listening is also used as a cruel tool of brainwashing, to intensify the erosion of self esteem.

    > "Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery." —Dr. Joyce Brothers

    > "No man ever listened himself out of a job." —Calvin Coolidge

 

        What might happen, then, if you and I were to focus totally on those other Christians with whom we interact? What might happen if we were to listen, really listen to what they have to say? Suppose we were to “hang onto, and even savor every word” they speak? Might we become genuinely interested in and excited about what they have to say? Might we add quality to their lives? Might they begin to feel better about themselves? Might they even reciprocate? Might we learn some important lessons and even gain some valuable information in the process?

 

         "Ah, there you are!"

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman

 

Blog #0066, 06/07/2014; Key Word/Phrase: "SABBATH"

                      Click HERE for larger type and reader-friendly formatting.

 

        "We are no longer under the Law but under Grace!" Those who scream it loudest still post the Ten Commandments on their lawns. I find that amusing. Ask any of those people whether we should obey the Ten Commandments and they'll quickly respond, "Yes!" Probe that response with, "All ten of them?" and they'll again respond, "Yes!" Anticipate a deer-in-the-headlights expression when you refresh their memory on commandment number four: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy..." —Exodus 20:8-11

 

        How many believers do you know who actually "keep" the Sabbath? Is it optional?

        > "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant." —Exodus 31:16

 

        That word "perpetual" at Exodus 31:16, doesn't it mean forever?

        > "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." —Jesus, at Matthew 5:18

 

        So, what exactly IS "the Sabbath?" Some will be surprised to learn that the Sabbath was never for "going to church" but for staying home and even indoors for 24 hours of complete rest. Doubt that? Here's proof:

        > "See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out

           of his place on the seventh day." —Exodus 16:29

 

        For some, scriptures like Acts 20:7 suggest that Christ's early disciples may have practiced "going to church" on the day after the Sabbath. 

        > "And upon the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his

           speech until midnight." —Acts 20:7

 

        Some Bible experts insist that you'll go to Hell if you don't attend church on Saturday. Other denominational pros retort, "Not so! The 1st-Century Christians 'went to church' on Sunday!" Is it possible that neither of those conclusions is aligned with original Scriptural truth about the 4th Commandment? Perhaps you'll be able to use the following additional information and insight to answer that question, conclusively, for yourself...

 

        My daughter and her family have always been very active churchgoers. She's in the choir, her husband is a church musician and soloist and their three daughters are immersed in church youth activities. During late November several years ago, they all participated in preparations for the Christmas drama. There was Sunday School at 9:30, church at 10:45, lunch at 1:00 or 1:30, Christmas drama practice at 3:30 or 4:00 and church again at 6:30. During our Sunday lunch together my son-in-law asked, "Pa, what happened to that 'day of rest' we're supposed to get?"

 

        Saturday is clearly the seventh day of our week. No known expert would argue that. Linguists consistently confirm that "Saturday" is derived from the term, "Sabbath," meaning "seventh." That is further evidenced in other languages; e.g.: the Italian word for Saturday is "Sabato" and the Spanish word is "Sábado." So, will you go to Hell if Saturday is not your day for "going to church?"  The following historical insight may help you get to the truth:

 

        Constantine I [272–337] was Emperor of Rome from 306 to 337. Historians say he was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Did he really convert or were his motives purely political? He and his co-Emperor, Licinius, issued the Edict of Milan in 313, declaring tolerance of all religions. Seeking to unify his empire and to make Christianity more palatable to the predominately Pagan population he "hybridized" the holy days and other religious practices of Christians and Pagans. "Sun Day" was the Pagan day of sun worship:

        > "In 321, Constantine instructed that Christians and non-Christians should be united in observing the venerable day of the sun, referencing the esoteric eastern

           sun-worship...Christian symbols appeared only as Constantine's personal attributes: the chi rho between his hands or on his labarum, but never on the coin itself.

           Even when Constantine dedicated the new capital of Constantinople, which became the seat of Byzantine Christianity for a millennium, he did so wearing the

           Apollonian sun-rayed Diadem." —http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_the_Great

 

        Surely, that's enough to yield a strong conclusion that Sunday is not "The Lord's Day."  Or is it...?  Can we be certain the seventh day of the week on the Hebrew calendar is the same as the seventh day of the week on the calendars we use today? Hmmm...

 

        Calendars are used to reckon time in advance and to fix the recurrence of events like harvests, religious festivals and such. Ancient people tied their calendars to whatever recurring natural phenomena they could most easily observe.  In some areas the annual weather changes fixed the calendars. In warmer climates the moon was used to mark time. Such was the practice in Southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. 

 

        Unfortunately, the cycles of the sun and moon don't synchronize well. The lunar year (12 lunar cycles, or lunations, each 29½ days long) is only 354 days, 8 hours long. A solar year is roughly 365¼ days. After just three years, a strict lunar calendar would differ from a solar calendar by 33 days, or more than one lunation. Today, Muslims adhere to the only purely lunar calendar in widespread use. Its months have no discernible connection to the seasons. That'd be why Muslim holy days, like Ramadan, may occur on almost any date of our calendar.

 

        We use the Gregorian calendar. But until 1752, Great Britain and, by default, we in America, used the Julian Calendar. You'd be correct in assuming that the Julian Calendar differed substantially from the Hebrew calendar of the Old Testament.  Because it had been invented by (and named after) Julius Caesar in 45 B.C., Jesus would have been quite familiar with the calendar confusion that still persisted during his lifetime here. Consisting of twelve 29- and 30-day months, the Hebrew calendar added an "intercalary" month seven times every 19 years. That may help to explain the sometimes confusing drift of Passover during our March and April and other Hebrew festivals and holy days throughout the year. 


        "Caesar's calendar, which consisted of eleven months of 30 or 31 days and a 28-day February (extended to 29 days every fourth year), was actually quite accurate: it

    erred from the real solar calendar by only 11½ minutes a year. After centuries, though, even a small inaccuracy like this adds up. By the sixteenth century, it had put the

    Julian calendar behind the solar one by 10 days.

        "In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the advancement of the calendar by 10 days and introduced a new corrective device to curb further error: century years such as 1700

    or 1800 would no longer be counted as leap years, unless they were (like 1600 or 2000) divisible by 400.

        "If somewhat inelegant, this system is undeniably effective, and is still in official use in the United States. The Gregorian calendar year differs from the solar year by

    only 26 seconds—accurate enough for most mortals, since this only adds up to one day's difference every 3,323 years.

        "Despite the prudence of Pope Gregory's correction, many Protestant countries, including England, ignored the papal bull. Germany and the Netherlands agreed to

    adopt the Gregorian calendar in 1698; Russia only accepted it after the revolution of 1918, and Greece waited until 1923 to follow suit. And currently many Orthodox

    churches still follow the Julian calendar, which now lags 13 days behind the Gregorian." —http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gregorian1.html#ixzz1rCzS8Rgj


        Given such confusion, who can know which is the first day and which is the seventh day of the week? 


        A respected member of our Link1(TM) Bible Research team recently observed, "The Sabbath was created for rest.  We find our rest in Jesus Christ." That conclusion is aligned with Bible scholars who assert that Jesus became our Passover.  They typically quote this, from Paul:

        > "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." —1 Corinthians 5:7

 

Perhaps because this topic was also hotly debated early in the 1st Century, Jesus and Paul both addressed it:

        > "...The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." —Jesus, at Mark 2:27

        > "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]." —Paul, at Colossians 2:16

 

        Best I can figure, God designed us to need REST on one day out of every seven. Saturday may easily qualify as our day of REST. To gain the benefit of complete Sabbath REST, though, shouldn't we designate yet another day for "going to church?"

 

        > "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." —Paul, at Romans 14:5

 

—Scribe pro tem, an informed layman


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