Category Archives: Bible

Set back for the Christian Community

Today is Monday, 6th February 2017. A well known radio preacher made a fool of himself on the air. Not only that, but he demonstrated a huge ignorance of claims made by Christian preachers in the past. Your humble correspondent does not know if the glaringly erroneous statements were made in complete ignorance of the prior claims, or if the speaker assumed no one would ever check.

A little research would have turned up the past claims; and to assume ignorance and blind acceptance on the part of the audience is both insulting and puerile.

The thought upon which he was expounding is valid. Essentially, he was saying the Bible makes no claims counter to that of modern science, and never conformed to the science – mistaken in the macro and sometimes in the micro – of the past.

There is an underlying assumption here that the scientific understanding of 2017 will never be altered. That ‘we’ are at the pinnacle of scientific understand. That in another three hundred years, or one hundred years, or fifty years or twenty minutes, discoveries will be made that alter the current views.

Probably not completely over rule current understanding, but alter it in the sense of expanding understanding and possibly altering the context of certain understanding. Much like how Dr. Einstein’s concept of Relativity expanded and contextualized Sir Issac Newton’s laws of gravity.

The speaker – who your servant hesitates to name – spoke about how the Bible never supported the Earth being flat. This would come as a shock to nearly all students of Theology and Biblical studies until sometime AFTER the age of Copernicus, Galileo, and the like.

Isaiah 40:22 (In the King James Version AND in the original Hebrew) reads that the Lord sits “… on the circle of the Earth…” and was held to be ‘literal’ – meaning as the reader understood it, not as the writer intended it – and indicated a two-dimentional shape (as understood later in Pythagorean or plane geometry). Therefore, the Bible implied the Earth is flat.

I’m not sure if the speaker mentioned it – I turned the station selector in disgust – but there are three passages of the Old Testament – two describing the same event – wherein the Bible implies the Sun stopped or reversed direction of travel, causing the day to be extended. (Joshua 10:12 to 14, 2nd Kings 20:1 to 11 and Isaiah 38:1 to 8) THEREFORE, the Bible says the Sun rotates around the Earth and the geocentric theory of the Universe is proved – according to the ‘science is bunk’ faction which lasted at least into the 19th Century. I notice it is not mentioned much currently.

I have no doubt of the extension of the days in question. Nor do I have any great scientific theory to explain it. The occurrences may well be miracles in the unexplained things of God sense. However, the heliocentric nature of the solar system is reasonably secure. Nor does the Bible anywhere claim otherwise; it does however record reports by eyewitnesses of what they observed. Which may or may not explicable in simple or familiar terms.

I wonder what repercussions this speaking session portend for the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) movement? The entire YEC theory is based on a ‘literal’ understanding of the King James Version of the Bible. Which this speaker denies.

One can conclude Christianity is not as monolithic as sometimes claimed. Then again, God is a very big God.

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Trey Pearson, the Homosexual, Christian Rock Singer. And?

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2016/06/16/christian-rocker-trey-pearson-reflects-on-life-after-coming-out.html?intcmp=hpff

Trey Pearson has publicly announced he is ‘gay’. So what? What possible meaning does this have for the world at large? What does it change in broad (no pun intended) terms? Not much.

It seems to be signaling the end of his heterosexual marriage, but his wife and he remain on good terms, it seems. It may quite possibly end the Christian music career he has been following. It may quite possibly cause broken connections between Mr. Pearson and some in the Christian community.

Frankly, I had not heard of Trey Pearson prior to this article appearing in Fox News. I do not follow ‘Christian music’ as I find most ‘Christian musicians’ are poor musicians in general and could not cut it in the regular music world. Sorry, but that’s my observation. (Feel free to disagree, but it’s a question of taste and not overly subject to rules of logic.)

Having said all that, I want to make a couple things clear.

I do not hate Mr. Pearson. I don’t even know him. He may be a prince of a fellow or he may be a rotten skunk; I simply do not know. I do know he claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ. In that regard he is my brother and I am obliged – ordered, expected – to love him as a Christian brother and also as a human being.

Anyone who fails to grasp that last paragraph doesn’t understand the Bible much, nor the English language.

Do I fully endorse his lifestyle or his actions in some regards? No. As I mentioned, I’m not fond of ‘Christian music’ and homosexual conduct is prohibited in the New Testament. Then again, I don’t fully endorse my – hopefully past – lifestyle or actions in all regards. I’ve never engaged in homosexual behavior, but I have been bitterly angry with others, coveted others property, engaged in petty theft, been derelict in my duties – both secular and Sacred – and chased women. (Not to be indelicate, I caught several.) So my life as a Christian is not unsullied and perfect, EXCEPT as God has forgiven me and credited Jesus’ perfection and atonement to my account.

The same conditions apply to all persons. The exception applies to all persons who have agreed – contracted – with Jesus as followers and protected persons of Jesus. That – as far as I can tell – applies to Mr. Pearson.

So; I will pray for Mr. Pearson, his soon to be ex-wife – and I don’t agree with them divorcing – his family, his future and his service toward God. I would pray and expect he will at some point end his homosexual life-style. Not to satisfy my feelings, or those of any preacher, pastor, or holy man; but in response to God’s extant statement on the subject.

I find this whole matter sad. But it is a sad world, ever since man decided to ignore God’s directions and make up his own. No doubt most of us will survive and even grow stronger in Christ.

Except for those who choose to further alienate themselves from God.

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The Argument for the Triune God

The concept of Trinity is an accepted tenet of Christianity. The concept is widely accepted among almost all groups of Christianity. It is supported by the Bible – normally accepted by all those groups of Christianity. Christians accepting this concept are lumped into the heading of Trinitarians.

The opposition to this concept is the doctrine of Arianism. This should not be confused with Aryanism – the racial theory behind the NAZI ethnic purity belief. Arianism stems from the teachings of Arius; a Christian living about A. D. 250-336. This belief teaches Jesus, called the Christ, was not a person of the God-head, but a created being. (The same teaching dismisses the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost in similar manner.)

The conflict between the Trinitarian and Arian or Non-Trinitarian faction of Christianity is long and detailed in various records. I shall not pursue it further other than to acknowledge the conflict.

The term ‘Trinity’ does not appear in the Bible. Not in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. It is a term later adopted by the aggregate followers of Christ to describe a number of concepts described in the Bible. This is seized upon by the non-trinitarian faction as ‘evidence’ supporting their position.

For clarity, the concept of the Trinity does NOT assert or imply more than One Single God. In actual fact, the Trinity states there is only One God. However, Trinitarians recognize God in Three “Persons”.
God the Father
God the Son
God the Holy Spirit (Ghost in the King James Version).

All three are God in God’s entirety; yet they are individual in perception and function to some degree. (I refer those who do not grasp this or find it contradictory to the modern physics problem of the photon’s nature; is the photon a particle or a wave form?)

I personally have a problem with the term ‘persons’. In modern English (which may be the problem) ‘persons’ implies three different beings, people or entities. Assuredly a superficial view agrees with this implication. (As is the case with Islam and many other of the non-trinitarian views on the subject.) But it is the accepted term and I’m not going to change it here. The usage has a long tradition behind it and probably no other word fits, either. “Facets” or “parts” are even more likely to imply separate existences.

Christians recognize the Bible – in its entirety – to be the message (‘word’) of God to mankind. Therefore, the entire Bible is to be considered in determining the validity of the Trinity. Any faction, denomination or sect refusing to accept the entirety of the Bible are suspect in terms of Christian adherence.

Starting with the Creation account recorded in Genesis, one finds:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning  God*  created the heavens and the earth.
This frequently used Hebrew word – God (אֱלֹהִים,’elohim ) is plural. When it refers to the one true God, the singular verb is normally used, as here. The plural use in Hebrew does NOT indicate either a committee of gods, or God and angels, nor does it indicate the Trinity. The plural form indicates majesty much the same as various secular Kings and Queens use the “royal ‘we’ “.

Then in Genesis 1:2 …but the Spirit of God* was moving over the surface of the water.
Yes, I did take only a selected part of the verse using the phrase “Spirit of God”. Those desiring to check, please read Genesis 1:2 in situ and note the meaning is not changed nor altered.
Spirit of God is a much discussed phrase. The word in Hebrew translated ‘spirit’ in many translations of the Bible, in Hebrew also can be translated ‘wind’ or ‘breath’. In some translations this phrase is translated into English as “wind from God” (the Jerusalem Publication Society in their 1985 translation of the Tanakh – the traditional Jewish rendering of what is termed the “Old Testament” in English language use Christianity – translates the phrase in this manner. But a footnote indicates other translations render the same phrase “Spirit of God”.) Of value in this difference of translation is to be seen in other parts of the Hebrew Tanakh where the same Hebrew word (transliterated ‘ruwach’) refers consistently to the divine spirit that empowers and energizes individuals (see Gen 41:38; Exod 31:3; 35:31; Num 24:2; 1 Sam 10:10; 11:6; 19:20, 23; Ezek 11:24; 2 Chr 15:1; 24:20).

Here now, there is a problem. In the first two verses of the Bible, “God” creates “…the heavens and the earth” (which is no stretch to consider the entire Universe), BUT, the “Spirit of God” is moving over the surface of the earth. The wording suggests, implies, two entities. But Christians and Jews at least superficially agree the God of Creation is One.

In Genesis 3:8, (please read the entire section, Genesis 3:8-19) the “Lord God” walks in the Garden with Adam and Eve. Not only does the “Lord God” walk, but He makes noise – evidenced by Adam and Eve hearing movement of the “Lord God”. A conversation (rather uncomfortable for Adam and Eve) transpires.

Which indicates God was present with Adam and Eve in a physical form. God uttered sounds – it seems – which registered on Adam and Eve as conversation and words.

This record of God is surely not the ‘Spirit of God’ mentioned other places in the Bible. Nor does it seem to be the Creator God who created the Universe.

Switch attention to John 4:23-24 Jesus, in speaking the Samaritan woman, tells her (23) But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. (24) God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The full account is from verse 4 to 24; at least verse 19-26 to avoid charges of taking the quotation out of context.

Jesus states God – the Father, the first Person of the Trinity – is a Spirit. Not physical. Which is problematic for those who claim God appears in person in various sections of the Old Testament. (See following.)

Genesis 32:24-30 recounts the incident of Jacob (son of Isaac, son of Abraham) ‘wrestling’ with “…a man”. The word in the text (verse 24) leaves no doubt; Jacob and ‘the man’ (as Jacob thought at the time) were in fact flopping about on the ground, pushing each other around and getting sweaty and dirty. When Jacob’s adversary in this decided to leave, ‘the man’ dislocated Jacob’s hip, putting Jacob out of serious action. But Jacob will not let go. Jacob refuses to allow ‘the man’ go free. Jacob demands a blessing.

‘The man’ tells Jacob his name (Jacob’s) name is changed to Israel. The name is a play on words in Hebrew and means – at least in one form – “Strives with God”. At this point, Jacob demands to know ‘the man’s’ name; One could interpret this question of Jacob as “Who (in the world) ARE you?”

‘The man’ refuses to give his name – other than the above- but does bless Jacob and leaves. Jacob names the place of the encounter “Penuel” literally meaning “Face of God”, and explained “Certainly I have seen God face to face and have survived.”

So either Jacob met God face to face (and hand to hand), or ‘the man’ lied to Jacob and Jacob was in error. Or the Bible was made up much later and fraudulent. Take your pick.

As a Christian, one must presume the Bible is correct and accurate in the records of what participants saw, did and understood.

However, this appearance of God does not agree with the appearance of God in Genesis 1:1. This was apparently a man. A human being. (The text gives no hint of Jacob wrestling and talking with anything else.) However, this cannot be the First Person of the Trinity according to Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of John.

This also applies to several other sections of the Old Testament. Specifically Judges 13, where the ‘messenger of the Lord’ appears to Manoah and wife. The messenger announces the birth of Samson (not yet identified by name) to the yet infertile couple. Later, Manoah tells his wife (Judges 13:22) “We will certainly die, because we have seen a supernatural being!” This verse is translated And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. This from the KJV. The word translated ‘God’ is ‘elohim’ and can be translated into English in various ways, all dealing with supernatural beings; most commonly “God”.

One is reminded of the statement made to Moses on the mountain in Exodus 33:20 “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.” Other passages that teach this are Deut 4:33, 5:24, 26; Judg 6:22, 13:22, and Isa 6:5. Manoah has the idea that he will die, having seen God.

Probably the over-riding teaching of the idea of the Trinity is Jesus claiming to be God. Either Jesus is telling the truth, or He is not.

If Jesus is telling the truth, the discussion is over.

If Jesus is not telling the truth, then Jesus is in the same category as those who claim to be Napoleon or a chocolate cream pie. Or the text is so contaminated by additions, edits and fabrications the whole fabric of Scripture is useless.

On a sidenote, but related, those who claim to worship God yet question the authenticity of the Bible are very curious. Claiming to believe in God, an Infinite, Omnipotent and Omniscient being and simultaneously thinking He fails or is incompetent to preserve His message to mankind is self-contradictory. Either God keeps what He claims to be His message as He intended, or He is less than omnipotent and omniscient.

John 10 (22-39) Jesus claims to be God. In a confrontation with the Jewish leaders, Jesus announces (verse 30) “…The Father and I  are one.” The NET has a foot note on this verse and word ‘one’ as follows: The phrase ἕν ἐσμεν ({en esmen) is a significant assertion with trinitarian implications. ἕν is neuter, not masculine, so the assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one “thing.” Identity of the two persons is not what is asserted, but essential unity (unity of essence). (Provided by bible.org)

This is NOT one single person, not the same person, not the same purpose or goal, but the same essence. To spell it out, the essence is Divinity.

In John 8:57-59 Jesus is hounded by the Judeans (Jewish people in Jerusalem at the time), challenging Jesus’ claim of elating Abraham by stating Jesus is too young; Jesus replies “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am! “ The term “I am” is a direct quote from Exodus 3:14 and is therefore Jesus statement He is God. If anyone doubts this, the next verse removes all doubt: Then they [the Judeans] picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out from the temple area.

The Judeans took Jesus’ statement as claim to Godhood and were going to stone Jesus for blasphemy. Please note Jesus ‘hid himself’, while speaking to a group of people who were in the process of stoning Him to death. Harry Houdini couldn’t do that without some preparation and equipment.

In Matthew 16 (verses 13 to 20) Jesus asks His disciples their opinion or belief as to Jesus’ true identity. Peter answered (verse 16) You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Rather than deny or correct Peter’s bold statement, Jesus tells Peter You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!

Note in Hebrew usage, the term “… son of …” was an idiomatic phrase meaning ‘the same as’ (similar to the modern English idiom of ‘chip off the old block’) and does not denote family or genetic relationship. The missionary and partner of Paul “Barnabas” means “son of Encouragement”. Not that Barnabas’ daddy was named ‘Encouragement’, but that Barnabas was a great encouragement to other Christians. When Peter identified Jesus as ‘Son of the Living God’ Peter is saying Jesus IS the Living God.

It is interesting to note that while Jesus is accepting Peter’s recognition of Jesus as God, Jesus is simultaneously speaking of ‘my Father’. Either Jesus has multiple personalities or Jesus is speaking of the Father as the First Person of the Trinity, with Jesus being the Second Person.

I leave out much. However, what I have presented here is enough information to show the reasoning behind the Trinitarian view of God.

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The Sinner’s Prayer

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard a disturbing sermon or exposition. The radio station and speaker will remain nameless – to protect the guilty, innocent or as yet undetermined. The main thrust of the message was the gospel being preached and taught in many churches was wrong. That what is commonly taught about salvation is inadequate and sometimes misleading.

That did pique my interest and I listened for the entire program. I am concerned enough to write this exposition.

I must confess, I’m not sure if the speaker is ill-advised, flat wrong or simply meandering in his thinking. Some points he made were valid and reasonable, others sounded fallacious and indefensible. However, I shall reserve my final judgement.

Yes. I do have judgement. I do get to judge teachings and doctrines of others. I am commanded by the Lord God of Armies to ‘judge’ spirits in 1st John 4:1. The word used in the text is translated ‘test’, but it means to “to make a critical examination of someth[ing,] to determine genuineness, put to the test, examine.” If that doesn’t mean ‘judge’, I’ll be switched.

The text in Matthew 7 (verses 1 to 7) reads
7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.1  7:2 For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. 2  7:3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 7:5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 7:6 Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.

Jesus in this passage is warning about criteria of judgement. Further He is talking about judging people, not issues, doctrine, logic or purported ‘facts’. So, when Jesus says in verse 2 the standard ‘we’ use to judge others will be the standard by which we are judged. Consider that Christians are judged in the light of mercy and forgiveness; should we judge other people without mercy?

On the other hand, First John 4:1-3 commands us – Christians – to ‘test the spirits’. In short, John, inspired by God to write this, is saying to double check anything that sounds contrary to Biblical teaching. This is why Christians do not put much stock in ‘reincarnation’ or ‘good luck charms’ or such. The teaching is contrary to the Bible message and discredits the power of God.

I don’t think it is out of line to read it as saying we are to analyze various sorts of claims – including sales pitches. I used two dabs of Brylcream for years and women NEVER chased me. (Which is not to say it didn’t work for keeping hair in place within reason.)

However, ‘judgement’ in terms of theology, doctrine and Christian dealings is not only allowed, but commanded.

“Gospel” is an interesting word. As most readers probably know, it comes from the Greek word “euaggelion” (pronounced ‘you-an-ghel-ee-on’ with a soft ‘g’ in the middle syllable; not like ‘hair gel’) and literally means ‘good news’. In the Greek, this could mean any good news, like “You got the raise” or “Our team won the playoff” or “Mother and child are doing well” and so forth.

In Christianity, the New Testament, it refers usually to the ‘good news’ of Salvation. Rather than me re-type it all, please go to BlueLetterBible.org; find the Strong’s Lexicon and check entry G2098.

What the speaker was attacking in the guise of poor gospel was specifically the evangelical concept of ‘The Sinner’s Prayer’. I have to admit, the attack has some merit; but it can be misleading.

The Sinner’s Prayer usually takes on some variation of the following:

“Lord, I admit I am a sinner. I know I cannot save myself from the eternal penalty for my sin and poor conduct. I know you sent your Son Jesus to die as a sacrifice for my sins. I accept the atonement of Jesus on my behalf and accept Your forgiveness. I will live according to your commandments to the best of my abilities and allow You to control my life.”

As mentioned, this is one variation, but it hits the high points. Some variations are shorter and some are longer and more detailed.

This usage has been attacked in the past few years as inadequate. Again, there is some merit to the attack. Yet the usage is not completely without effect or merit, either.

Here’s the explanation:

The Sinner’s Prayer is not, nor ever has been, promulgated as a “Magic Spell” which binds God to our will, or ‘forces’ God to save anyone from sin. Secondly, this approach seems to end the matter of the Christian life with salvation, only.

However, it does seem to be advertised that way at times. The impression one gets is that if anyone merely repeats these words, God is forced to act and all is well. Not ever spoken, but somewhat inferred is reciting this ‘spell’ is all that is required and one can go back to normal life – whatever that may be – and has a total and unrestricted ‘get out of jail – or hell – card’ for the remainder of one’s life. And, this is the goal and end of the matter.

This concept is simply not so.

The Sinner’s Prayer is also attacked in that it is not specifically recorded in the New Testament (or anywhere else in the Bible, for that matter.) This is correct, as far as it goes. No where is Jesus – or any of the other writers of the New Testament – recorded uttering these words. Nor do any of them suggest reciting a particular order of words (in any language) to secure forgiveness of sins. Of course, the composite ideas are espoused and with some repetition.

Just for the record, the term ‘Trinity’ does not appear, either. All Christian fellowships, denominations, groups, sects, sub-divisions and so forth concur on the triune nature of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The composite ideas are espoused and with some repetition.

So how does the Sinner’s Prayer work? It is the outline of an oral contract. Some object to the word ‘contract’. Too bad.

Presumably, the reader has heard the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” on occasion? Further presuming, the reader has heard the terms Old and New Covenant as well?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary (look on line, it’s easy to find) lists ‘testament’ as having an archaic (for example, A. D. 1611) meaning of “…a covenant between God and the human race”. Testament and Covenant both in this context mean “…a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement”. A compact. A contract.

Even though in the modern world we think of contracts as documents to be signed, current U. S. law – and the world in general – recognize oral contracts where both parties agree on a specific agreement.

The Sinner’s Prayer can – should – be used to outline a specific and binding agreement between an individual human being and Almighty God.

The individual human being – called the ‘sinner’ for brevity – agrees to depend upon God for life, both temporal and eternal. Further the sinner agrees to follow God’s will, commands and directions for the rest of his life.

God agrees to remove the guilt and penalty of sin from the sinner. God further agrees to remake the sinner into the ‘reflection’ (image) of God in this life and for eternity. God also promises not to impose a ‘breach of contract’ penalty upon the sinner.

So why the Sinner’s Prayer for this?

A quick review of the elements of the Sinner’s Prayer, as presented here.

“Lord, I admit I am a sinner.”
The simplest verse to justify this statement is Romans 3:23; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, this is merely a snippet and if anything, is rather understated. A couple verses prior, (verse 20 of the same passage) reads “For no one is declared righteous before him   by the works of the law…”
Romans 10:9-10 reads, “…because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10:10 For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.”
So, some declaration of the matter is recommended in the matter.

“I know I cannot save myself from the eternal penalty for my sin and poor conduct.”
See the above paragraphs. Note the passage in Romans 3 again. There is no declaration of righteousness other than by the Grace of God.

“I know you sent your Son Jesus to die as a sacrifice for my sins.”
One of the keystones of Christianity.
Romans 5:6 and following (entire paragraph): “5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.)  5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 5:9 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood,* we will be saved through him from God’s wrath.  5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? 5:11 Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.”
* “blood” is used here as a euphemism for death.

“I accept the atonement of Jesus on my behalf and accept Your forgiveness.”
This is the meaning of the word ‘believe’ in the New Testament. To rely upon and depend on the subject for what is needed. More than mere assent of existence, ‘belief’ includes acceptance and full dependence upon the subject of ‘belief’.

“I will live according to your commandments to the best of my abilities and allow You to control my life.”
First Corinthians 5:11-21 speaks of the ‘change’ concurrent with the transformation from non-believer to Christian. Christians are a ‘new creation’, yet there is a progression of the individual involved.

So, there is nothing in the Sinner’s Prayer which contradicts Jesus’ teaching or the doctrine of the New Testament.

The only potentially misleading concepts are two. One, it can be misinterpreted as a ‘magic spell’ which binds God to grant the speaker forgiveness. It is not. Second, it should never be presented in such a way to suggest this transaction – even as a binding, oral contract – is the end of the matter. This is the beginning of the Christian life and a transition to recreation in the image of God.

************************
The following is a bit of further explanation of some the issues involved herein. It is a bit random in organization, but are important in a general knowledge of the Bible fashion.

In the NET Bible website search function, I find twenty-eight pages of Bible references using the word ‘saved’. I counted a random page and found twenty verses using the word ‘saved’. That is 560 verses (more or less). In the words of a famous television commercial from a number of years ago, “I think I’m going to need a bigger box.”

The verses range from Genesis to Revelation. Some verses refer to physical salvation – as in “…saved us from the Philistines…”. Many refer to spiritual salvation and quite a few have double meanings – both physical and spiritual. Obviously I didn’t use all of them in this essay. Hopefully I’ve hit the main points.

The NET.Bible website also shows this definition:
Webster’s
SA’VED, pp. Preserved from evil; injury or destruction; kept frugally; prevented; spared; taken in time.

A favorite text of those who seek to impose greater restrictions on Christians is in Matthew 7, verses 21 to 23.

“21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’

These are the words of Jesus indeed. However, they aren’t as vague as some suggest. Look at the actual wording; those denied are all claiming to have done things in their own power. “…didn’t WE …” do this or that. Nor do any of those herein denied come to the Lord and say, “I gave You my allegiance and obedience. I trusted Your death and resurrection for my forgiveness.” This seems to be the key to the unspoken lesson of the passage.

None of this is to say prophesy and demon casting are NOT important. However, the only important work in Christianity is that work which is individually directed and empowered by God.

Another aside.
The words ‘belief’ (noun) or ‘believe’ (verb) and the word ‘faith’ (noun or verb depending on usage) are rather weak words in the modern English language. They were stronger words in Greek usage of Jesus’ day.

All to often, the term ‘believe’ is equated with ‘casual opinion’. Something like “I believe Jingles will win the third race at Hialeah today.” A closer meaning is “I believe I’ll have another beer”. The latter suggests a certainty of and intent of action which is a bit stronger than mere opinion or whim.

Strong’s Lexicon shows the Greek word to be G4100 pisteuo, (pes-too-oh). Strong’s reports as meaning:

To think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in [a ‘thing’ either physical or intellectual] in general life.
When used in a moral or religious reference:
* used in the New Testament of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith
mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith.
This last alternative is used as a comparison to the ‘belief’ which is steadfast.

Likewise the word ‘faith’ does not in the Greek signify ‘wishful thinking’. There are two words in Greek translated ‘faith’ in the KJV and can be misleading.

The stronger word is G4102 pistis (pis-tis). It is linguistically connected to G4100 (above) and is similar in meaning. “Conviction of the truth…”
The weaker Greek word is G3640 oligopistos (ah-lee-gawp-ess-toss) and refers to ‘little faith’ or something akin to wishful thinking or a neutral acceptance, not amounting to full support.

One should also note that both ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are much like strength and ability. They all come in degrees or levels. All of these concepts grow over time and use. The more pushups one does, the stronger one’s arms and shoulders become. The more one knows and relies on God, the stronger belief grows.

End of aside regarding faith and belief.

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Can a Christian be Happy?

I thank a fellow Christian and blogger for the title and basic thought of this essay. My thanks and blessings to Kristeen Nicole Gillooly at https://kristeennicolegillooly.wordpress.com

She can’t help being good at what she does; she has a Celtic surname.

The title was originally Can You Be Happy if You are Not a Christian? In my mind this brings up other associated questions, like “Is a Christian Happier Than a non-Christian?” or possibly even “Does Christianity Make One Happier?”

My considered answer, after some sixty-five years of life, fifty-four years ‘officially’ a Christian, is “It depends. What do you mean by ‘happy’?”

I must be a philosopher; I answer every question with a question. Either that or an incipient politician. (Lord forgive me!) Or perhaps just a dedicated jerk.

The key to the answer is ‘What is Happiness?’

Your humble correspondent finds that virtually no one (believer or non-believer) is ‘happy’. Everyone (non-believer and believer) is beset with the idea of ‘something is missing’. Everyone thinks they are not quite pretty or handsome enough. No one has quite enough money. People think their butt is too big or too small. I’m not tall enough and she’s too tall. Either I’m too drunk or too sober. I trust the reader gets the point – I’m getting weary of belaboring the concept.

Most people think that the key to happiness is attaining what they think they lack. Oftentimes this comes in the form of bits of special fabric with green lettering and pictures of past Presidents on the front. However, even those with vast quantities of funds do not particularly exhibit the characteristics of ‘happiness’. The late Howard Hughes was rich beyond most of our dreams of avarice; he died a hermit, afraid to venture forth from his apartment.

I recommend the Biblical book of “Ecclesiastes”. Written by Solomon, King of Israel and arguably the richest man in the history of the world. It is a personal account of his search for happiness. I will not fully repeat it here, but he tells of chasing wealth, knowledge, women and fame. In the end, he says it is all ‘vanity’; a King James era English word used as the translation of the Hebrew ‘hebel’ (pronounced ‘heh-VEL’). In Hebrew, the word literally means ‘vapor’. So it’s air. Nothing in the vernacular. One of the meanings of the English word ‘vain’ is useless or without effect.

Gentle readers, no one is really happy. Not as adults, at least. When we were kids we were probably happier. When we were young enough not to know. For most of us, we had a place to live, clothing and enough to eat. Someone else paid the bills. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we had pretty much what we needed and we played and we were happy. Except maybe for baths and when we broke something.

I once knew an adult who was generally happy. I mean really happy. Everything to him was new and fresh and neat. He had a serious mental deficiency. But he was probably the happiest fellow I ever met. Much happier than me at the least. That strikes me as a high price to pay for happiness, though.

People who are not believers can attain a level of satisfaction in life. However, there is always something ‘not quite there’ remaining. An unseen desire, an unthought thought. C. S. Lewis talks about this and I’m sure correctly diagnoses the problem as a lack of God. Please don’t think this is criticism; it is merely an observation of the human condition. The illustration of the ‘God shaped hole’ keeps returning. We all have a void in our soul – that inner part of us which shapes and becomes our mind in the sense of character, ego and moral fiber. It was made when mankind rebelled against God in the beginning. We are all aware of the lack, even if we don’t know exactly what it is or why it’s there.

Christians also have the void. Except, being with Christ, we have some mitigation of the ‘lack’ awareness. It is not that God has fully entered us and there is no lack, no void awareness; but rather that God partially fills it – AND we have the positive expectation that it will be properly and fully filled when we meet Him in Heaven. Christians know – at least should know – why we have that unsettled feeling of lack or waiting for something.

So, are Christians happy in the sense that ‘anyone in the world’ would recognize? Probably not. However, Christians who understand the relationship (not fully understand, but basically understand) between God and us as individuals have a certain ‘contentment’ that does no attach from conditions. Yes, Christians are happy in the sense of contentment; which may or probably may not be discernible to non-believers. Again, this is not a judgment or nasty comment; it is merely the statement that non-believers judge success or happiness by a different standard. That non-believers do not understand Christian standards is not a slam either, the statement only reflects a non-believer cannot understand that which has never been exposed to them.

One last word to Christians who are not happy and unsure they ever will be.

Full happiness, that knowledge the ‘hole is finally filled’ and the unspoken desire is fulfilled will only come when we receive our final reward and enter eternity. If one is without the ‘contentment’ of blessings to come, do not panic! The contentment part is much like prayer and push-ups. It comes with practicing with God and the effects are not instant, but cumulative.

Don’t Panic! God has you.

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Questions about God

Thomas Didymus is popularly known as Thomas the Doubter. I find this somewhat misleading, as the term implies a refusal to believe and a confrontative attitude.

Thomas is ‘famous’ for his demand to see the Risen Christ prior to believing. In fact, Thomas’ refusal to believe based on the word of others was well-founded and completely reasonable. After all, Jesus had died at the hands of Roman Army executioners. People did not ‘come back’ to life by their own volition.

Thomas asked the question any normal person in his position would have asked; but been afraid to ask. I find the same courage and honesty in this writer’s questions – in response to the question: “…what is one thing you would like to know about God?” The writer thought of several things about God to know.

Being the bashful, retiring sort, I thought I’d give answering them a shot. The answers here are based on statements and concepts from the Bible and I’ve tried to support the answers by references.

 

1.  What is God’s gender?

The most definitive statement in the Bible is that of Jesus who said “God is Spirit” in John 4:24. A second definitive statement is Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a human being, that He should change His mind.”

Combine that thought with the creation of mankind in Genesis 1:27, “God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them”. Note that both male and female were created in God’s image.

Therefore: God is inclusive of the basis for both male and female, while being limited to neither. Yes, this somewhat breaks with ‘tradition’.

God is traditionally viewed as ‘male’. Historically, men have been the engineers and builders. Warriors and protectors have been thought of as men. That and the deep down ‘male chauvinist pig gene’ – which I have and bear proudly, by the way – tend to push the image of God as a ‘male’.

On the other hand, God is also described as ‘feeding and nurturing the children’

Psalm 116:5 “… our God is compassionate.” Compassion is a ‘soft’, more feminine trait than building or fighting.

Jesus in Matthew 23 and Luke 13 speaks of “… gathering children as a hen gathers chicks …” a rather female reference.

So I would say that while God includes both masculine and feminine attributes, God is ‘above’ such limits. He is not a combination, but something greater than either.

So why does the Bible always refer to God as ‘He’? Both Hebrew and English – and I think Greek – used the male pronoun as the default applying to both men and women in a group or in the instance of an unknown or undefined person. This concept predates both political correctness and women’s liberation.

Since God (the Father) is – strictly speaking – neither male nor female, language might suggest referring to God as ‘It’. But ‘It’ doesn’t sound all that respectful. Aside from that, the Bible describes God as thinking and talking and interacting with humans; ‘It’ is really lacking for such a being.

God the Son – Jesus – is a man. So He said, anyway.

God the Spirit? We’re back to not having a body.

 

2. Can God taste food? What are His favorites?

I cannot find any direct references on the subject.  Not having a body, He probably doesn’t eat much.  However, since God created all things, including the concepts of ‘taste’ and ‘flavor’; and since God enabled mankind to taste and enjoy food, I find it difficult to believe God has no clue about the matter.

Surely Jesus – who is God, never forget – was human (totally human and totally God all at once), Jesus could taste food. So as a practical consideration, yes, God can taste food.

What are His favorites? Deuteronomy 10:17 reads “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased…” Okay, that’s a bit out of context. God is ‘unbiased’ toward people and issues.

My suspicion is God has a vastly varied palate. He even likes durien fruit and Brussels Sprouts. I’m pretty sure He likes fillet mignon and pizza as well.  I’m pretty sure chocolate has to be on the list. Probably lentils with proper spices. Red meat.

We will have to ask Him when we get there. I’m sure the answer will be a delightful surprise.

 

3. What the differences between the Garden of Eden, Heaven and the New Earth? What kinds of things are/were in each place? What has He planned for us there?

This is not really, definitely known. The Bible does list some comments, I find the answer to be incomplete, but promising.

The Garden of Eden was the place where humans were first located. They had direct communication with God. Genesis chapter three indicates God Himself showed up and had a chat with Adam and Eve. In my mind, this seems to be God in human form, or Christ. Not everyone agrees with this.

The Garden was a neat place. It seems that while Adam had ‘duties’ to perform, they were not onerous. It was not until the Lord cast humans out of the Garden did Adam have to earn his way by ‘sweat’.

Traditionally, the Garden of Eden was a place which was ‘on Earth’ and certain information is given to locate the area. This much time later, it does not seem locatable. There is a theory wherein all the Earth is the Garden, and man’s Fall changed the nature of the planet. Frankly, I don’t know and I don’t think anyone else does, either.

Heaven is God’s abode. From what we read, Heaven seems to be in Eternity and therefore doesn’t have ‘time’ – at least not in the same way we humans experience it. It seems God has always been in Heaven, which indicates to me that Heaven is a direct result of God’s presence. Nothing – at least not that we understand – has an existence apart from God. Therefore, Heaven is not the ‘home of God’ in the same way Mount Olympus or Asgard is seen as the home of the respective gods. Heaven does not pre-date God.

The New Earth is – in my understanding – what Earth was supposed to be in the first place,except in some manner not subject to decay as the current one is.  Before, that is, mankind rebelled against God and fouled up the whole shebang. (That’s a technical word.) I don’t know what exactly it will be, but everyone there will like it and enjoy it. Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand the concept. I think learning about it will be part of the ‘fun’ – for lack of a better word. No is there any requirement to fully comprehend the concept in order to gain entry. It comes with being one of God’s children.

Ask me again in 200 years. I’ll have a better answer.

 

4. Did we have some sort of life before we were born?

Not likely.  There is no evidence for it in the Bible. Many of the Eastern religions and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) teach such.

The first chapter of Jeremiah records God’s recruitment of Jeremiah. Verse 5 says:

“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you.
Before you were born I set you apart.
I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

There are those who want to claim this indicates a ‘pre-world’ life. I think it merely indicates God knows the future and has a plan for all time already in action.  The only ‘pre-birth’ record given is in the womb, not in a past ‘existence’.

The only thing about pre-birth is the comment the Lord made to Jeremiah in chapter 1:5 “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you.
Before you were born I set you apart.
I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

 

5. Is He bigger than all of his creations… all of the galaxies, stars etc?

In short, yes. Of course, part of the question begs the further question, What means ‘bigger’? God is spirit, so He does not have a physical body larger than the Universe. However, his ‘authority’ and power is what created the Universe, so His ‘authority’ and power encompass all the Universe and everything included.

Also, part of the beliefs about God is His ‘omnipresence’. God is ‘everywhere’ at once. Not that God is ‘everything’ or ‘in everything’, but simply all of His creation is within His vision and comprehension – and that includes not just every where, but every when.

 

6. Has He created any other planets with humans?

Not discussed in the Bible. There have been some who – since it isn’t explicitly spelled out – conclude there is none.  Then again, the Bible doesn’t mention China (either mainland or Taiwan) or the United States, either.  I am of the opinion that ‘not mentioned’ means ‘not important enough to tell you all right now’.

By ‘humans’, I presume you are also including the possibility of other sentient beings, not limited to bipedal, carbon-based life forms with symmetrical bodies, hair, toe-nails and body odor with whom we can breed?

If so, I think the possibility is great such does exist somewhere in the Universe. The Galaxy is a big place. “Billions and billions” of stars and no doubt a few planets like ours. The Universe makes the Galaxy look teeny-tiny.

That’s not a guarantee there are other sentient species out there, just my suspicion there possibly are some.  Not logically impossible.

 

7. Does He get bored watching us?

No. God is infinite and perfect. Meaning complete and self-sufficient. Also consider God has existed forever and will continue to exist forever. Compared to infinity, the several thousand or several billion years humans exist – depending on which view of creation and history one assumes – isn’t much time to bore God.  Disgusted, perhaps.  It’s all ‘right now’ as far as He’s concerned.

 

8. I want to know if all of history is happening all at once, and if our prayers have the power to change the past?

Wow! That’s a blast.  I’ve wondered the same thing. I don’t know for sure.

‘History’ happens to us bit by bit. At least it does to me. On the other hand, God sees all of the existence of the Universe as ‘right now’. God exists not only ‘everywhere’ but ‘every when’ as well.

Can our prayers change the past? Who knows? If God changed the past at our request, that would then be ‘our past’. We’d never know if it were changed.

On that subject: God is the ultimate authority. There is no Cosmic Supreme Court that over-rules God. So there is no ‘time-keeper’ apart from God to rule on which view is the ‘real perspective’.

Nor am I convinced our prayers change God’s mind as to what happens. I’m sure He’s much more concerned about our obedience and surrender to His Will, which INCLUDES our love and concern for others. In other words, God is more pleased to hear us praying for the welfare and eternal benefit of another than He to hear us praying for a new bicycle or even keeping the dam from breaking. Prayer is a mechanism for us to talk with (including hear from) God more than to submit requests or tell Him how to run His universe.

 

9. Does God pass our prayers along to the deceased?

If you mean that ‘Say “Hi” to Mom for me’ sort of thing, I think so. But I think we’re missing the point here. As far back as Dante’s The Divine Comedy and probably before, people have the rather self-centered notion that people in Heaven – or Hell – have nothing better to do than to watch Earth and keep track of what us ‘living’ humans are doing. I rather suspect those in Heaven are so far more ‘alive’ than those of us here they are rather busy with the joy of Heaven. They are in Eternity, we will be along – presumably – in just a moment from their perspective, so there’s no point in writing or even getting out the cell phone, if you understand. People in Hell are cut off from all communication by their own desire. No point in sending signals.

If you mean the “Send Uncle Cletus down to watch over my dog while I’m on vacation” sort of prayers, I don’t think so.

 

10. Does He loves our pets the way we do?

Since God loves us better than we love our pets – or family or spouse or anyone – I expect so.

 

11. Can He can talk to animals? Do they (animals I presume) share some sort of language? Do animals have a language (the snake talked in the Garden of Eden didn’t it?).

Better than Doctor Doolittle.

From all the animal research you humans do, they seem to. And yes, the snake (actually ‘serpent’) spoke. I’m not sure what that means in dog years, but the serpent was able to communicate on a fairly sophisticated level and convince Eve to rebel against God’s direct command. The rat! I mean, serpent.  (Nasty, egg-sucking thing.)  Yes, the snake did.

 

12. Does He see women as inferior to men, and in that case, why did he make me a woman?

No. ‘Different’ does not mean ‘inferior’. Women were created directly in God’s image, noted above in question one.  So, no, I don’t think so. Do you feel inferior somehow?

There is a whole long discussion about the roles of ‘male’ and ‘female’ and it’s too much to type here. The short version is both men and women have functions and one cannot absolutely and permanent replace the other. Men are better – in general – in upper body strength, and women are better – in general – in small motor skills; just as example.  Aside from that, it takes both sexes to reproduce.

God made you a woman because you’re much prettier than I am.  Okay. I do not know why God decided I’d be a man and you would be a woman. I do know God knows what He is about and makes no mistakes. If God were fallible, He would not be God.

13. Why doesn’t He follow people around with a booming voice like he did in the Garden of Eden and as a result have every person in this world aware of his presence, and more likely to become a Christian and end up in heaven with him.

Exodus 33:3 reads Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way. He might ‘stay away’ from us for OUR protection.

If you’ll notice, God following people around in the Garden of Eden with a booming voice did NOT stop people from sinning. In fact, when Adam and Eve heard the ‘booming voice’ they ran and hid.

Instead of preventing people from rebellion – sin, in a word – against Him based on fear essentially [Let’s NOT hack off the booming voice!], God arranged forgiveness based on His grace and love. In that way, everyone and not just the ones who were terrified of the booming voice could be in a proper relationship with God.

Also note the wording at the end of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:31): If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. In other words, no amount of ‘booming voice’ will keep people from rejecting God’s commands.

Looking about, it seems that only a minority of people choose to accept God’s grace and love. But NOBODY fears the booming voice.

 

14. Why did He order the rape/death of women and children in the bible, and what are His eternal plan for those people? I want to know that those children are safe.

This IS one of those sticky  and popular questions, but the question suffers from more than one misconception. God did NOT ‘invent’ rape and murder. Rape and murder are expressly forbidden by God. Rape and murder came about because people ignored God and did what they wanted, rather that follow God’s commandments. People in general decided obeying God was exactly what they did NOT want to do; they ate the apple, raped the women and killed the children. All in violation of God’s express will.

No where did God order His people to rape anyone. (It happened, but God didn’t order it.) In the place God tells His people to ‘take the women’ of conquered peoples – and it only happened once, in Judges 21 – they were taken permanently as wives. This isn’t ‘rape’ in the normal sense; this was an authorization to marry without obtaining permission from the woman’s father.

If you remember any other place that concerns you, tell me and I’ll look it up.

During the Canaan conquest, the nation of Israel was commanded to kill off many of the local population. There were two reasons for that action. One was the local people in Canaan were idolators and vile behaving people toward others. This was God’s punishment on them for the hideous life styles they had lived. Some of their achievements were sacrificing children by burning them alive (these were their OWN children, by the way). They developed the method of torture execution of skinning people alive – a real crowd pleaser.

The second reason was God didn’t want the nation of Israel to ‘mix’ with the locals. They had enough bad habits of their own and didn’t need to pick up any more bad habits.

Consider this: Death is not the ultimate end. Death is certainly not the worst that can happen to a human being. I’d rather be killed than a traitor to either God, country or friends. I’d rather be killed than a coward. I’d rather be killed than be one who uses others without consideration for them.  Dying and going to Hell because one rejects God is far worse than just dying.

What is the ‘eternal plan’? I know that God is a God of love, justice, morals and far-thinking. I know He is fair and just. Honest, too, or He’d have covered up anything nasty or nasty sounding. 2nd Peter 3:9 … because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. The term ‘perish’ here refers to eternal punishment in Hell, not mere physical death. (We’re ALL going to die physically.) Are those children ‘safe’? They are in God’s hands. I cannot guarantee anything, but I’d bet they are safer with God than they are being raised by Pagans.  Without the knowledge of sin and law, the law has no penalty. Romans 5:13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law.

Now, before any slack-jawed, under-witted, dim-bulb asks if it’s okay for them to kill children in order to ‘save’ them, I have two questions: One. Did God specifically instruct you to kill those children? Two. Does the laws of your state or locality recognize such commands as a defense to First Degree Murder?

15. What does He really think about gay people and abortion? Are we are blowing either issue out of proportion? Why is being gay wrong, and is it really a moral issue.

Homosexuality is prohibited in both Old and New Testament.
Leviticus 18:22 You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman;  it is a detestable act.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves.

1st Timothy 1:9 …realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

1st Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals 6:10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Be in no doubt. The ‘practice’ of homosexuality is forbidden. According to Paul – who wrote the epistles of Timothy and Corinthians – just like all the other categories and specifics of sin mentioned. By the way, the terms ‘liars, perjurers, verbally abuse’ can easily include ‘gossips’. Yeah; gossips are in the same group as ‘practicing homosexuals’. Not to mention adulterers.

But see what Paul says next in – (follows from the 1st Corinthians 6:9 verse above) –

1st Corinthians 6:11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  So no one is ‘stuck’ in such a lifestyle.

Read in context, both the law of Moses and the Christian ‘commands’ about homosexuality both speak more about the ‘actions’ than the people involved. One also notes the penalty is the same for both homosexual relations and fornication – heterosexual relations.

Why is being ‘gay’ wrong? One can say with certainty it is wrong; less sure is the reasoning behind it. The best understanding I have of the matter is this; it violates the basic rules on how things work. The act of homosexual ‘sex’ in essence mocks the concept of procreation inherent in sex. Much in the same way as fornication (between heterosexual partners). It reduces the sex act to entertainment with no further purpose.  I’ve pointed out to some non-believers it is an evolutionary dead end. (Nothing in this sort of thing to ensure survival of the species.) If nothing else, it is expressly forbidden.

So what does God think of homosexuals? God wants them to have a relationship with Him; to be cleaned of ALL sin – just like everyone else – and be included in Eternity with the redeemed.  Homosexuals are not singled out. Not only that, but the escape clause is published. (Verse 11.)   Just like everyone else, they are encouraged rather than welcome to come to Jesus, confess their rebellion, ask for forgiveness and submit to God’s will. (Not mine, not yours, not some televangelist.)

Are we blowing the problem out of proportion? When we put homosexuality in a ‘special category’ and declare they are fully out of God’s reach and never to be forgiven, yes, we are. Should we just ignore it and bring unrepentant people of any persuasion into the fellowship and ignore what God says about it? No.

The difficulty is this: Most of the homosexual people I know – several, by the way – do not see what they do as ‘sinful’. Without a knowledge or consciousness of sin, one has nothing to repent. That’s a real deal breaker. Still, I don’t see any value in grabbing such a person by the ears and screaming ‘sinner’ in their face until it makes sense to him or her. I tend to pray that my lost friends will come to realize their need for God – I’ll let God handle the details.

 

Abortion is merely a special form of murder. It is the modern equivalent of sacrificing children to Molech. Instead of sacrificing to Molech, people are sacrificing to convenience, pleasure, and self-gratification.

That abortion is ‘legal’ is immaterial. There are things God will not countenance, laws or no laws. The argument about ‘my own body’ is absurd. The child’s body is not theirs. The child is a separate person, not a parasite or symbiote or growth.

Some lackwit wanted to argue a short while ago that abortion was ‘good’, in that the child went to Heaven.  So what? The eternal destiny of the child is NOT the question; the question is the action of the murderer.

Like homosexuality, it is difficult which which to deal. Any approach that dumps guilt on the head of the mother to be – or not be – is probably abusive. The only approach is that in which God deals with the people involved – all the people involved – and brings about a difference in view and values.

Abstaining from the sorts of activities which result in ‘unexpected pregnancies’ is a good practice for anyone who might be involved. If that was too subtle, I mean men as well. It takes two to tango, so to speak; a man who sires a child under any circumstances is part of the equation – or problem.

Also like homosexuality, God forgives those who repent and seek forgiveness. This includes the woman who survives the ordeal; the man who sires the child; and the abortionist and his/her accomplices. I will say this, it takes some serious love, commitment and sensitivity to deal with the aftermath. And there is NO point in kicking people who are down already.

 

I had trouble thinking of stuff that was directly related to God because it’s hard to think of him as a person.
I understand. God isn’t ‘just some person’. On the other hand, we are created in His image, so He’s not like a hyper-intelligent slime mold who communicates by changing colors.

God sent humanity a book with a self-introduction and instructions.  He sends preachers and teachers to explain Himself.  God is not hiding.  And He welcomes questions; but He expects the questioners to want answers.

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Smuggler

As has been mentioned casually, your humble servant worked for twenty-two years as a uniformed officer of the U. S. Customs Service – and after a governmental re-organization, the U. S. Customs and Border Protection agency.  Part of my duties were to seek out, detect, seize merchandise – including contraband – imported contrary to law and apprehend those responsible.

Obviously I looked for smugglers.

I cannot remember the date anymore.  I should have noted the date and time, but I didn’t.  I remember it was after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  That makes it post 1991 at least.  But it was in the early 90’s as I recall.  It’s been a while.

I was working the day shift at the Port of Entry at Los Angeles World Airport in the Bradley Building.  I had a job ‘floating’, that is, moving from arriving flight to arriving flight, observing and questioning passengers to determine if any required further attention.  Not a serious morning; as I recall most of the flights were from Europe and nothing of consequence.

One young man was approaching and I approached him, asking for his passport and Customs form.  He had it very handy and presented them with a cheerful smile.  I asked him his business and he told me he was a representative of “Open Doors”.  My lightening fast brain started whirring as the memories in my head bubbled forth.  Okay, it might have been a squeal instead of a whir, a minor amount of smoke and one memory fell out of my ear.  But it was a good one.

“You’re one of the smugglers!”  I said with my winning smile.

The young man looked slightly ‘stricken’ for just a moment, then remembered where he was and the smile returned.  “Yes”, he said, shaking my outstretched hand and warming up, “We are.”

I asked the obvious question, “Is he here today?”  My interviewee immediately said, “Oh, yes…” looking about he said, “He’s over there by the front of the [examination belt], heading for the door.”  Oddly, he didn’t point; one acquires habits like that.

I looked where the gentleman directed and saw a very ordinary looking man in a business suit walking purposely toward the exit.  Without breaking stride, he turned and waved.  He knew someone was looking at him.

The man in question is  now identified as Andrew van der Bijl.  However, for many years – I first found out about him in the late 1960s, he worked under an the alias of ‘Brother Andrew’.  I was not then, nor am I now surprised when he made me in the Customs hall.  He was and is the most successful smuggler in the modern world.  (Possibly in the ancient world as well; such things are hard to evaluate.)  For over thirty years – closer to forty – Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into Communist block countries and delivered to trusted Christian contacts.  He was never caught.

He’s still in the business, by the way.  Check out the website  – http://www.opendoors.org/ – for current details.  He co-wrote an autobiography in the middle 1960’s called God’s Smuggler, detailing his youth and career.  It reads like a James Bond novel, except no one gets killed and he doesn’t sleep with any women, let alone three or four.

Once, I was about thirty-five feet from shaking hands with Brother Andrew and I missed him.  I don’t feel too bad, the Soviets couldn’t get him in nearly forty years.

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