Where Are You Building?

I’m doing a lot of running around today, getting things done before vacation.  One of those things was to get a haircut.

Turned out that the gal who cuts my hair had just gotten back from her vacation.  She was telling me about it and showed me some pictures on her iphone.  She told me about this mansion she and her family had visited in NC and about their visit to the Titanic Museum.

This “house” – she showed me a picture of it as well – 250 rooms(!).  Wasn’t finished until after his death, but his wife knew how he wanted it and finished it.  A gorgeous place, with spectacular view of the mountains in the distance.

I couldn’t help wondering where those folks who built the house were now.  What did they “live” in now?  Was it worth it?

Ah, friends and visitors to the blog.  Beyond a certain point, it doesn’t matter what kind of a house you live in now.  Where are you “building” for eternity?

What is your hope for the future?  Are you looking to what you can do, or be?  There’s only ever been one who could, in and of Himself, “prepare” for death.  For what lies beyond it.

He told His disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them, where He and they could live forever.

Are you one of those who will be with them?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

My one and only original parenting tip

I think this is a really great post, and a really great idea!!

bronwyn's corner

A beautiful smiling baby wrapped in a furry green blanket

I am something of a mommy magpie: I keep a beady eye out for excellent mommy tricks, and when I see a shiny-mommy-skill, I nab it.

I confess to nabbing all sorts of tips to put in my mommy-bag-of-tricks: I thieve tips from online mamas, friend mamas, my own mama, stranger-in-the-park mamas, literary mamas. And Claire Huxtable. She gets her own category.

My mama-toolbelt is stuffed with pilfered mommy tricks, all nicked from other clever mamas. Except for one mama trick, which yours truly stumbled on all by myself. It has become one of the most used weapons in my maternal armory. I call it the “how many kisses” tool. It works particularly well for the 2-6 age group, and is useful for any of those situations where there are preschooler tears for not-so-serious injuries (they are called “owies” in our family)

Here is how it works: wailing toddler runs…

View original post 368 more words

Hebrews 6:4-6: Putting Christ To An Open Shame

[This is the third of 3 projected posts]

In the first post, we saw that, in the phrase if they fall away, the writer wasn’t teaching that Christians could lose their salvation.

In the second post, we saw that the context of Hebrews 6:4-6 deals with the idea that the Christian life is just that: life, and, as such, has the expectation of growth and development into maturity.

There is much more that could be said about these verses.  For instance, even though Christians truly saved cannot lose their salvation, there are many, not truly saved, who do leave “the faith.”  This is evidence they were never saved to begin with, cf. 1 John 2:19.  The writer does have a little to say about them in Hebrews 6:7, 8.

That, however, isn’t the subject for this post.  It’s found in the last part of v. 6.

Thinking about it, I’m not sure that I even know how to write about this idea that the death of Christ on the Cross could somehow be turned into something that shames Him.

But that’s what the writer says – and why it is impossible to be saved a “second” time, …or a third, …or a fourth, because

they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” 

“Put Him to shame,” because one for whom He died, and whom, it is said, He saved through faith, is, nevertheless, lost.  In other words, He failed.

How could this even be considered as a possibility?

It seems to me that even the idea that one could lose his or her salvation, let alone any such thing actually happening – even the very idea that anyone could lose their salvation is highly dishonoring to our Lord and puts Him to an open shame.

Hebrews 6:4-6: A Different View

[Post 2 of three projected posts]

In our first post, we looked at the idea that these verses teach that one can lose his or her salvation.  This view is based on the words, “if they fall away,” which is taken to mean that one who is truly saved, can “fall away” and ultimately be lost.  I had a Boston Church of Christ elder tell me that he believed that one could be a child of God and be in hell at the same time.

We examined that view.  However, those verses clearly state that if one could lose salvation, he or she could not be saved again.  Such a thing is impossible.

Well, then, if the writer wasn’t teaching the loss of salvation truly had, what was he teaching?

In the study of any Scripture, there are three things to keep in mind:
1.  context.
2.  context.
3.  context.

Kind of like the old saying that the three important things in real estate are location, location, location.

However, this is much more serious than that somewhat light-hearted, though often true, statement.

There really are three things to consider in “context.”

1.  What does the verse actually say?
This probably has more to do with “content,” but still is in the context of what the verse actually says.  We saw that in the first post.

2.  What does the surrounding context say?
That is, what do the verses around a particular verse say.  What does the paragraph or chapter say?  On this, remember that verse, paragraph and chapter divisions are not “inspired” by the Holy Spirit.  While perhaps making the study of Scripture “easier,” they often obscure the meaning because they break up the writer’s thought in ways that it shouldn’t be broken up.

3.  What does the Bible itself say?
That is, what is the teaching of the entire Bible on a given subject?  One or two verses on any subject cannot and do not give us a complete understanding of that subject.  John 3:16 isn’t all the Bible says about the love of God.  Ephesians 1:4 isn’t all the Bible says about election.  Acts 2:38 isn’t all the Bible says about baptism.  Acts 2:4 isn’t all the Bible says about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and tongues.  Matthew 7:1 isn’t all the Bible says about “judging”.  Etc., etc.


What is the “context” of Hebrews 6:4-6?

Though it’s recipients aren’t named, it’s apparent that the book was written to Jewish Christians, who would have understood all the Old Testament references in the book.  These Hebrew believers were apparently suffering persecution because of their faith.  The Temple was still standing in Jerusalem and the sacrificial system was still being followed.  These believers were being tempted to desert Christ and go back to their old religion, to the old way of doing things.

The Book of Hebrews warns them not to do that.

Further, in 5:11 (NKJV), the writer sort of scolds them for not having matured to the point where he could teach them some things hard to explain.  He told them that they really needed to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God, v. 12, though they had been saved long enough that, he wrote, by this time you ought to be teachers, v. 12.

“First principles” are those things which a person just saved or just coming to salvation begins to understand.

However, the writer doesn’t take them back to those things.  In 6:1, he begins …leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection [maturity], NOT LAYING AGAIN THE FOUNDATION OF REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS AND OF FAITH TOWARD GOD [emphasis added].

In other words, he doesn’t take them back to the point of their first being saved.  He wants them to “go on,” not “start over.”


in v. 3, he makes a startling statement: and this we will do if God permits.

A lot of people seem to treat salvation kind of like a hat.  You put it on and if the wind blows it off, you just retrieve it and put it back on.  So, they “get saved” and if they “lose” it, they’ll just “get saved again.”  However, the salvation of our souls is a lot more serious than that.  Our “advancement” in the things of God, even our very entrance into them, is in the hands of God.  It’s not something to be thought of lightly or taken for granted.

You see, salvation is indeed “of grace,” so that no one need despair.  However, It is of “sovereign grace,” so that no one dare presume.


v.4, For it is impossible….

The reason the writer didn’t “take them back” is because that’s impossible.  There is no “redo” in salvation.  There is only “forward”.

Our Lord spoke of the new birth.  Both testaments say that the just shall live by faith, Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17.  But life is more than just about “birth,” though that’s obviously essential.  My wife and I are looking forward, next Tuesday, Lord willing, to flying to Montana to meet our new granddaughter, who has just been born.  We’ll also see her big brother, whom we have met.  But he won’t be just a new baby.  He’s about three years old.  He’s grown.

Our other grandchildren were once just babies.  But now two of the boys are teenagers and the others aren’t far behind.  I kid my daughter that in 10 years or so, she can look forward to being a grandmother. 🙂  I hope mom and I are still around to see that.

They’ve all grown.




The writer to the Hebrews tells his readers that they’re not still to be “newborns,” they’re supposed to grow, develop, mature.

In the context of Hebrews, “falling away” isn’t about denying the Lord, or of walking away from the things of God.  It’s about “standing still,” not progressing, not growing, not “living.”  We might paraphrase it as “falling by the wayside.”

The writer told his readers,

“It’s time to grow up.”

Hebrews 6:4-6, “…if they fall away….”

[Note: Because this is such a controversial portion of Scripture, this post is the first of three projected, Lord willing, posts on these verses and what they actually teach.]

Apparently, these four words out of the 67 which make up vs. 4-6 (NKJV) are the only ones many people read.  Having done so, they exclaim, “Aha, you can lose your salvation; the Bible says you can ‘fall away’.”  Then they go on to berate the “devil’s doctrine of eternal security”.

Some of these folks say that they’ve been saved…several times.

Without getting into the discussion about whether or not the author is referring to “real” Christians, let’s just simply say that if the writer is saying that Christians can lose their salvation, he also says something else.

If you can lose it, it is impossible to get it back.  The writer says of the people he describes in vs. 4-6, …it is impossible …, if they fall away, TO RENEW THEM AGAIN TO REPENTANCE,… (emphasis added).

In other words, THERE IS NO SAVED, THEN LOST, THEN SAVED AGAIN.  Such a thing is impossible.

Why is it impossible to be saved, lost, and saved again?

It is impossible because of what it took to get us saved in the first place!!

If we can lose our salvation, then that means that all the things it took to get us saved in the first place DIDN’T WORK!!

We have such loose and fuzzy ideas about what the Lord Jesus did on the Cross that it’s a wonder anybody is saved at all.  Current thinking seems to be that Jesus just made it possible for men and women to be saved; His death doesn’t actually accomplish anything until we ratify it by our “accepting” it.  We “let” God save us.  We’re the ones who actually make it happen.  

Isn’t that the gist of what is taught in the majority of pulpits – if it’s taught at all, and not just some “self-help”, feel-good-about-yourself drivel?

However, the death of Christ actually paid the penalty for our sins.  He satisfied God’s justice.  Before that, He lived a life of perfect holiness and righteousness, which is imputed to those who believe on Him, because they have no such holiness and righteousness of their own.  In order to be able to do that, He had to be born into this world.  In order to do that, He had to lay aside the glory and majesty and power that was His as the Word and be conceived in the womb of a virgin so that He could live a sinless and holy life.

God raised Him from the dead to show that He was who He claimed to be – that is, the Son of God, and that He had indeed accomplished redemption for those whom He came to save.

The Holy Spirit takes what the Bible says about the work of the Son and uses it to bring a dead sinner to life, to bring that sinner to a place of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.  In other words, He regenerates the sinner and we see the evidence of that in that person’s faith.

It takes the combined “effort” of the Trinity, if I can put it like that, for a sinner to be saved.  If that sinner can “lose” or just throw away that salvation, then all that is in vain.  It didn’t work.  God’s not going to go through all that again just so someone can be “saved again.”  He’s not going to put His Son through the agony of the Cross a second time.  It didn’t “work” the first time.  Why would it be any more effective a second time?

Do you REALLY want your salvation to depend on YOUR faithfulness?

‘Cause if you lose it – you can’t get it back.

Do you really want to go there?

A Time to Weep; A Time to Laugh

A time to weep; a time to laugh, Ecclesiastes 3:4.

There was, and perhaps still is, a popular conservative radio program.  I really don’t know because I don’t listen to the radio, and haven’t for several years.  I prefer silence to the inane yammerings and what passes for music in our time on the radio, even much of “Christian” radio.

I used to drive for a living and did listen to the radio, including the program mentioned above.  In fact, I could have listened to the final hour of this program three times.  Once was enough.  This was during the time of the Clinton administration and the troubles he had in the Oval Office.  This particular program delighted in making fun of the various things reported in the news, troubles and policies alike.  I’ll admit, some of the things were cleverly done and someone spent a lot of time dreaming them up and producing them.  Still, I eventually got tired of them and turned the radio off.

The thing is, even then I recognized that the program was wrong.  Make no mistake, I am conservative, politically and religiously.  I have no use for the liberal tendency to rewrite history and to destroy the things which made this country [US] great.  We’re not perfect, by any means, but we don’t have to build walls to keep people in.  And I’m not perfect, either.  You’d only have to talk to my wife to find that out.

But “laughter” isn’t the proper response to sin.

Ezekiel lived in a similar time.  Granted, he didn’t have radio or television or the internet,  but it was still a time of great wickedness.  Early in his ministry, he saw a vision in which God told some angels to “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it,” Ezekiel 9:4 (NKJV).

True, these men would later be spared from the judgment which, in the vision, befell the city, but that’s not what I’m thinking about here.  God was looking for people who did not make light of the terrible situation of their times, but who “sighed and cried” over it.

Can I make the application to today and the world in which we live?  Things are happening which would have been unimaginable in my youth.  I’m on Facebook, write a blog, spend some time on “yahoo answers,” but seldom do I see any real concern for the moral and spiritual cesspool this world has become.  Granted, my view is limited.  But I see jokes and cartoons and off-color or worse remarks and ridicule and scorn for what our spiritual ancestors suffered and died for to pass along to us.  This says nothing about the sacrifices of life and limb young men and women have given to protect our “freedom”.

Where are those who “sigh and cry for the abominations” championed and highlighted and promoted in our society?  Where are those who are heartbroken over what has happened to our country and our world?  The desolation and damnation at the end of that road – that broad road that leads to destruction?

I know such folks are out there.  Their voices just aren’t being heard in the din and depravity of our time.

This is a time to weep, not to laugh.

odds ‘n’ ends ‘n’ sparrows

I’m kind of a collector of lost causes.  I’ve got a couple of plants people have thrown away where I work.  Both survived and are growing.  Then there’s the newborn pigeon on the balcony where I work.  The balcony seems to be a favorite breeding ground for them.  Already two messes of babies this year.  [I don’t know what you call a “group” of pigeons, “flock”, I suppose.  Considering how dirty they are, “mess” seems like a good choice.]  This last batch consisted of two little yellow fuzz-balls.  One was contentedly settled down in what passed for a nest; the other was having troubles.  I didn’t figure it would survive; it didn’t.


Got me to thinking about the time our Lord was teaching His disciples and talked about sparrows.  In Matthew 10:29, the Lord said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?”  Luke records it like this: “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?” Luke 12:6.

That fifth sparrow.

A “throw-away,” as it were.  A lost cause.

Yet, in both instances, our Lord taught that God knew all about it.  Then, in Luke 12:7, He said that even the hairs of our head are numbered – not counted, numbered.  So, the next time you comb or brush your hair, you can say, “Well, there goes number …”

Then He said, and I think it was with a tender smile, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows,” Luke 12:7.

All of us are bent and broken and marred, full of imperfections and problems.

Lost causes.

Yet, through the Lord Jesus, God is pleased to take those bits and pieces, those imperfections, that lostness, and to build Himself a dwelling, which He beautifies and glorifies with His presence.

No wonder the Psalmist, in considering the work of God in his life, said, Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it, Psalm 139:6.  Then, in v. 17, he wrote, How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

The Foreknowledge of God

…elect according to the foreknowledge of God…, 1 Peter 1:1 (NKJV).

Sooner or later, everyone who reads more than just an occasional verse in or devotional from the Bible comes across verses like 1 Peter 1:21.  Often, some older Christian or perhaps a book or commentary will explain it in this way:  this simply means that God looked down through the corridors of time and “chose” those whom He foresaw would choose Him.

Several things might be said about this view of God’s choice, which isn’t really “His” choice at all.

1.  “Foreknowledge” is not just “foresight,” any more than sight and knowledge are the same.  God “knows” all things intuitively – He is God.  That is, He doesn’t learn by observation or experience, like we do.  And He knows everything immediately – that is, He doesn’t have to search His memory for some fact or thought.  He knows everything all the time.  And when the Bible says that God “knows” someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean that He is simply “aware” of them.  For example, in Matthew 7:23, where our Lord declares to some astonished lost people who claimed to know Him that He never knew them,  He’s not saying that He didn’t know “about” them.

In Amos 3:2, where God said to Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth, He wasn’t pleading ignorance of all the other nations.  A parallel passage in Deuteronomy makes this plain: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself; a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth,” Deuteronomy 7:6.

The Psalmist understood this when he wrote in Psalm 44:3 about Israel’s possession of the promised land: for they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, neither did their right hand save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them.

This is in contrast to Joshua 11:20 (KJV) where it is said that the nations in the land received no favor.

Furthermore, the Lord made it plain that there was nothing “foreseen” in Israel that was the basis of His choice of them over other nations, “It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you…,” Deuteronomy 9:5.  Indeed, Moses continued, “Therefore understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people,” Deuteronomy 9:6.  Then, in v. 7, he reminds them of their continued rebellion against the LORD from the moment they left Egypt until then.

In fact, there is never any indication anywhere in the Old Testament, apart from the prophesied blessings of the New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, that Israel ever was or ever would be the righteous people they were supposed to be.  Except for a relatively few individuals, there would be nothing but rebellion and stubbornness in the nation as a whole throughout their whole history.

In truth, Israel was no better than the nations which she dispossessed.  She quickly fell into the same sins they had been guilty of and eventually suffered the same judgments as they did.  Only because of God’s choice of them has Israel as a nation not been wiped off the face of the earth.  There’s a lot that the Bible says about Israel and this present time, to say nothing of her future, but those are perhaps subjects for another time.

2.  In the Bible, God’s purpose and His foreknowledge are sometimes mentioned together and when they are, His purpose is mentioned first.  On the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that the Lord Jesus “…was delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God,” Acts 2:23.

Surely, SURELY, no one would be so foolish as to conclude that Christ’s death on the Cross was included in God’s purpose only because God “foresaw” that it would happen! Acts 4:28 certainly indicates otherwise, “…to do whatever YOUR HAND and YOUR PURPOSE determined before to be done [emphasis added].

Romans 8:29, which speaks of those whom God foreknewfollows v. 28, which speaks of those same people as being the called according to His purpose.

We see from these verses that God’s “foreknowledge” is based on His purpose, and not the other way around, and also not on the “foreseen” actions of sinful men and women, which leads to our next thoughts.

3.  The Bible itself uses the figure of God “looking down from heaven.”  In Psalm 14:2, we read, The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, TO SEE IF THERE ARE ANY WHO UNDERSTAND, WHO SEEK GOD [emphasis added].  If the ordinary understanding of “foreknowledge” were true, then surely we would read that God does indeed find “some” who “understand” and who “seek” Him.  Is that what we read?  Quite the contrary: They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one, Psalm 14:3.  These thoughts are repeated in Psalm 53:2, 3, and Paul quotes them in Romans 3:11.

But there is more.

4.  In Matthew 11:20-21, we read of Jesus:  Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His might works had been done, because they did not repent:  “Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long again sackcloth and ashes.  Then He says the same thing about Capernaum, contrasting their rejection of Him with what would have been reception in Sodom had His works been done there.

As difficult as these verses are to understand and receive, being so opposite of what is taught and believed today, these are the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, not some narrow-minded “hyper-Calvinist” or some wicked theologian trying to impose his views on Scripture.  This is the Lord Jesus Himself, teaching that there were some who would have repented if they had been given the opportunity, but they were never given the opportunity!  Contrary to modern belief, they were not chosen based on their “foreseen faith.”  They were not chosen at all.  They were left to suffer the consequences of their sin.

If you’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, don’t ever think it’s because of something God “foresaw” that you would do.  It’s His grace, not our “willingness,” that saves us.  One of the old Puritans said that anything outside of hell was more than we deserve.  But to be brought into the fold of His people and to share in the showers of blessing He lavishly gives them….

O Worship the King

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space;
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold
Almighty, your power has founded of old,
Has stablished it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it has cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of of dust, and feeble as frail,
In You do we trust, nor find You to fail;
Your mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

– Psalm 104, Robert Grant, 1779-1838

I know the old hymns have largely fallen out of favor, and this one I’ve updated a little.  There are some good choruses, but I wonder, in my dotage, if God is really worshiped by amplifiers cranked up to high and shows imitating Las Vegas or Hollywood.  If smoke from God really filled a place instead of something generated by a machine, I wonder what the difference might be?