About vonhonnauldt

I'm just an old guy, married to my amazing wife for almost 49 years. We have five children and nine grandchildren. No dogs or cats or fish. Just us two. Sorry about the no picture. Ran out of cameras :) I love to read and teach the Word of God. There's always something new, even in the difficult chapters. Thanks for stopping by. Come visit us at nightlightblogdotcom. We pray God's best for you.

The “New Normal”

“The new normal”:  the current buzzword describing the changes made in our culture and society by the presence and effect of COVID-19.  Wearing masks and gloves, wiping down surfaces which may have been touched.  “Social distancing.”  “Sheltering at home.”  Jobs lost, businesses closed, lives changed.  A good portion of our culture and economy destroyed.  A tremendous amount of food thrown away or destroyed because the transportation needed to move it to market was closed down – and, I fear, the worst is yet to come from that.

Actually, there is nothing “new” in all this, after all.  Oh, perhaps the exact circumstances are unique, but this is not the first time in our world’s sad history that a “new normal” has happened.  And it won’t be the last.

The very first time happened very early in that history, and, no, I do not accept the evolutionary idea that everything “just happened.” I do accept Genesis 1-3 as reliable, factual history.

And, in that history, although not a lot of detail is given, “normal” was an innocent and sinless Adam and Eve living in paradise, having fellowship with their God and Creator, Genesis 1-3.  The idyllic environment of the earth at that time can be used to explain a lot of things, like dinosaurs, that secular “science,” with its basic assumption that there couldn’t possibly have been a God to create it, has completely misunderstood.

The first “new normal” occurred when Adam and Eve disobeyed a simple command of God and were thrown out of the Garden.  They lost fellowship with God and their whole life and future, as well as that of their descendants, was radically changed.

“Normal” then became a sinful race living more or less, mostly more, in disregard of their God and Creator.  Romans 1:21-31 is a description of this first rebellion.  It’s also applicable to a lot of cultures throughout history, and of ours in this year of our Lord 2020.

The next “new normal” is described in Genesis 6-9, when God determined to judge an increasingly wicked and perverted human race with a great flood.  Though unbelief tells us this was just some local overflow of streams or rivers, these four chapters of Scripture record that God told Noah several times that He would destroy the world that then was, Genesis 6:7, 13, 17; 7:4, 11, 12; 17-23; 8:9, 21; 9:11-17.

In Matthew 24:39 and Luke 17:27, the Lord Jesus confirmed the universal scope of the Flood.  And Peter, in 2 Peter 3:5, 6, also refers to it, and prophesies of another, yet future total destruction of the earth, this time by fire.

The next “new normal” happened a few hundred years later, in Genesis 11.  In Genesis 9:1, 7, God told Noah to, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth,”….”be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.”

In Genesis 11, we read that men migrated from the east to a plain in Shinar [which became known as Babylon], and they dwelt there, v. 2.  As they considered their situation, v. 4, they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Genesis 10 records the the genealogies of Noah’s three sons, as they indeed began to multiply and fill the earth, and it says that each son fathered descendants according to their families, according to their languages, vs. 5, 15, 31.

Genesis 11:1 tells us that the whole earth had one language and one speech.  So, their “normal” was rebellion against God’s command to multiply and fill the earth.  They had settled in one place.  The chapter tells us the origin of all the different languages of our world.

I do have a different view of the “tower” they built.  It’s commonly thought that they were trying to reach and get into heaven.  That may be, but if it’s true that there was some sort of atmospheric “canopy” around the earth, Genesis 1:6: “expanse,” then it may be that, prior to the Flood, their view of the heavens was blurred or blocked.  After the Flood, this “expanse” was gone, I think, as part of the Flood, then, all of a sudden, there was this whole new world, so to speak, “out there,” and they built this tower to get a better view of it, much like telescopes today are built in higher elevations.  No doubt, knowing the perversity of man, what began as wonder and curiosity deteriorated into worship.

As I said, a different view of it all.

But there was a “new normal” associated with it, as well.  In Genesis 11:5, we read, the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.  And the LORD said, “Indeed, the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing they propose to do will be withheld from them.  Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they nay not understand one another’s speech.”…Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”

Their “new normal” was that they were scattered all over the place, and some with whom they had worked now spoke what we would call “gobbledy-gook” and they couldn’t understand each other.  But there were some who spoke the same new language and so they settled down together and, in effect, started over. What they could have, and should have, done voluntarily was done for them.

I believe Romans 1:18-32 describes the situation that arose out of Babel and became the scene out of which God chose one man – Abraham – through which He would work eventually to reclaim the human race, a race that had turned its back on Him.  Abraham was the next “new normal”.

Then, after Abraham, the next “new normal” was that God rescued a bunch of slaves out of the greatest country of its time, and led them to their own country, a country He promised to them and to their descendants “forever:” Genesis 17:8; 48:2-4; Exodus 3:8; 6:4; 13:5, 11; Leviticus 14:34; Number 34 (which gives a detailed list of the boundaries of the Promised Land – the only such listing for any country in the history of the world.  Even after all this time, Israel still lives within those boundaries.  How many other nations have come and gone in that time?); 1 Chronicles 16:15-19; Isaiah 19:18-24.

Isaiah 19 itself lists a “new normal” for the countries in that part of the world, and describes a situation that cannot be said to have happened yet:

In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.   In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border.  And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.  Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it.  And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.  In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.  In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance,” vs. 18-25.

That last sentence alone….

And it can’t be said that, because God mentions Assyria, all this has somehow happened already.  He was describing the area by the countries the people knew, and even “Assyria” has come down to us as “Syria”.

Two more “new normals”.

One day, a young Jewish man was walking along a shoreline and saw some fishermen.  He said to some of them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17.  He called some others, as well.  From them, He formed what we call, “the church,” and gave them a mission to “preach the Gospel” to all the world.

And, finally,

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy, Isaiah 66:17, 18.

“For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “So shall your descendants and your name [spoken to Israel] remain. Isaiah 66:22.

looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, 2 Peter 3:12.

That will be the last “new normal,” and it will last.

Forever.

Oh, that the Lord would give us eyes to see.  This current situation, this virus, this unsettling, this “sheltering at home,” will not endure.  I don’t know what’s coming or how it will all work out, but I know that the Lord is still on the throne and He will work it out.  He’s preparing for us a new home, John 14:1-3.

Are you ready?

John 3:16: The Neglected Word.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life, NKJV.

Our last post looked at John 3:16 as the most popular and beloved verse in Scripture.  And it is a wonderful truth, as we stated, that grace and mercy have been extended to Gentiles apart from their having to become Jews.  I have nothing against the Jewish people; if you’ve followed me for any length of time, that should be apparent.  They have their own place in the redemptive purpose of God, and it is theirs.  In spite of those who teach otherwise, God is not done with Israel, even though a terrible time does await her.  But, after that time is over, an even more glorious future is promised her by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jeremiah 31:31-34.

This post will focus on one word in John 3:16:  perish.  This thought isn’t nearly as welcome as the thought of the love of God.  However, we cannot isolate one aspect of God’s nature and ignore the rest.  God is love, yes, as 1 John 4:8, 16.  And we are  required to love one another, John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17, which is our Lord’s command, and there are about 15 references to this in the rest of the New Testament.

At the same time, though, according to God’s own testimony about Himself, “love” is not His defining characteristic.  In Leviticus 11:44, 45, God commanded Israel, ‘For I am the Lord your God.  You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. … For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.  You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

“I am holy.”

Holiness.

That is God’s basic nature.  Leviticus 19:2; 20;26; 21:8 and 1 Peter1:16 all repeat this idea.  Further, God is called The Holy One of Israel more than 30 times in the Old Testament.

The word translated, “holy,” means “separate.”  It tells us that God is “separate” from His creation.  He is not part of it or “in” it, as the pantheist or the panentheist tells us.   Pantheism tells us that everything is God and God is everything, hence the worship of trees and such.  The panentheist says that while God is not everything, He is in everything.  Though not the tree Himself, He is in the tree.  Both of those views miss the mark.  God is “separate” from His creation.  He is Spirit, as John 4:24 tells us.  He’s not flesh-and-blood, though the Lord Jesus became that when He came into this world to redeem sinners.  He is not some material “thing,” like wood or stone.  He is Spirit; we don’t even really know what “spirit” is.  God is also separate in the fact that He morally above His creation:  He cannot sin.  Everything He does is right and true and good, though man foolishly and wickedly imagines that he can sit in judgment on the Most High.

And He’s not a figment of our imaginations.  One of these days, we’ll find that out.

So…

What does all this have to do with “perish”?

Because God is holy, He cannot and will not overlook sin.  Even though it may seem like individuals, and groups, and nations, are getting away with their blatant disregard for His Word, it is still true that, it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment, Hebrews 9:27.  Without getting into the various views about that coming judgment, Scripture does clearly indicate that we all, every one of us, will stand before Him in judgment.

Revelation 20:11-15 is one such description:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.  And there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.  And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books.  The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead which were in them.  And they were judged, each one according to his works.  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

That is what it means to “perish”.

This is why the Lord Jesus came to this earth.  It wasn’t just to give us Christmas or Easter, or to fuel arguments over which religion, church or denomination is the “right” one.  It was to atone for sin, to pay that awful penalty hinted at in the word, “perish.”  It was to provide that righteousness, the lack of which is part of the reason people will perish.  It was to take the place of those who believe on Him for salvation.

He died, so that we might live.

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

John 3:16: The Favorite Phrase

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (NKJV)

This is perhaps the best-known and most quoted verse in the Bible.  Years ago, a very popular tract said, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”  People without the slightest interest in the subject were assured that God loves them:   “Smile, God loves you.”  The love of God is celebrated in sermon, song and literature.

Scripture does indeed teach that God has a redemptive love for mankind.  Titus 3:4 speaks of the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man.  He did not choose to redeem fallen angels.  Instead, He chose to redeem fallen, sinful men and women.

For verily he [Christ] took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16 [KJV].  Other versions translate the first part of this verse, He does not give aid to angels [NKJV], or, For surely it is not angels he helps [ESV].  However, the word translated as “give aid” or “helps” means “to take hold of” and is translated like that in 1 Timothy 6:12 in the ESV, take hold of the eternal life…, and in the NKJV, lay hold on eternal life….  God chose to save men and women, not angels, yet notice that the writer of Hebrews said that Christ took on him the seed of Abraham.  He didn’t say that He took on Himself the seed of Adam.

Even though multitudes in the time between Adam and Abraham knew and worshiped the true God, nevertheless, it was relatively early in human history that God’s saving purpose focused on and was accomplished through one family, that of Abraham, into which family our Lord was born.  By the time of Christ, many Jews believed that when Messiah came, He would destroy the Gentiles.  They thought that no Jew, no matter how wicked, could be lost, and that no Gentile, no matter how good, could be saved, except by becoming a Jew.  They thought God loved only Israel.

Though there’s some discussion about whether John 3:16 records part of the conversation between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus or if it’s just a commentary by John, we believe it is actually part of the conversation.  The reason for that is that the Lord is correcting Nicodemus’ narrow and provincial view.

As a Jew, Nicodemus would have been raised from the cradle with the knowledge that Israel had been God’s chosen people, redeemed from slavery in Egypt and brought into the land of Canaan as their land, an idea, by the way, still under dispute.  Further, he would have been leery of associating with Gentiles – anyone not a Jew – because of all the trouble Israel had gotten into for doing that very thing.

Even in the early church, though some time later, this was still a big controversy.  When Peter returned home to Jerusalem after his visit to Cornelius in Caesarea in Acts 10, those of the circumcision (in the church) contended with him, saying “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Acts 11:1-3 [NKJV].  This was no gentle discussion.  You can hear the outrage.

Peter described what had happened and why he had gone to this heathen city – heathen as far as the Jews were concerned.  He had been told to go there in a special vision from God, and when he got there, he didn’t even get to finish what he was telling Cornelius and his friends, but, as he told the church at Jerusalem, as he began to speak to Cornelius, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us as the beginning, Acts 11:15.  I don’t think he got much more than started when he was interrupted by the Spirit.  In v. 17, Peter’s reasonable conclusion to those who questioned him was, “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

This satisfied those who had before been so contentious, v. 18:  When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

Getting back to Nicodemus, I believe that he would have understood, however little that might have been, that the Lord Jesus was telling him that God loved Gentiles, too, and not just Jews.  It’s unlikely that he would have understood it as commonly understood in our day.

Considering the emphasis on the “love of God” in modern churches, it seems strange that the early church in the Book of Acts never mentioned it in a single sermon.  In fact, the only occurrence in Acts of any of the words translated “love” in our New Testaments is found in 28:2, where, in his description of their narrow escape from a shipwreck, Luke says of the inhabitants of the place where the survivors found themselves, that they showed us unusual kindness.

Having said all that, I’m very thankful, as a Gentile, that God extended the golden scepter of His mercy to Gentiles, cf. Esther 4:10; 5:5.  Without it, and considering the animosity that exists toward the Jewish people in a great part of this world, there would be very little hope of salvation if one had to become a Jew or a proselyte.

However, the door has been opened for all people to come to the Lord Jesus.

Have you come to Him?

Will you come to Him?

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

Caterpillars

The other morning, there was a caterpillar crawling on the floor of the bathroom.  Unless it hitched a ride on someone, I have no idea how it got there.  It’s a long way to the front door for a caterpillar.

There was some cardboard nearby, so I put the creature on it and carried it outside to a luscious green plant.  I put the thing down there and hoped the chickens wouldn’t get it.

Why didn’t I kill it, or just dispose of it?  I don’t know; it never occurred to me.  I guess I felt a kind of sympathy for a fellow creature, who was just in the wrong place.

Now we know that a caterpillar isn’t the final product, so to speak.  Even though some of them are beautiful in themselves, they all turn into something beautiful, something not limited to crawling on the floor, but able to fly.

There’s a lesson here.

Too many of us are like that caterpillar, crawling around on the floor, with little idea of anything else beyond the immediate environment.  And little or no thought for our future.

The New Testament actually has a great deal to say about the future.  For the believer, it will be a far greater change than it could ever be for a caterpillar.

Romans 8:18 says, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, NKJV.  Not just – “to us,” but, “in us.”

Here is just a sampling of other verses about the believer’s future, not necessarily in order:

Romans 8:29, For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

1 John 3:2, Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

2 Corinthians 5:4, For we who are in this tent [this body] groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

1 Corinthians 15:52-54, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Then, of course, there are the descriptions of a future city with its street of gold, etc, Revelation 21:9-21.

The thing I look forward to, though – not the new body or the new environment – but what I long for, is that I will be able to serve and honor and glorify God as He deserves, without the distractions and difficulties of the sinful nature we all inherited from Adam.  If I could just do that, I’d be content with this old body, minus the sin nature, even with its hearing aid and glasses and creaks and groans.  Just to be able to serve Him.

But there’s also a future for the unbeliever.  The devil has a lot of them convinced that death is the end, and there’s nothing else, or that everyone is on their way to “a better place” or that there are other ways and other names by which one may prepare for the future.  Different futures, too.  But Revelation 21 has a word for them, as well, But there shall by no means enter into [the New Jerusalem] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie,… 

No, no, their destination is described in Revelation 20:15 as the lake of fire.

I don’t know really what to say about that, except maybe to liken it to the lava of a volcano, and to be thrown into something like that….

Forever….

Oh, listen, without the Lord Jesus, there is no future, only a past that will finally catch up.

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

When Jesus Went Forward

No doubt, this seems a strange, if not absurd, title, or worse. The phrase, “went forward,” has a particular meaning to our fundamentalist Christian culture, and is something which the Lord would never have had to do.  It’s an invention of men, anyway, and has no Scriptural basis.  In fact, it’s probably done more harm than good.  But He has no fault or failures to confess.  He has no need to “get saved.”  It seems almost sacrilegious, even blasphemous, to associate Him with that. 

And yet Scripture clearly says that He went forward.

You might say, “Where does it say that?”

Or maybe you already know…. 

Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came with lanterns, torches, and weapons.  Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”  They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jesus said to them, “I am [He].”  And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.  Now when He said to them, “I am [He], they drew back and fell to the ground .  Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”  And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am [He]…, John 18:3-8 NKJV, emphasis added.

The word “He” is in brackets because it is added to the translation of the original text and is in italics.  In that text, our Lord said, Ego eimi,” twice.  Literally, He said, “I, I am.”  He could have simply said, “eimi,” – “I am,” and told them He was who they were looking for.  But I think there’s more to it than that.  It was the reason they “drew back and fell to the ground.”  He told them who He was.  He emphasized it:  “I, I am.” These men were Jews and would have been well aware of the origin and significance of the phrase, “I am”. 

They understood that the Lord Jesus was claiming to be that One who met with Moses on that mountain all those centuries ago. 

That is why they fell to the ground.  It wasn’t in worship of this One who stood before them.  One day, they will confess that He is who He said He was, but it will be too late then.  But here, on this dark night, away from the crowds, along with their evil intent….  And suddenly to be reminded of the contrast between this night and that other time.  Can we say that it’s like when you enter a dark room at night and turn on the light?  The reaction of your eyes and your body to the sudden change?  Here, though, the contrast was infinite – and it knocked them over.

Had the Lord Jesus so desired, these men could have had no power over Him at all.  All the armies of the earth could not have apprehended Him.  But He went forward….

He knew what He was getting into.  Likely, He had known it His whole life.

But He went forward….

We cannot even begin to understand any of that.  Those three days beginning with the Crucifixion.  We’ve prettied it all up with our “Good Friday” services and our “morning sunrise service” on “Easter Sunday,” while completely ignoring what He said about “three days and three nights,” but we have no clue what it meant to the Son of God.  The Easter bunny gets more publicity during that weekend than the Lord Jesus.

But He went forward….

That was why He came to this benighted planet to begin with.  He didn’t come here just to be a Teacher, to give us nice platitudes to live by.  He didn’t come here to be “a good example,” because we could never follow it or live up to it, or any of the other reasons men assign to Him.  He certainly didn’t come here to give us some means by which we could make ourselves righteous. 

He came here for that weekend…

It’s true that His whole life was part of the sacrifice He made.  We have no idea what it meant for Him, who made our legs, as a child to have to learn how to walk.  He made our mouths, and as a child had to learn how to talk.  To live in a world of absolute sinfulness and rebellion against God, but Himself to live a perfect, righteous, sinless life.  He had no sin, but had to die, to pay for ours.

He took the place of those who believe on Him for salvation.   He was their Substitute, their Sacrifice.

He came to give everything to those who have nothing to give to Him.

That is why He “went forward.”

For His Name’s Sake

Psalm 23:6, He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake

Also 1 Samuel 12:22; Psalm 106:8; Isaiah 66:5; 1 John 2:12; 3 John 1:7, for more references to “His name’s sake”.

The 23rd Psalm is one of my favorites.  I learned it as a young man and it is with me much of the time now.  When I have trouble going to sleep, or even just at night after I’ve gone to bed, and my mind is still up and about, sometimes I recite it to myself.  It’s a great mind-relaxer, to be reminded that there’s more to life than sometimes meets the eye.

But verse 6 has impressed itself on me recently:  He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Sometimes, we Christians get so wrapped up in living, that we forget that God has something at stake, if I can put it like that, in our lives, as well.  We are His children, and we are called by His name:  Christians.  Granted, David, the author of the 23rd Psalm, didn’t know that name, or what God was going to do long after David was dead.  He himself had great and precious promises about his lineage, 1 Samuel 7:12-16, but God never told him exactly how He was going to fulfill those promises.  David didn’t know anything about “the church.”  Still, he knew that God was working in His life.  David messed up badly and God told him, “You have given My enemies great occasion to blaspheme,”  2 Samuel 12:14, and so he had, to this day.  His dalliance with Bathsheba is the best known part of his whole life, and unbelievers still use it to belittle this “man after God’s own heart”, Acts 13:22.

If we’re not careful, we can do the same thing.  I remember a time as a young believer;  I had gone to Bible college, only been saved a few months, though I didn’t understand that at the time.  I’ve probably told the story of my early life before, but it fits here, as well.  I had “gone forward” at a meeting held by an associate of Billy Graham, name of Mordecai Ham, and had then been baptized.  I was 9 or so.  We’ll skip over the next 13 or so years.  A fellow at work kept after me to go to church, something I wasn’t interested in, and finally, just to shut him up! I went with him.  It was there in that church, not that first time I went but shortly thereafter, that the Lord brought me to Himself.  I never “went forward” or “prayed the prayer,” but God did something in my life and I was never the same afterward.  I still have a long ways to go.  I am well acquainted with Romans 7.  It was while I was at that college that I came to understand that I hadn’t really been saved at the age of 9 at all, but years later.  I was baptized again, this time at my own leading, not my grandmother’s, God bless her.  She’s been with Him a long time now.

Anyway, I was at work and evidently not doing a very good job at it.  The boss told me that I was a poor example of a Christian.  I cannot tell you how that struck me.  I asked the Lord to forgive me and straighten me out.  I worked at that cafeteria for about 3 1/2 years until I graduated.  A few years later, I took my wife to that same place and the boss, a different one, but who had been there when I was there before, offered me my old job back.

God had something at stake in my life.  He does in all His children’s lives.  You see, people judge Him by what they see in us.  That is why He leads us in paths of righteousness.  It is for His name’s sake.

Evolution: The Devil’s Gospel

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3, NKJV.

Though this text may be applied in several ways, I want to use it as a reference to the foundations of our faith as Christians.  If those foundations are destroyed, what happens to our faith?

To destroy the faith has been the aim of the devil since the beginning of human history.  Though we’re given no time frame, I don’t think it took very long in the very beginning of our history in the Garden of Eden before Satan questioned the accuracy and authority of God’s Word.  He came to Adam and Eve and asked, “Has God said…?”

That’s the genius, if I can use that word in this context, of the idea of evolution:  it gets rid of God.  Things just happened, no rhyme, no reason, no purpose, no Garden of Eden and, above all, no God and no devil.  There are no absolutes, except that one, nothing beyond us to tell us what to do, except maybe aliens in the distant past who “seeded” our planet with life and then took off.  Six 24-hour days of creation?  Nonsense.  It took millions and millions of years of evolution from get from a single cell life form, which just happened one day, ..no Maker, no Creator, …just popped up out of the primordial ooze, …to you and me.  No heaven, no hell, no responsibility.

Our culture, our “science,” have fully bought into this lie.  Even many Christians have been taken in by it.  You’ve heard of “the gap theory” in Genesis 1:1, 2, which reads, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was, or, became, without form and void, or empty.

“Became”.

So the view was put forth that something catastrophic happened after creation, perhaps a pre-Adamite civilization which was judged for some sin, to explain dinosaur fossils and the cavemen and all that, and the earth “became without form and empty.”  This idea puts the alleged millions of years into the “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

The fact that the earth was empty and without form doesn’t mean that it was only a mass of gas or stellar material, as evolution teaches.  It just means that God hadn’t done anything to it yet.  It had no features.  It was “empty.”  The rest of Genesis 1:2 says that the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  Then it describes the creation of this planet and the abundant life that is on it – in the course of less than a week, not the ages and ages and ages imagined by atheistic science, which starts off with the assumption that there couldn’t possibly be a God who created it all.

I hesitate to model God’s behavior on our own, as I once heard a radio preacher do who said something to the effect that if we multiplied man a billion times, then we’d have some idea of God.  Not true.  Not true.  If we could somehow magnify man a trillion times, we’d still have just a man.  Now it is true that Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7 says that God made man in His image.  This doesn’t mean that He made us “little gods,” or anything like that; it means that He made us as rational and moral beings.    That is, we are able to think and reason and learn and do things and make things – we’re not just upscale animals – and we have an innate sense of “right and wrong.”  These may not agree with God’s view, witness the news the last few days, but they are there.

So, when Scripture says that the Spirit was hovering over the waters, does it mean that He was looking things over?  Was He laying out, as it were, where things would go:  Europe here, Asia there, the US over there, and so on?  The names may be modern, but the land masses have been around since the second day of creation, Genesis 1:9, 10.

Evolution gets rid of all that.  There is no God; that’s “the gospel according to evolution.”

That’s the Devil’s gospel.

If evolution is true, and it isn’t, but if it were, then there is no life after death, no hell, no judgment, no eternal torment for the devil and those he deceives.  That would be “good news” indeed for the devil.

But he knows it isn’t true, cf. Matthew 8:29, where we have the account of two demon-possessed men who came into the presence of the Lord Jesus and cried out, “…Have you come here to torment us before the time?

The Devil knows full well where he is going to end up and he wants to take as many folks with him as possible.  So he has produced many false gospels, many false ideas, many distractions, to accomplish just that.

I don’t know of many who deny the fact of death.  (If you have recently experienced such a thing in your family or friends, I’m truly sorry).  The discussion is about what happens afterward.

Is there an “afterward”?

Many deny any such possibility.  We die and that’s it.

Another Devil’s lie.

Scripture says, yes, there is an “afterward,” that …it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27, emphasis added.

As I’ve written before, death isn’t the end of things; it’s just a change of scenery.  For those who know the Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior, we cannot begin to imagine the joy and happiness of those who enter His presence and heaven.

For those who do not know the Lord Jesus and die without receiving Him as Lord and Savior, we also cannot imagine what they will suddenly discover: eternal judgment and torment, Luke 16:22, 23.

There are many questions about all this.  What about this?  What about that?  What about the other?

The question is, what about you?

What will be your “afterward”?

Nor is there any salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved, Acts 4:12.

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

May God add His blessing, for Jesus’ sake.

“Essential”

We’re hearing a lot today about “essential” services and people. It seems to me to be typical of a governmental view that has lost all contact with the people it’s supposed to represent. I would venture that the people who are so worried about who is essential and who isn’t are themselves the ones who are not essential.

Everyone is essential to someone….

“The Ages To Come”

Our last post was about “heart trouble.”  In that post, we made the statement that, just as our heart pumps blood to every cell of our being, so our human nature affects every minute of our lives, concluding, “And this isn’t just for the few minutes of this life, but of all that follows.”

Many Christians know Ephesians 2:8, 9, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Verse 10 really can’t be left out:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  However, the verses in the earlier part of the chapter lay the foundation for all these verses:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in [“energizes”] the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:1-7 emphasis added, NKJV.

“The ages to come….”

Not just the “threescore and ten” of this earthly life, but a span of existence we can’t even begin to imagine. We have no experience of a life w/o temporal boundaries.  We have no experience with perfection.  It isn’t to be lost in some “collective,” like the Borg in “Star Trek,” where the individual is “lost in the crowd,” so to speak.  Nor is it to be found in an excessive individualism, in which “I” am the only one who really matters.  This was the error of the “hippie” or “beatnik” of earlier generations, or “the flapper” of even earlier generations.

And it’s a lot of our trouble today, too much “I” disease.

We forget that the few minutes of this life are nothing as compared to what is waiting for us on the other side. 

And it isn’t just a matter of more “time.”  There will be a whole new experience, starting with our physical bodies.  For you youngsters out there, that doesn’t mean much.  But to the hearing aid crowd, the walkers, the canes, the various “transplants” medical science has figured out, the aches and pains of bodies lived under Adam’s curse, to say nothing of current social and economic ills, – for us, it’s something to look forward to.

Then there are the sins and the failings of “the flesh,” our fallen Adamic nature, that plague some of us.  l say, “some,” because it really seems that the majority of folks couldn’t care less about their spiritual condition.  They seem to be quite content “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” as Paul wrote.  This is nothing for the “some of us” to brag about; it’s only because of the grace of God that He’s shown us what we’re like left to ourselves.  He’s been pleased to show us “mercy,” as in Romans 9:15-18.  It seems, at least in our culture, where anything that doesn’t bow down to the depravity of the times is scorned and hated, that the “hardening” mentioned in those same verses has also happened.  The last part of Romans 1 seems to be happening all over again. 

There is one caveat to all this.  “Something to look forward to” only applies to those to whom the grace of God has come and they have seen their need of a Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ, as Ephesians 2:1-7 tells us.  “The grace of God” makes all the difference, and it’s the only thing that can make the difference.  Left to ourselves, we might be out there with the worst of them, Isaiah 1:9, Romans 9:29.  And God would be perfectly just if He left us there.  It is, after all, His grace that saves us through faith.  We don’t deserve it; we can’t earn it; we can’t obligate God to give it to us.  It all comes to us because of and through His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  And only because of and through His grace.

In Christ Jesus.

That’s the only place.

It isn’t in ‘”church,” although COVID-19 has taken care of that.  There are no “church services,” at least for a while.  It isn’t in the sacraments or in some other ritual or ceremony.  Not in the waters or drops of baptism. 

Only in the Lord Jesus.

“Neither is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.

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

Heart Trouble

Some of my recent reading was in Luke 6, where vs. 43-45 say the following:

For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  For every tree is known by its own fruit.  For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.  For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks, NKJV.

I was struck by the word “abundance” and wondered about the Greek word it translates, so I looked it up.  It pretty much means “abundance”.  Sometimes there are nuances the English doesn’t pick up, but this doesn’t seem to be one of those times.

In Matthew 12, in one of His frequents bouts with the Pharisees, this time when they were accusing Him of casting out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons, v. 24, the Lord Jesus responded, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.  Brood of vipers!  How can you, being evil, speak good things?  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.  But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned, vs. 33-37.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”

This is why Scripture admonishes us to keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life, Proverbs 4:23.

Solomon wasn’t writing about our physical hearts, though the same thing could be said of them.  The heart oxygenates our bodies several times a minute and removes the waste products of our breathing at the same time.  Have you ever really thought about that?  In effect, the same truck that delivers our groceries takes away our trash?  Only God could figure out something like that which actually works.

Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, Psalm 139:14.

No wonder the psalmist finished that verse:  Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

My mom was a nurse, so I’ve had some of her medical books.  She’s been gone a long time so they were dated, but even back in the 30s and 40s, science knew enough about the wonder that is our physical makeup, that no one in their right mind should have believed that all this intricacy and interconnection “just happened”.

With the knowledge we have today, there is even less basis for that idea.

As well look at an automobile engine, though it is kindergarten simple compared to our bodies, and say that that V8 “just happened.”  Such a thought would receive the ridicule it deserves.  Man knows it was carefully engineered and built by a lot of people using expensive machinery and technology.  Only of the physical world is it accredited and accepted to say, “This universe, this body, ‘just happened’.”

Man is very concerned to take care of his physical heart, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The other “heart,” the one that really matters, he says, “meh,” and gives it little thought.   Or if he does, he doses it with some “snake oil” that a carnival barker would be ashamed to promote.

It takes more than some little “cure” dreamed up in the side-shows of life to take care of our spiritual hearts.

Why is that?

Because Scripture has already given us the diagnosis for this kind of “heart trouble.”

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

That “heart” tells us that there is no God, there are no absolutes, if it feels good just do it, there is nothing after death, no judgment, no hell, though there may be a “better place,” the bible (small “b”) is just another religious book, and we don’t really have to pay any attention to it.

Scripture also gives us the “cure” for our spiritual heart trouble.

Though it’s written to and about the nation of Israel, it’s applicable to us through the Lord Jesus.  In Ezekiel 11:19, 20, God promised Israel, “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”

These verses and the several like them in the prophetic books of the OT form the basis of Paul’s statement in Romans 11:26, 27 about the salvation of all Israel.  These verses haven’t happened yet, but they will.  They await the coming of the Lord Jesus.

How does God give us this “heart of flesh”?  This new heart?

In 2 Peter 1:3-5, we read, ….His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, that by these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

This is what the Lord Jesus was talking about in John 3 when He told Nicodemus about being “born again”.  The reception of a new nature, a nature that’s concerned about the things of God.  That’s the only real “cure” for the spiritual troubles we have, individually and as a nation.  Contrary to what the liberal revisionists would have us believe, this nation was founded by people who wanted to worship God as they believed the Scripture to teach and not as some religious authority told them they had to.  We have so much trouble today because we’ve thrown out their wisdom and substituted the secular wisdom of the likes of Karl Marx and John Dewey.  Who was John Dewey?  He was one of the main forces behind the secularization of public education.  Before him, as an example, one of the early grade McGuffey Readers, teaching little ones their ABC’s, of the letter “A” said, “In Adam’s Fall, we sinned all.”  A lot of churches today don’t even believe that, let alone our educational system.  This does not deny that many teachers do the best they can in a system where they might have to be physically protected from their students.  A system in which “security officers” now patrol the halls.

Our churches, our schools, our families, our kids, our government, our culture all show the deterioration that has come because we’ve thrown out the “salt” of the Word and the corruption of other things has come in.  Instead of a democratic republic (America is not a “democracy;” it is a constitutional republic – not that anyone cares anymore), we have the beginnings of a socialist dictatorship. Instead of a robust economy, paying for itself as we go, we’ve gotten so far into debt to nations which hate us that our great-great-great-great-etc.,-grandchildren will bear the burden of our stupidity.

That’s just a sample of what happens to nations, to cultures, when they throw out the good tree and replace it with the bad tree.

The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, and who can know it?