Friday, February 29, 2008

Warships on the Horizon

As of this morning, U.S. warships are gathering off the Lebanon coast. According to some of the intelligence reports I've read, this could be just a mild warning to Syria and Hezbollah to back off. Other reports indicate that Israel has had just about enough of rockets from Gaza and other provocations from Hezbollah in the north out of Lebanon.

Is something afoot? Could be.

As always, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

President Bush, Globalism and Conspiracy Theories

I want you to to look at this Time Magazine article about President Bush. It was written by rock musician Bob Geldof. Geldof was the leader of the band known as The Boomtown Rats, but he is best known for his Africa-related humanitarian concert projects i.e. Live Aid.

It's an interesting article, all the more so because a Irish rock star known for liberal left causes manages to find some respect for an American president with a reputation as a conservative Republican. As intriguing as this is, I was caught by a different thing in the article, almost written in as an aside. Here's an excerpt:

You forget that Bush has an M.B.A. He thinks like a businessman in terms of the bottom line. Results. Profit and loss. There is an empiricism to a lot of his furthest-reaching policies on Africa. Correctly, he's big on trade. "A 1% increase in trade from Africa," he says, "will mean more money than all the aid put together annually." He's proud that he twice reauthorized the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a modestly revolutionary Clinton Administration initiative that enabled previously heavily taxed exports to enter the U.S. tax-free. Even though oil still accounts for the vast amount of African exports to the U.S., the beneficial impact of AGOA on such places as the tiny country of Lesotho, and its growing textile industry, has been startling.
AGOA represents precisely the sort of coherent thinking that will change things for Africa. But we talk of how the little that Africa does export to other parts of the world is still greater than the amount that it trades within the continent. I say that's because there are more landlocked countries in Africa than anywhere else in the world. "So they can't get their stuff to market?" he asks quickly. "Exactly," I say. "You have to pay so many tariffs at each border that by the time you get to the coast, you're overpriced." "You gotta dismantle borders, then." He's curious and quick.

Did you catch that last couple of sentences? "You gotta dismantle borders, then."

With that statement by President Bush, it puts an even harsher light on all the recent controversies over the North American Superhighway, the North American military agreement recently reached with Canada, KYOTO, NAFTA, GATT, and a host of other globalist projects.

Mention this to the mainstream media or some even conservative pundits, you get called a "conspiracy theorist." It's all about economics, you see. Free trade. Sure it is. But it's also about a New World Order and global governance. And it's not a conspiracy. And I am not a conspiracy theorist. Want to know why?

I never have believed in a secret cabal of Illuminati Satanists out to control the world. Beliefs such as this get you relegated to Kookdom very quickly. However, I do believe in Bible prophecy that calls for an end-time global system engineered by Satan himself, and permitted to occur by the Lord Himself. When you research into the New Age Movement, you discover something called a "conspiracy of shared values." It's not a textbook "conspiracy." It's a host of different people and different organizations who share the same worldview and work to advance the same goals.

But what about globalists? What about the Council of Foreign Relations? What about the Club of Rome? What about the Bilderbergers? What about David Rockefeller? What about Rhodes Scholars? I'm glad you asked.

I tend to laugh when people call all these groups and individuals conspirators. If their moves to advance the concept of global governance is a conspiracy in the classic sense, it has to be the most open conspiracy I've ever seen. They're quite public about it. They write articles. They give speeches. They get quoted in media often. They're not ashamed of it. They want the elimination of national borders and governing structures to advance the pursuit of global wealth and power. It's not a conspiracy. For some of those advancing these ideas, their intent is not necessarily an evil one. But in this fallen world, what begins with a supposedly noble intention often ends in great evil, brutality and bloodshed. And in the case of an end-time world system, it's been foretold and will occur in God's time, for His sovereign purpose.

Does that mean those of us who see what's coming shouldn't warn and resist evil as much as possible? Of course not. I believe in the nation state. I believe in the ongoing concept and freedom of America as envisioned by our Founders. Many others hate that concept and want to see it destroyed. We should be under no illusions here. Many of our own leaders are selling that concept down the river. I think it's high time people woke up and smelled the coffee.

And don't pay too much attention to labels -- conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, Independent. With few exceptions, they all seem bound and determined to move down this horrible path in the name of "freedom," by which they mean open borders, free "trade," power, wealth and aggrandizement. The few remaining who actually want to see American sovereignty preserved are laughed at, shouted down, silenced or ignored. Worse yet, they get called "conspiracy theorists."

Are there silly conspiracy theories out there? Yes indeed. But this isn't one of them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Revisiting Robert Schuller

Sola's Note: Again today, I find myself rather swamped with office and home issues. Among other things, my water system has gone on the fritz one more time. Oh, well. This too shall pass.

In lieu of a post from me, I am linking this commentary by Pastor Gary Gilley regarding a conference being held by Dr. Robert Schuller. Of course, few aware, biblically discerning Christians these days are ignorant of Schuller's "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free" theology, but this bears reading and pondering. A sign of the times? I think so.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Nuclear Debate

Due to being snowed out of my office (again) yesterday, I am a bit backlogged for time. Therefore, I am posting this very interesting article about the case for nuclear energy. It's written by journalist William Tucker and was published in this month's Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale College.

Very thought provoking, and in an age where everyone is wringing their hands about global warming, poses some interesting questions. Which side will the 1960s radicals land on? The need to fight supposed global warming, or a source of energy that might solve the supposed issue?

Then again, some of them won't be happy until we're back wearing furs and living in caves. (Except PETA. No furs). Better yet, some of these enviro-nuts are so radical that they'd rejoice if there was a mass kill-off of humanity.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Problem With Liberals

As we discuss (off and on) the current political season over the next few weeks, I want you to keep in mind a key foundational principle.

I have often listened to conservative friends vent with utter frustration at trying to reason with liberal friends, and visa versa. There is almost a complete disconnect at understanding where each other is coming from. It's at the philosophical level, but many don't see it. Here's what it is.

Liberals believe that mankind is basically good. All of their beliefs and "remedies" to societal ills stem from that foundational belief. On the other hand, conservatives (most of them) tend to recognize the fallen nature of mankind. That is why conservatives stress personal responsibility and accountability so much.

This came to me vividly last night while watching a Fox News report about an Ocala, Florida, woman who was arrested and charged for "neglect." Why? Because she was frustrated at her inability to control her teenage sons to the point that she packed up and moved out of the house. Mind, we are not talking little temper tantrums here. These young punks are dangerous. They even went after a news crew armed with a lead pipe. Yet instead of dealing with these young miscreants who need a good solid kick in the pants, they put the mother in jail instead. Think about it a while.

The poor woman is not physically as strong as three or four teenage boys. She should have gotten some male friends together and had them come in and pound some sense into these bratty thugs. But no, that's "child abuse." These young boys are just "acting out" their anger at their unfortunate circumstances.

In a word, bull. That may or may not be, but their behavior is unacceptable and there must be severe consequences for their behavior. The nanny state is punishing the wrong person. How typical.

Again, think about it a while.

Coming later: Why I am Not A Conspiracy Theorist, Despite Appearances

Friday, February 22, 2008

Perilous Times

It's hard to think about evil days and perilous times when looking at a bucolic country scene such as the one in the photograph I've posted. However, how like our world it is! We're "at ease in Zion" while evil days are approaching unheeded at the threshold.

I've posted this Scripture before, but I want to do so again in light of yesterday's comment on the world scene. This precedes what I have to say about the domestic situation in the days to come:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith (2 Timothy 3:1-8).

When I've read this verse in Sunday school classes I've taught, or on the air, it is amazing to see the impact it has. How about you? What reaction do you have reading this harsh indictment from the Apostle Paul? Do you see any parallels to today?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The World: Falling Off a Cliff

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? (Acts 4:25).

It’s a political season in case you haven’t noticed, and I’m more than a bit cynical. You can only take so much blathering from politicians before you want to throw a brick through the television. I am watching the world careen toward a cliff. I know it’s prophesied to happen, but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

I have been an observer of global geopolitics for many years. You wonder how some of the people wanting elective office can be so naively stupid. You wonder how some of them can be so obviously calculated in what they say and why more people don’t notice. Then you wonder about many in the electorate who buy what they say hook, line and sinker. The near worship for Barack Obama is a good example. He says nothing other than cotton-candy platitudes, but he is seen as approaching near-Messiah status.

Those who are eventually elected will be making decisions in office — decisions that will have ripple effects for years to come. We’d like in-depth explanations and policy discussions, but that’s impossible in our narcissistic, sound-bite oriented culture. People don’t have enough of an attention span to read the cover on a package of Charmin much less one long enough to understand the long view of international diplomacy or our own historical development in the United States. And now, let me take a bit of diversion to discuss something that’s been on my mind of late. I’ll return to United States politics in another post.

Sometimes the United States creates problems by the way our government responds to things. I am a firm believer in American principles i.e freedom, democracy, human rights etc. However, I do not believe that we are smart to demand that other nations accomplish overnight what it took Western civilization hundreds of years to develop. Nations that have no tradition of democracy have to be brought into it in stages, and in a manner that is appropriate for their traditions and culture. Here’s an example.

Russia is a nation that spans 11 time zones and has between 130-150 different people groups. The central government has always been a strong force to keep the country together. Considering what they’ve been through in their history from the tsarist years through 70 years of communism, and then the heady years immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians have made significant steps. But the 1990s were chaotic years for the Russian state and people, and current president Vladimir Putin has pulled back from the free-for-all to restore order.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that I want Russia to abandon reform and to step away from democratic ideals. Far from it. I don’t want the people’s freedom to be taken away. I don’t like many of the things Putin has done, although I can understand why he did it. Whatever the case, I suggest that we be a bit more patient and allow the Russians to develop in their own pace and in their own way. What works in America won’t necessarily work in Russia. This lesson can apply to other countries that don’t necessarily do things the way we do, and they’re not necessarily enemies of ours. As the late Richard Nixon – perhaps America’s best foreign policy president – once said, “We should learn to be less meddlesome.”

Here’s something else we need to recognize. Sometimes other nations have a legitimate bone to pick with us. We promised that we would not expand NATO to Russia’s borders, yet we’re working toward doing exactly that. Some of the new “attitude” being displayed by Russia is partially our own doing. During the Soviet years, it was a common refrain from the communists that we imposed a double standard. A lot of that was propaganda and ridiculous. But today, it has a ring of truth. If we aren’t imposing a double standard, then our government needs to come out clearly and explain why it’s not a double standard.

Kosovo is another example. International principle has traditionally been that borders are supposed to be inviolable. We have frowned on separatist movements in Europe because we want stability and order. However, we are backing the Kosovo declaration of independence from Serbia. Does that mean we now support the Basque separatists in Spain? Do we now support Chechen independence in Russia? Are we going to get involved in the Cyprus dispute now? We try to insist that this is a special situation. Try telling that to the Basques and the Chechens. We started this, and now we’re going to have to deal with the blowback.

It’s going to get real interesting. More later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cloaks, Daggers and Machiavelli

Once in a while, I like to throw a spanner in the works in terms of current geopolitical prevailing wisdom. Here I go again.

The declaration of independence by Kosovo has been getting lots of news, and the battle lines are being drawn. Countries such as Russia and China are concerned -- understandably -- about the precedent being set in carving new countries out of older ones. The United States and much of the EU seems to back Kosovo's independence from Serbia. Some of us here in the U.S. wonder why so many Western "powers that be" are backing this, given the strain it is causing our relations with Russia and other concerned nations. After all, we believe in order, stability and the rule of law, don't we?

Could it possibly be that the New World Order crowd doesn't mind provoking a little disorder if it helps accomplish the long term goal they have in view -- global governance? "See, look at all these nation-states and the trouble they cause! The sovereign nation-state is outmoded. We need something new for the sake of world peace." Could it be? Maybe?

Personally, I smell a rat. Several of them.

Slapping Bill Clinton Around Some More

I don't know why. Maybe it's because my family has deep Arkansas roots. Maybe it's because I remember my now 90+ year old Arkansas aunt telling me when I was a teenager how much she despised Bill Clinton. She was in her 60s then and Billy Bob was just beginning his reign as Arkansas governor. Maybe it's all the stories and scandals I've been familiar with long before the walking Arkansas trailer park ended up in the White House. Maybe it's because I've had a disgust for big bullies picking on smaller people. (Clinton is supposedly gargantuan in size and has a knack for getting physical with people he can intimidate). Maybe it's my conservative politics being mixed with some spleen. I really don't know why. But I am tired of Bill Clinton's "purple rages" getting headlines and no one seemingly doing anything about them.

I don't know how much stock we can put in Dick Morris' claims about Clinton tackling him in the kitchen of the Arkansas governor's mansion. There is obviously bad blood there. I do know that if anyone tackled me in such a manner and drew their fist, they'd get a quick thumb-poke in the eye, a knee to the groin and any other blow I could manage to land. I don't care how big they are. I don't cotton well to being physically assaulted. Hillary supposedly threw a lamp at him. Good for Hillary.

For the past several weeks, we have been treated to news accounts of Billy Bob going off at people. The esteemed Chris Wallace, son of CBS' Mike Wallace, got the purple rage directed at him. Several other reporters, and now an Obama supporter, report that they've been on the receiving end. I could mention several other accounts, but that would mean a Tolstoy-novel length post.

It takes a really brave 6 foot-3 inch man to show his temper to people when he has Secret Service protection. It's really a bold warrior type who can tackle people much smaller than he is. It takes someone with nerves of steel to yell, scream, punch, poke, and spit at people when you have the apparatus of government -- local, state or federal -- to protect you from the consequences. I would imagine that most people confronted with Clinton's rage were more concerned with the legal consequences than they were actually facing down the jerk. Of course, if you were female you had another matter with which to be concerned. Ask Juanita Broderick. According to the testimony of record, she tried to stand up to Clinton and he nearly bit her lip off. How many other women have been intimidated into silence by the former Groper in Chief? Just why this lecherous buffoon continues to be worshipped by the media and taken so seriously in Europe astounds me. Bill Clinton belongs in prison. Not the White House. Not the United Nations. Not the European Union. Not any place where a respectable statesman would be received. I can't stand the man.

In the coming weeks, I will have much more to say on this presidential season and the candidates. The Republican end of the spectrum has made me just as angry. I am really displeased with the GOP establishment. Once again, they have given Christian conservatives the middle finger. I now regret my earlier misgivings on Mike Huckabee. Yes, I know that he has some things that have given movement conservatives some pause. He gave me pause. But now I see what we're faced with. Huckabee's heart is in the right place, and he has 10 years of successful state governance under his belt. But no, we had to split in 10 different directions. Now we have John McCain, who will no doubt lose to whoever the Democratic nominee is. Bob Dole all over again. George H.W. Bush all over again. The Establishment Country Club wins again. I hope everyone is happy. I'll have more to say on this delicious issue later, with whipped cream on top.

Back to William Jefferson Blythe Clinton. I could probably reassess my attitude if I could just see the slightest bit of repentance for his behavior. But I don't see anything of the kind. Just never ending narcissistic self-absorption, even at the expense of his wife's presidential candidacy.

And don't get me started on her.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bill Clinton's "Temper"

Not to deter from my previous post, but today's Drudge Report has a clip about another Clinton "temper" eruption. I'd like to ask a simple question. Why doesn't someone just get right back in Clinton's face and yell back? Why doesn't someone jam their finger in his face or wag it at him? I'd love to see someone dress him down for a change.

Don't count on it, though. The media worships him too much.

Yes, Alice..the World is Nuts

Below are links to three different stories. For time's sake, I am not going to hyperlink them. Just copy and paste them into a new browser window, then prepare to take a beta blocker to lower your blood pressure.

The first story is actually funny. A psychiatrist makes the compelling case that liberals have a mental disorder. I could have told them that long ago.

The next story is maddening. The New World Order disorder at its best. Look beyond the story and the headlines and realize the implications of what is happening here. While I hated Milosovic's bloodshed, the Serbs and the Russians have a point here. I think the Albanian separatists helped bring on the bloodshed, which Milosovic exploited for his own purposes. But for NATO and others to fan separatist movements could have domino effects. Very unpleasant ones.

This final story is enough to make me want to scream. Stupidity and bureaucracy are dangerous individually and together. Mixed with a narcissistic culture, it's deadly.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Iced In Again

The weather is at it again here in the Land of Lincoln. It began today with heavy rain, switching over to freezing rain, and soon the snow is supposed to begin. They're calling for up to 4 inches by the time it's all over. If this system had started out all snow, we would have been buried with more than a foot. Many churches have called off services for today, so I am here at home watching the foot plus of snow already fallen in previous storms turn to a mushy mess. I hope the sump pump in my basement survives.

You'd think that this would give me time to come up with a substantive post today, but in all honesty, I just don't feel like it. I could talk about politics. I could talk about current controversies in theology. I could talk about bowling or crappie fishing. I could talk about anything, I guess. But I'm tired. I feel a nap coming on, that is after I finish my cup of hot tea. The fire is burning in the fireplace. It's cozy and warm here in the house. I just got done doing my taxes and I'm getting a refund. Between that and the refund supposedly coming from the tax rebate package, my property taxes should be taken care of for another year. I am thankful for God's blessings. Thankful. Maybe that's saying enough for today.

Friday, February 15, 2008

When Second Chances Run Out

A Perspective on the Northern Illinois University Tragedy

Sola's Note: This is posted here by permission of the author, who is a brother in Christ and friend of mine. It was originally posted in the comments section over at TeamPyro, where the discussion was centering on second chances and how often God gives them. Very worth pondering today.

By Gilbert

Pyros, et al,

Normally I leave some simple message when I'm trying to be serious, and then lay a joke (or a joke of an egg) making an attempt to be comedic.

None of that. Not now.

I've disclosed here that I work as a meteorologist, by trade. What you don't know is that I work at a place that just had a rampant school shooting today---Northern Illinois University.

I was 3 buildings away when it happened. Being that I have a weather center with police scanners, when I got a call that it had just happened, I turned on my police scanner. I like to listen to it at home; in a college town, there's always something interesting going on. But the chill I got listening to a frantic police officer call for MediVacs and said he had 15-20 down was nothing short of scary.

And then, someone called up and said the shooter might be heading my way.

I turned off the lights, closed and locked my door, closed the blinds, turned off the scanner and crouched down away from the door for a while as footsteps went up and down the stairs outside my office. My plan was that if someone started shooting to get into my office, I'd jump on my computer table and then give the drop kick of his life when he busted through. I enjoy amateur wrestling, and was ready to put a gunman into a headlock and knock him silly for a while until the cops got there if need be.

Well, the rumor was false, and I was allowed to leave my office after about an hour for home. I drove home on the only way out, oddly enough, driving close to Cole Hall, where the gunman had killed at least five people.

Five people who never got a "second chance".

As others have stated, God gives us a second chance every time we breathe. Repent when you have the chance and turn to Jesus while you can. An acquaintance I know is one of the ones shot. One of those sometimes will be your LAST time.
Will you be ready for that last sometime?

Sola's note: This morning, the death toll had risen to six.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sometimes, No More Words Are Necessary

In this rather telling piece, the Wall Street Journal's online edition gives an account of the rather despondent mood in the Clinton camp these days. But that isn't what drew my attention in the article. Read the following bit about recently departed Hillary campaign chair Patti Solis Doyle and her return home:

Ms. Solis Doyle recently returned home after two months on the road to find a family accustomed to her absence, she told colleagues. When her 6-year-old son cried out one night recently, he rebuffed his mom, saying, "I want Daddy." Ms. Solis Doyle flew out of the room in tears and told her husband: "Joey doesn't want me. S- this campaign, I'm quitting."

Ironic and sad, isn't it? When you think of the uber-feminist Hillary and all that she stands for (despite denials and subterfuges), here is a very poignant, even heartbreaking, example of what's wrong with the radical feminist concept of family life. It appears Ms. Solis Doyle was reminded rather vividly what her first priority is in life after the Lord. Her family. I hope the lesson is learned in far broader circles than just Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Government's Eye in the Sky (Or Street)

For quite some time, I have been concerned with the growing "surveillance society" both in Western Europe and here in the United States. This editorial column by Selwin Duke captures my concerns in spot-on fashion.

I am all for catching terrorists and criminals. But we ought not have to submit to the draconian when enforcing laws currently on the books would suffice. Unfortunately, in the interest of "peace and safety," all too many are willing to sell freedom down the river. Our Founding Fathers would be ashamed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Autumn of Life

I've been to quite a few funerals in the past few years. I preached two of them and served as a pallbearer at my aunt's funeral last Tuesday. It's got me thinking a bit about how quickly life passes by. Scripture paints the picture very vividly.

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4:14).

As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer (Psalm 103:15-16).

There are many more Scriptures I could cite, but you get the idea. Of course, those of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have the hope of resurrection and eternal life. We know from the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. These promises are comforting, but I think it's healthy and good to ponder just how quickly our lives pass by, and to consider just how we are spending the time God has alloted to us.

I am in my late 40s. It doesn't seem like it's been 30 years since I graduated from high school. It doesn't seem like 30 years since I sat behind a radio microphone for the first time. When I see people with whom I grew up, I am stunned to see the effects of time's passage. Some of us are a bit better preserved than others. I am often told I don't look my age. My bald head gives it away as my face is unlined. I only recently began to have grey showing up in my beard and temples. However, my body tells me of advancing age. I have arthritis in my neck and lower back. I tire more quickly these days. I'm a bit more irritable than before. And so on.

It amazes me that the children I used to take care of now tower over me and can pick me up. They are marrying and having children of their own. My oldest sister will be 64 this year. My mother will be 85. I left full time radio 15 years ago. I have been with my present employer that long. Where does time go? That's another thing about advancing age. Time used to drag on and on when I was younger. Now it seems to race by at warp speed. My joke used to be "Auntie Em, Auntie Em, the hourglass is almost empty." Now it's not as much of a joke.

Will I live to old age? Will I be around to see the return of the Lord, or will I be among those who return with Him? Will I continue to live in a land with relative freedom, or will I witness the onset of persecution and oppression? Will my church continue on the path of biblical truth or will it join so many others these days and plunge into apostasy? I don't know. I just pray that I will be found faithful no matter what happens. Psalm 90:12 asks the Lord to teach us to number our days, that we might present to Him a heart of wisdom. That's a good prayer to keep offering.

I guess my last comment is this. All of us who name the name of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior would do well to keep time in mind. I've certainly wasted enough of it. I don't want to waste any more. May He redeem the time I have left for His glory.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sundry Comments on Current Events

While in Arkansas, the world rolled on even if I was "checked out" for a time. I might have been "checked out," but I was still watching things and having my blood pressure raised accordingly.

1. The Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Rowan Williams (I keep wanting to call him Rowan Atkinson) raised a stinkpot last week when he called for Islamic Law to be recognized in Britain. Later, he said he was shocked . . . shocked . . . at the furor. Williams had a liberal reputation when he was named the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion. Why are we shocked, then, when he proves his liberal credentials by taking such a position? This is yet another example of the Communion's ill health. I agree with those who say Rowan Williams should step down. The Anglican Communion will only return to good spiritual health when it returns to sound biblical doctrine. Until then, churches that still value the Word of God will continue to leave.

2. Nebraska Supreme Court

Nebraska's Supreme Court chopped yet another hole in the death penalty late last week when they ruled the electric chair unconstitutional under the state's constitution. The governor rightly blasted the ruling as the meanderings of an activist court bound and determined to put the death penalty down, even though the court didn't strike directly at the death penalty. Very likely, no matter what method the legislature decides to endorse, the court will also somehow find it to be "cruel and unusual punishment." I've got a better idea. Judges or justices that refuse to do what they are supposed to do and interpret the law instead of legislating from the bench need to be impeached and removed from the bench. The United States Constitution allows Congress to restrict the jurisdiction of the courts. This needs to happen with out of control state courts. If there is no provision in state constitutions to allow for this, amend the constitutions and put it in there. In the case of a really out of control court, there is the option to do what Andrew Jackson did and ignore the ruling. People tend to forget that the judicial branch is one of three co-equal branches. The courts are NOT the last word on a subject. Today, we tend to think of the courts as the final authority. They are not and were never intended to be.

3. The Primaries

I find the current primary process very interesting, especially the outcomes. Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee continue to surprise people. I do know this. I do not trust John McCain and will find it very hard to vote for him. There is no way I would ever vote for either Obama or Hillary. I may end up casting my vote for the Taxpayer's Party or something similar, but I am not going to be forced to vote for someone who has never missed an opportunity to stick it to conservatives. Even McCain's speech at the recent conservative conference demonstrated no real effort to mend the fence, at least one that satisfied me. If McCain is the nominee, look for a Democratic victory in November. Bob Dole all over again.

That's all for now. My next post will hopefully deal with spiritual matters, perhaps the next part of my Ephesians study. I think we'll certainly find God's Word more satisfying than focusing on the culture going to Hell in a handbasket.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Brief Followup On Baptism

I am now back from the funeral and have lots to do, including dealing with a foot of snow. But I have this quick comment on the previous post. A comment in the meta prompted this.

I was asked in essence why all the hullabaloo over baptism. After all, we are commanded to do it, aren't we?

The reason the debate over baptismal regeneration is important is because the Gospel itself is at stake. If you believe works of any kind have a role in your salvation, you are not saved at all. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, and to God alone be the glory.

Yes, we are commanded to be baptized. Jesus commands us to do all sorts of things. But we obey his commands BECAUSE we are saved and love Him, not to result in our salvation. Understanding this is vital.

I will be back to regular posts as soon as I dig in. Literally.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Refuting Baptismal Regeneration

Sola's note: I will not be posting again until the end of next week due to the death of my aunt in Arkansas. We are leaving for the funeral tomorrow. I would appreciate prayers for the family.

My Aunt Diane was one of the bravest people I know, fighting multiple schlerosis for more than 50 years. It's a testament to God's grace and her fighting spirit that she survived that long with such a debilitating illness.

I don't want to leave you with nothing to read and ponder while I am away, so I am going to post (with permission) an excellent refutation of baptismal regeneration. It is posted "as is" with no edits for grammar, punctuation etc. This is a subject I've been having to deal with of late. I hope you find it useful.

Until my return, may the Lord bless you abundantly.

For HIM,

Scriptural Study Refuting
Baptismal Regeneration

By Dan Corner

Permission is granted to reproduce this in its entirety only.

It is the purpose of this study to examine the Bible's teaching regarding water baptism. Since there are several groups, some of which are very zealous, that stress the necessity of water baptism for the forgiveness of sins, this automatically makes this subject very important to: (1) Those proponents; (2) Those to whom this view of water baptism is presented; and (3) The Christian worker who desires to "contend for the faith," Jude 3.

The groups that teach that one MUST be water baptized to get his/her sins forgiven are: Church of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, Roman Catholics, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Mormons (LDS), Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), Apostolics (Jesus Only or United Pentecostals), Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, Lutherans and others.

IF the proof texts used by these groups can be Biblically refuted, while harmony is maintained with other verses on both water baptism and salvation, then logic would declare that these groups are disseminating "another gospel," Gal. 1:8,9. IF this can be shown, then such a teaching is lethal to the individual who accepts it. Furthermore, this would also identify those who teach such as "deceitful workers" (2 Cor. 11:3-15). Before we proceed, it MUST be mentioned that many SINCERE and WELL-MEANING people, who never took the time to think these things out, believe this way! Some were raised believing this way, while other adherents never CAREFULLY considered all pertinent Scriptures on this topic. Finally, let it be noted that LOVE AND CONCERN FOR THE TRUTH are the motives in this expose. Please bear this in mind as YOU consider the points made in both the defensive and offensive parts of this study. Thank you.

Acts 10:43

Before we move to the most commonly used verses to support the teaching of baptismal regeneration (or the concept that baptism is imperative for one's salvation), let's take a close look at HOW and WHEN Cornelius and his household were saved. As we carefully examine this, please remember that for those of us in New Testament times there is but ONE WAY to get saved (Jn 14:6)! THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS! This means that YOU and I are saved the SAME EXACT WAY that Cornelius and his household were saved (Acts 15:9,11)! To get the full impact of how they got saved and at what point God purified their hearts, we must consider these related Scriptures: Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18 and 15:7-11. If YOU study those verses, you will see that the reason the angel came to Cornelius was to tell him where to find Simon Peter so he and his entire household could be saved through a message from Peter's lips (Acts 11:13,14; 15:7). THIS MAKES THAT MESSAGE VERY IMPORTANT. It BEGINS at Acts 10:34 and ENDS with verse 43, when Cornelius and his household received the "gift of the Holy Ghost." AFTERWARDS, they were water baptized (Acts 10:44-48). The KEY VERSE in Peter's salvation sermon is ACTS 10:43, "To him (Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." After Peter spoke these important words, his sermon (which brought instant salvation), was interrupted by the Holy Ghost because those gathered "believed" (TRUSTED) IN JESUS FOR THEIR SALVATION, as Peter just declared. At this point, and most importantly, BEFORE water baptism, Cornelius and his household had everlasting life as Jesus promised (Jn. 6:47). Also, in the "light" of Acts 10:43, their sins WERE FORGIVEN. ALL THIS OCCURRED BEFORE THEY WERE WATER BAPTIZED (Acts 10:44-48)! This also means they contacted the blood of Jesus Christ BEFORE water baptism! How can we be SURE of this? The clearest way to know that baptism was and is EXCLUDED from the TRUE MESSAGE THAT BRINGS SALVATION and FORGIVENESS OF SINS, is to go to Acts 15:7-11! These verses refer back to the event that is recorded in Acts 10, that is, Cornelius' salvation. At Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter reports that his sermon to Cornelius (Acts 10:34-43) is the "Gospel," Acts 15:7. Peter then stated that God, who knows man's heart, including Cornelius' and his household's, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them. Again, this happened BEFORE they were water baptized. This shows that those Gentiles' hearts WERE PURIFIED BY FAITH (Acts 15:9) prior to their water baptism and God gave a sign (tongues) to the Jewish Christians gathered as verification of His acceptance of them! Then in verse 11, Peter explicitly affirms the truth that ALL (Jews and Gentiles) are saved as Cornelius and his household were, when they placed ALL (100%) OF THEIR TRUST IN JESUS FOR THEIR SALVATION.

To summarize, we just learned: (1) That the "Gospel" does NOT include water baptism; (2) Forgiveness of sins, everlasting life and a purified heart occur at the moment one places ALL (100%) of his/her TRUST IN JESUS ALONE FOR SALVATION; (3) Jews and Gentiles are saved the same way. Also, God gave an outward sign that Cornelius and his household's hearts were purified by faith BEFORE water baptism! Therefore, we know that water baptism is EXCLUDED from the message of FAITH IN JESUS FOR SALVATION! Peter afterwards baptized these new adult Christians. [The Bible does NOT teach baby baptism!]

Most importantly, don't ever forget that we today are saved in the SAME WAY as Cornelius was, Acts 15:9,11! Remember also that "the gift of the Holy Ghost" that Cornelius received BEFORE baptism shows that God had filled him with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4). To argue that Cornelius was NOT saved until he was baptized is to say indirectly that God fills unsaved people or "children of the devil" (1 Jn. 3:10) with the Holy Ghost! This is ludicrous to a student of the Bible.

Finally, according to Acts 2:38, one receives forgiveness of sins BEFORE the "gift of the Holy Ghost." Since Cornelius received the "gift" BEFORE water baptism, we, therefore, know his sins were forgiven BEFORE water baptism! In other words, if A comes before B and B comes before C, then A comes before C. (Also, see explanation on Acts 2:38). Before YOU move on, please reread these points as YOU verify them FOR YOURSELF IN YOUR OWN BIBLE. (These Scriptures clearly refute the theory that the blood of Christ is contacted in the waters of baptism.)

Forgiveness of sins COMES BEFORE the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).
The gift of the Holy Ghost COMES BEFORE water baptism (Acts 10:43-48).
Therefore, forgiveness of sins COMES BEFORE water baptism.

Let's now move on to some other verses you probably have in mind:

Acts 2:38

This important verse in our study reads, "Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.'" This verse, along with Mark 16:16, is probably quoted more than any other verse by the groups mentioned in the beginning of this study to support the erroneous teaching that water baptism plays some role in our soul's salvation. But does it really teach such? Let's take a close look at it. Bob Ross in his book, Acts 2:38 and Baptismal Remission, pp.45-48 (Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, TX, 1976 edition) makes some important points about this verse and its three clauses:

"The American Standard Version (1901) renders Acts 2:38 as follows: Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"... there are three clauses in this sentence, and the modifying phrases must stand in their respective, individual clauses, according to the rules of grammar. Consequently, if 'repent' is in a distinct clause from 'be baptized for the remission of sins,' the modifying phrase cannot modify both 'repent' and 'be baptized'

"The three clauses are --

(1) 'Repent ye:'

'ye' -- subject, second person plural number.

'Repent' -- verb, second person plural number, aorist imperative active voice.

(2) 'be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins:'

'be baptized' -- verb, third person singular number, aorist passive imperative voice.

'unto the remission of your sins' -- modifying phrase.

(3) 'ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit:'

'ye' -- subject, second person plural number.

'shall receive' -- verb, second person plural number, future, indicative voice.

'the gift of the Holy Spirit' -- direct object of verb.

"For the claims of Campbellism to be upheld, the first and second clauses would have to be connected so as to allow 'for the remission of sins' to modify both 'repent' and 'be baptized.' However, this presents the following grammatical problem: In the first clause, the person and number of the verb 'repent' do not agree with the verb 'be baptized' in the second clause. 'Repent' is second person plural number; 'be baptized' is third person singular number.

"It is a rule of Greek grammar, as it is in English, that the verb agrees with its subject in person and number:" (emphasis his).

Ross then cites in his book a quote from Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1950), p.12:

"Person is the quality of verbs which indicates whether the subject is speaking (first person), is being spoken to (second person), or is being spoken of (third person) ...

"Number is the quality of verbs which indicates whether the subject is singular or plural" (emphasis his).

Ross goes on by citing yet another relevant quote from Let's Study Greek by Clarence B. Hale (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), p. 9:

"If the subject of a verb is the person or the group of persons speaking, the verb is in the first person. If the subject of a verb is the person or group of persons spoken to, the verb is in the second person. If the subject of a verb is the person or the thing or the group spoken of, the verb is the third person" (emphasis his).

"These quotations from 'standard' Greek grammars express the simple fact that subjects and verbs agree with one another.

"It is evident, then, that repentance and baptism in Acts 2:38 cannot be combined so as to have both modified by the phrase, 'for the remission of sins.' The proper grammatical construction of the sentence forbids it ....

"The phrase, 'for the remission of sins,' stands and modifies in only one of the three clauses, namely, the second clause ..." (emphasis his).

To understand Acts 2:38 without any Greek aids, please notice that the "gift of the Holy Ghost" FOLLOWS the remission of sins, according to this verse. Remembering this, note ACTS 10:45. There we see that Cornelius received the "gift of the Holy Ghost" BEFORE he was water baptized! Yet, according to Acts 2:38, one cannot receive the "gift of the Holy Ghost" unless his sins are forgiven! Acts 10 clarifies that the "remission of sins" in Acts 2:38 can ONLY refer to the verb "repent."

It is also commonly believed, because of faulty teaching, that the word "for" as used in Acts 2:38 MUST mean "in order to obtain." However, this is NOT true either! In LUKE 5:13,14 we read of a leper who was immediately healed when Jesus touched him and spoke. After his healing, Jesus told him, "... go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer FOR thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." Notice: the man ALREADY HAD his cleansing from leprosy when Jesus told him to go to the priest and bring an offering "FOR THY CLEANSING." If you tried to substitute "in order to obtain" in place of the word "for" in Lk. 5:13,14 it would NOT fit!

Similarly, the common remedy, "take two aspirins FOR a headache," refutes the idea that "for" MUST mean "in order to obtain." (No one would take two aspirins "in order to obtain" a headache!)

Galatians 3:27

This verse reads, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." At this point, it is imperative to state that there are PLURAL "baptisms" referred to in the Bible (Heb. 6:2). Therefore, NOT every baptism refers to water baptism! This verse is one that does NOT. How then do we get "baptized into Christ?" The answer is found in 1 Cor. 12:13, which says, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ..." It's NOT "by water" that we are "baptized into one body," but instead "by one Spirit." (See also Titus 3:5.) Galatians 3:27 has NO REFERENCE to water baptism! Also, the "one baptism" of EPH. 4:5 is related to 1 Cor. 12:13, which also has NO connection to water baptism. Furthermore, this "baptism" into the body of Christ occurs at the moment a person has repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). [Reader, is this what YOU have done?]

John 3:5

Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." It is assumed by some that the word "water" in this verse MUST refer to water baptism. However, this is NOT true! In Eph. 5:26 we read, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of WATER BY THE WORD." Here we see that the Word of God is likened unto WATER. Also, 1 Peter 1:23 reads, "Being BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the WORD OF GOD, which liveth and abideth for ever."

It should now be clear to all that the Word of God is instrumental in one being "born again," and is also likened unto WATER. (See also James 1:18,21). Bearing all this in mind, we can now see that the "water" of Jn. 3:5 CAN be the Word of God. It must also be noted that the same Greek word translated "born" in Jn. 3:5 is translated "begotten" in 1 Cor. 4:15. This is IMPORTANT since Paul begat ALL at Corinth through the Gospel (1 Cor. 4:15), but he did NOT baptize ALL at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14-16)!

Probably the CLEAREST and EASIEST way to resolve this enigma of the "water" in Jn. 3:5 is to focus our attention on JN. 20:31. THIS VERSE IS VERY IMPORTANT! In fact, it declares THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF JOHN, which obviously includes Jn. 3:5. It states that it was written so that we "might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." In other words, John was written so that we could learn about salvation and become Christians. Therefore, the MOST IMPORTANT book in the entire Bible to study to learn about salvation is John, and NOT ACTS as some would like us to believe so they can emphasize certain verses! (Were YOU taught this?) Furthermore, Christian baptism is ONLY referred to in the beginning of chapter 4 in this Gospel, with NO POSSIBLE connection with salvation! (John's Gospel de-emphasizes water baptism. Conversely, it emphasizes TRUST IN JESUS ALONE FOR SALVATION!) To add force to the importance of John's Gospel regarding this controversy about water baptism, it should be mentioned that it was written in about 90 A.D. This means it was written AFTER Pentecost, where Acts 2:38 was first preached. THIS TRUTH ALONE IS DEVASTATING TO SOME GROUPS!

Finally, the entire third chapter of John is summed up in Jn. 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath (present tense) everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." NOTICE: The emphasis is placed on believing in Jesus. (Repentance is understood in the meaning of belief in Jesus which brings salvation.)

Acts 22:16

This verse reads, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Several important points must be noted regarding this passage.

First, the "WASH[ING] AWAY [OF] THY SINS" is coordinated with "calling on the name of the Lord." In other words, it's the SAME ONE who calls on the name of the Lord that gets his/her sins washed away! A person getting baptized does NOT do this!

Second, if you'll read Acts chapters 9, 22 and 26, you'll get the full picture of what happened with Saul and Ananias. A VERY IMPORTANT verse relevant to the proper understanding of Acts 22:16 is ACTS 9:17. This verse tells us WHY the Lord Jesus sent Ananias to Saul (Paul)! Ananias said, "... Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." Therefore, the twofold purpose the Lord sent Ananias to Saul was (1) So he would receive his physical eyesight and (2) Get filled with the Holy Ghost. The point is: JESUS NEVER SENT ANANIAS TO HIS "CHOSEN VESSEL" TO GET HIM SAVED! He was already saved! IF Saul still needed to get saved when Jesus was informing Ananias what to do, He certainly would have known it and would have put that on the top of Ananias' list! However, Jesus NEVER EVEN INDIRECTLY MENTIONED SUCH as He sent Ananias forth! Can YOU see this? Also, when one is sent to another to get him filled with the Holy Ghost, as Ananias was sent, the person to be filled is ALWAYS A CHRISTIAN ALREADY (Acts 8:14-17)! These verses report that the Apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to those in Samaria, WHO WERE ALREADY SAVED, so they might receive the Holy Ghost!

Thirdly, Paul stated about the Gospel, "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ," Gal. 1:12. IF Paul learned the Gospel (the plan of salvation) from Ananias, which would be the case IF Acts 22:16 means as certain groups interpret it, then Paul could have NEVER said this! (Finally, related to Saul's conversion on the Damascus road is Acts 26:17,18. When compared to 1 Cor. 1:17, this combination is devastating to those who think water baptism plays some role in our salvation! More will be said on this later.)

Mark 16:16

Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Does this verse teach the necessity of baptism for salvation? Many stress the first half of this verse to "prove" such.

Please notice that this verse refers to ONLY two types of people: (1) Those that believe and are baptized and (2) Those that don't believe. THIS VERSE DOES NOT REFER TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS, BUT HAVE NOT YET BEEN BAPTIZED. However, Jn. 6:47 DOES! Jesus said in that verse, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me HATH everlasting life." See also Jn. 3:15. The "light" from these verses added to the "light" in Mark 16:16 clarifies, once again, that baptism has NO ROLE in our soul's salvation. After all, since we are saved when we TRUST ON JESUS FOR OUR SALVATION (Jn. 3:15; 6:47; Acts 16:31), it should come as no surprise that we will be saved when we TRUST ON JESUS and get baptized as well, as Mark 16:16a teaches! Can you see this?

Also, the latter part of Mark 16:16 states what damns, that is, NOT TRUSTING IN JESUS! The latter part of Mk. 16:16 reveals whether it is BELIEVING and/or BAPTISM that is important for salvation. (This is probably why many who stress the first part of this verse often neglect to mention the last part of Mark 16:16!) A comparable sentence construct to Mark 16:16 is: "He that starts his car and puts on his hat will drive home; but he that doesn't start his car won't." From this comparison, it should be apparent that putting on a hat (likened to getting baptized) has nothing to do with driving home (likened to getting saved). Does that help you understand Mark 16:16? Remember, we MUST find A HARMONIOUS INTERPRETATION THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE before we can be sure that we understand any given verse. IF you still insist on stressing Mark 16:16a, then you must ignore JN. 6:47! Are YOU willing to do that?

Lastly, it must also be pointed out that many who stress Mark 16:16 will argue inconsistently to make their point. They contend that baptism is incorporated into BELIEVING, then later turn around and say that we must BELIEVE AND be BAPTIZED to be saved using Mark 16:16 while doing so! Mark 16:16 states that we "BELIEVE" BEFORE AND WITHOUT BAPTISM! Furthermore, those at Corinth clearly BELIEVED BEFORE they were baptized. This is shown in ACTS 18:8 which reads, "Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him BELIEVED and were BAPTIZED."

REMEMBER THIS: it's the unbelievers (and seven other categories, according to Rev. 21:8) who get condemned, NOT the unbaptized! NOWHERE in the entire Bible does it say, "He that is not baptized is condemned!" Please reread this section on Mark 16:16.

1 Peter 3:20,21

These verses read, "... eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Unfortunately, some teachers have taken parts of these verses out of context and therefore misled their listeners. The words, "saved by water," are an example. The context reveals that the subjects, the eight souls "saved," were those in NOAH'S ARK! Also, other reputable translations (NIV, Amplified, Revised Standard, etc.) read "saved THROUGH water," since the Greek work (di) translated "by" in the KJV also means "THROUGH." The eight people in the ark were "saved THROUGH water" as they were in the ark (a type of Christ). THEY WERE NOT SAVED BY THE WATER, AS THE CONTEXT REVEALS. Heb. 11:7 is very clear on this point.

At this point, it must be noted that every time the word "save" or its derivative is used, it does NOT always refer to one's immortal soul! A few examples are: "the prayer of faith shall SAVE the sick" (James 5:15) and "all hope that we should be SAVED was taken away" (Acts 27:20). Neither one of these last two cited references refer to the soul. They are just like 1 Peter 3:21 in this aspect!

WHAT does water baptism SAVE us from? Verse 21 says water baptism SAVES us from a bad conscience towards God. Having a good conscience (and holding on to faith) are important as shown by some rejecting these who consequently have shipwrecked their faith (1 Tim. 1:18,19). However, as important as baptism is, it still plays NO ROLE, direct or indirect, in initial salvation, or as we might also say, getting "born again." Baptism does NOT put away the "FILTH OF THE FLESH" (v.21). See Gal. 5:19-21 for a list of these sins. (Remember Cornelius, Acts 10:43-48 cf. 15:9-11).

NOTE: The context of 1 Pet. 3:20,21 reveals that ONLY the righteous (Noah and his family) were DRY and therefore SAFE. In contrast, ONLY THE WICKED IN NOAH'S DAY CAME IN CONTACT WITH THE WATER AND THEY ALL PERISHED! Considering all this, does it seem to you that some are wresting 1 Pet. 3:20,21 out of context and, perhaps even "unto their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16)?

Romans 6:3-5

These verses read, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."

The KEY to the understanding of these verses are the words, "LIKE" and "LIKENESS." These words show that these verses are to be symbolically and NOT literally interpreted. We might say, "This person is like that person," but by this we are not saying he is the same as that person! In the same way, baptism bears some resemblance to Christ's death, burial and resurrection in that it identifies us with his death, but it is NOT His death or His burial or His resurrection. BAPTISM, THEREFORE, IS A "LIKENESS" AND NOT THE REALITY. The only way we can identify with Jesus' bodily resurrection from the grave is for this passage to be non-literal. By baptism, a person who is already saved identifies with Christ's death, burial and resurrection in a symbolic way.

1 Cor. 1:17 will shed more "light," in an overall way, on this important subject of baptism. In this verse Paul declares, "For Christ SENT me NOT to baptize, but to preach the gospel ..." From this we see what Christ "SENT" Paul to do and what Christ "SENT" Paul NOT to do. Since Christ "SENT" Paul to preach the Gospel, but NOT to baptize, then it's impossible for baptism to be included in the Gospel! (The Gospel is the message that brings salvation, Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 4:15 and 15:2). This last reference reads, "By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. OTHERWISE, YOU HAVE BELIEVED IN VAIN," NIV. (Like it or not, this is what that verse teaches!)

We should also carefully compare ACTS 26:17,18 with 1 Cor. 1:17. This will help us understand baptism even more when we compare these verses. In 1 Cor. 1:17, Paul writes of what happened in Acts 26:17,18. Let's take a close look at these verses. There Jesus said, "... now I SEND thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." THIS IS WHY CHRIST SENT PAUL. (All this can be accomplished by preaching the Gospel.) Notice that one of the reasons listed as to why Christ "SENT" Paul was so others could "receive forgiveness of sins." Now, look at 1 Cor. 1:17 again. Paul tells those at Corinth WHAT Christ SENT him to do. He said that Christ SENT him to preach the Gospel, not to baptize. This means that we "receive forgiveness of sins" WITHOUT baptism! This is just like ACTS 10:43. Can YOU see this? (This isn't to say that Paul never baptized anyone, for he did! Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas were baptized by Paul, 1 Cor. 1:14,16). The point is: Paul was NOT "SENT" to baptize! Paul prayed, fasted, took an offering to Jerusalem, and drove a demon out of a girl with the name of "Jesus," but he wasn't directly SENT by Jesus to do these things either! However, he was "SENT" to preach the Gospel.) Please consider the following syllogism based on Acts 26:17,18 and 1 Cor. 1:17 ....

Christ SENT Paul forth so that others could receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 26:17,18).
Christ did NOT SEND Paul to water baptize (1 Cor. 1:17).
Therefore, one receives forgiveness of sins WITHOUT water baptism.

How was Paul able to get others to "receive forgiveness of sins?" Read his message to the unsaved in Acts 13:38,39; 16:30,31 and 20:21. This same truth is reiterated throughout the New Testament (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Romans 4:4-6, 9:30-10:4; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:9, etc.)

When a person teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation, by implication he is saying that the unsaved are at the mercy of the following conditions for their salvation: (1) Enough water to be immersed in for a Scriptural baptism, and (2) A WILLING and QUALIFIED person (a Christian) to do the baptizing before they can get saved! This would make the blood of Christ of NO EFFECT for him or anyone else who sincerely wanted to repent and get saved, but couldn't find a Christian who could and would baptize him in enough water to be a genuine Christian baptism! Hypothetically, this means that an unsaved person either in an arid place with a Christian friend OR stranded on an island by himself with a Bible, could NEVER get saved! This is the logical conclusion from the teaching that water baptism is necessary for salvation. This would also make the person doing the baptizing a MEDIATOR with Christ between the unsaved and God! However, 1 Tim 2:5 states that Jesus is our ONLY mediator. Furthermore, if baptism was a necessity for the salvation of the lone man on the island, then 2 Cor. 6:2 would also be untrue! This verse teaches that "today" and "now" is the time for salvation, which implies that we can get saved instantly on any given day, at any given place, even if we couldn't be baptized immediately! However, 2 Cor. 6:2 is true! And the stranded man on that island can get saved without a second mediator, because he can REPENT and extend a TRUSTING AND SUBMITTING FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST FOR HIS SALVATION.

A Trusting-Submitting Faith In Jesus Saves

"But wasn't Jesus baptized?" someone might ask. Yes, but NOT TO GET HIS SINS FORGIVEN! HE DID NOT HAVE ANY! Why then was He? See Matthew 3:15, 16 for the answer. Also, Jn. 1:31 says, "I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel," NIV. "Aren't we commanded to get baptized?," others ask. Yes, but WE STILL RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF SINS BEFORE AND WITHOUT WATER BAPTISM, as Cornelius clearly did!

Friend, only God knows how many are in "eternal fire" today because he/she sincerely believed a wrong plan of salvation, either before they could get saved or after their conversion (Gal. 5:2-4; 1 Jn. 2:24; 2 Jn. 9). If believed before, true conversion did NOT take place! If believed after true conversion, then such would "fall from grace" (Gal.5:2-4) and be without God (2 Jn. 9).

Remember Rom. 3:22, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Please note the word, "believe" here is a continuous tense! We are NOT saved by good works, Eph. 2:8,9. However, good works will IDENTIFY a saving faith in Jesus (Jam. 2:14; Tit. 1:16 and 1 Jn. 2:3,4), if our doctrine about salvation is correct.

Finally, for you to try to MIX works and grace for your salvation is DEADLY, according to ROM. 11:6! This important verse states that you are either trusting in: (1) God's grace (Jesus and His work on the cross) or (2) Your own good works for your salvation! YOU CANNOT MIX GRACE AND WORKS according to this verse! To TRUST in Jesus 99% and good works 1% for your salvation, is the SAME as placing ALL your trust in good works, which would be DISASTROUS. The ONLY way that YOU and I can escape Hell, a literal place of torment, is to place ALL (100%) OF OUR TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST FOR OUR SALVATION. Remember Jn. 6:47.

Also remember this important verse: Acts 20:21, "... they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus," NIV. Did YOU know that the Greek word translated, "believe" (which we must extend towards Christ to be saved) means: TO TRUST IN; RELY UPON AND CLING TO? In other words, IF we are really "believing on Jesus" for our salvation, then we are placing ALL (100%) of our TRUST in Him ALONE. This means that we canNOT mix in good works, church membership, the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, communion, confirmation, Saturday-Sabbath keeping, Mary and/or BAPTISM with our TRUST IN JESUS for our salvation! Remember, Jesus is our LIFE (Jn. 14:6), our SWEETNESS (Matt. 11:29), our HOPE (1 Tim. 1:1), our ONLY mediator (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15), our HIGH PRIEST (Heb. 7:23-28), the TRUE vine (Jn. 15:1), the ROCK (1 Cor. 10:4), the DOOR to Heaven (Jn. 10:9), and the ONLY WAY to the Father (Jn. 14:6). He died ONCE for ALL sins (Is. 53:6, Acts 13:38,39; Heb. 10:10-14) and has the ONLY name under Heaven in which salvation is found (Acts 4:12). He invites ALL to come DIRECTLY to Himself for eternal life (Jn. 5:40; 6:35; 7:37; Matt. 11:28-30). He won't reject YOU (Jn. 6:37). He loves YOU! He wants YOU to spend eternity with Him. However, IF YOU refuse His invitation and His Gospel, you are saying indirectly that YOU don't NEED Him, WANT Him, or YOU don't think He is ABLE to save you BY HIMSELF. IF YOU "reject" Jesus (Jn. 12:48) by rejecting His Gospel, then HIS very words will be your judge and they will condemn YOU (Jn. 12:48, Rev. 21:7,8)! The choice is YOURS. YOU MUST DECIDE. YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY HINGES ON YOUR DECISION. WHAT WILL YOU DO? Remember friend, since Jesus is the Judge (Jn. 5:22), YOU can't possibly go wrong or be deceived by accepting His plan of salvation! (Remember His words in Jn. 6:47 and Lk. 13:3.)

Sincerely Pray This To Be Sure

Father in Heaven, humbly I ask you to have MERCY ON ME A SINNER (Luke 18:13). I am now willing to totally turn from my all 100% of my sins, and FOLLOW JESUS UNASHAMEDLY in this wicked age (Lk. 9:23-26; 13:3; Jn. 8:12; 10:27). I believe in my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead and I now confess Him as "Lord" (Rom. 10:9,10). Lord Jesus, I now ask you for eternal life (Jn. 5:40). I thank you that I am now saved. All my sins are NOW forgiven. I know this because you won't reject anyone (Jn. 6:37). I will FOLLOW you, Lord, ALL the days of my life (Luke 9:23) as I TRUST you and STUDY THE BIBLE for strength (Phil. 4:13; Acts 20:32). Jesus, ALL (100%) of my TRUST is now in you ALONE for my soul's salvation. I believe that you are the ALL-SUFFICIENT Savior. Amen.

It's Very Important For You ...

Friend, it's VERY IMPORTANT for YOU to attend a congregation somewhere in your vicinity where the true plan of salvation is being preached and evangelism is emphasized. Don't stay in a congregation because you were raised there or because its location is close and convenient to attend! Find a Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching, Christ-exalting church that lovingly spreads and boldly stands for the TRUE Gospel, where the pastor is zealous, fears God, and doesn't compromise the truth to please man or build his own ministry over the Kingdom of God. Also, make sure unconditional eternal security is NOT being taught there. This is also very important. The lie of eternal security has certainly sent multitudes to Hell!

This point of church attendance canNOT be over-emphasized! Remember also that true worshippers of God MUST "worship in SPIRIT and in TRUTH" (Jn. 4:23,24). See also Rom. 16:17,18.

Finally, if YOU have decided to repent and trust Jesus ALONE (100%) for your salvation, you need to be water baptized by immersion. This is the Biblical way. This is important for ALL saved people to do, as soon as possible, after conversion. Note: one gets water baptized AFTER he becomes a Christian, not to become a Christian!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cultural Relativism in the Church

I would like to apologize for the dearth of posts over the past few days. I am always busy, but lately it's been nuts. Add to the mix some rather intense winter storms causing havoc, and I can now use the term "snowed under" and literally mean it.

For today, I'd like to take a very brief look at what is called "cultural relativism." I began dealing with this some months ago when putting together a syllabus on Christian ethics using Scripture, plus some supplemental material from very fine teachers on the subject -- Christian Ethics in a Postmodern World by Dr. James P. Eckman, and Biblical Ethics by Dr. Robertson McQuilken.

In essence, cultural relativism argues that whatever a cultural group approves of becomes right, while whatever the group disapproves of is wrong. There are no fixed principles to guide developing moral codes, therefore culture determines what is right and wrong. Every culture develops its own moral standards and no other culture has the right to judge another’s value system.

It is one thing to see this mindset in the culture around us, but when this mindset gets a foothold in the church, it is beyond troubling. In light of this, examine the following Scriptures: Deuteronomy 12:8, Judges 17:8 and 21:25, Proverbs 12:15 and 21:2. Those are just for starters.

A relativist mindset in the church -- not to mention society as a whole -- has serious consequences that ought to be considered. I myself have experienced the recoil of some of today's students who are unwilling to condemn evil moral horrors because they don’t think they have the right to criticize another. In the church, we often hear Jesus' injunction, "Judge not," thrown up by those seemingly unaware that they are taking that statement out of context and out of balance with Jesus' other statement, "Judge with righteous judgment." The Apostle Paul makes it clear that there are matters that we are to judge, and that includes sinful behavior in the church, as well as correcting false teachers that arise in our midst.

I'll have more to say on this later as time affords.