Monday, April 24, 2017

If Heaven Is Not Real

"If it were not so, I would have told you.” (Jn.14:2)
As my dear old mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins, used to say, “If it wasn't so, He’d have told us so.” Some say our Lord is only using a figure of speech, thinking it will lessen our hope. I say, if a figure, a figure of what? Even if true, the substance is greater than the shadow, and the object than the picture. I agree with C.S. Lewis. If what our Lord is saying is symbolic language, then He is attempting to express the inexpressible to us. WOW! How much greater then, will heaven be?

The atheist, who is all dressed up with no place to go, takes it a step further. He holds there is no heaven. The pagans of old would disagree with this pseudo-enlightened, intellectual dunce. The ancient Eskimo believed there was a land awaiting him where he would sit down and eat his whale blubber to the full. The American indian spoke of a happy hunting ground, he would enter at death. And the Egyptians were buried with their treasures, believing they’d take with them into the next world.

Think of it, if there is no heaven, Jesus lied to His followers. This means we’ll never see our loved ones again; we don’t have a home to go to. We’ll be eternally homeless, wandering the streets of nowhere. And in this life we’ll be miserable, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (1Cor.15:19)

But, thank God, in spite of the lack of preaching today on heaven, and the difficulty of finding a good contemporary book on the subject, along with the muted songs about this place we saints call home, this doesn’t void it. We, with father Abraham and all the elect through the ages, are also looking for that City whose builder and maker is God. And as my dear wife has sung for years, upon entering it, we all will say, “Finally Home!”

“I believe in Heaven. If I’m dreaming, don’t wake me; let me dream on.” (Evangelist D.L. Moody)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Assurance the Beloved is Yours

"My beloved is mine, and I am his...Until the day break, and the shadows flee away.” (Song 2:16-17)

An old time preacher taught his son to know a thing, and then to know you know it. This is primarily what John teaches in his little book of 1 John chapter 2 verse 3. “And hereby we do know that we know Him

Many professing Christians have problems with assurance that the Lord is theirs during times of darkness. From the above text we see one will never know the former till the latter is settled. You will know the Beloved is truly yours when the Beloved knows you are truly His! The same principle is seen in the life of the Man Christ Jesus, when He said, “All mine are thine, and thine are mine. (John 17:10). God had all of Him and He had all of God.

Divided allegiance always brings doubts. Those who sing “Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine,” with confidence, are those who can truthfully say, “He has all there is of me. There is nothing left to give.”

God revealing Himself to the individual Christian generally has to do with how much of that man or woman God  possesses! May we say to our heavenly KING, the greater than David, what Amasai said to his earthly king, David. “Then the spirit came upon Amasai... and he said, Thine are we, David.” (1 Chron.12:18) That is, as the song says, “I am thine O Lord.”

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Golden Rule...of Prayer

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. 7:12)

The Golden Rule, as it has come to be known, is well known, especially, throughout Christendom. But any truthful observer will have to admit, it is practiced by few. Most adhere to Samson’s rule. “As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.” (Judges 15:11)

The simple reason God’s Golden Rule has not been implemented in our lives is because we are self-centered, rather than Christ-Centered. If a person or thing does not revolve around us. If it or they, do not touch some area of our lives, if we do not benefit, there is little, or no concern from us.

Years ago, while interceding in prayer for someone, I was impressed with a life changing thought. I’ve tried my dead level best to follow through with it, though I have fallen short at times. The thought I had was, if I applied the Golden Rule to my prayer life, then my prayer life would be revolutionized. And it was!

My Golden Rule...of prayer is: “PRAY FOR OTHERS, AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM PRAY FOR YOU.” As the prophet of old said, “I sat where they sat. How would you want people to pray for you if it were your wayward child, your broken health, your financial dilemma, your overpowering habit, your Satanic temptation, or your crumbling family? The list is innumerable. What we’re speaking of is life.

How we need to heed the words of the writer of Hebrews, addressing the early suffering Hebrew Christians. “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” (Heb. 13:2) Pray for them the way you want them to pray for you, when your time of trial comes.

Paul sums up for us what the Christian’s philosophy in prayer should be, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Christ, Historically and Heavenly Viewed

I realize I have written much on the following subject, but as Peter said to his readers, “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.”

Every modernistic theologian, as well as the secular world, along with cults and isms, makes much ado about the historic Christ, as found in the gospels. When attempting to prove their point they’re noticeably consistent in avoiding the Pauline epistles, which puts the emphasis on the heavenly Christ. True, you cannot have one without the other, for each necessitates the other.  But just as true is progressive revelation. The new is enfolded in the old, but the old is unfolded in the new.

Now we can understand Paul’s statement, “though we have known Christ after the flesh (historically), yet now henceforth know we [Him] no more.” It is no longer the historic Christ, as important as this might be, but the heavenly Christ we are to give our attention to. As long as Christians worship a babe, they themselves will remain one. The days of His flesh are ended (Heb.5:7). Or as my pastor friend in Canada brought to my attention, we must get past the veil of His flesh, if we are to find and know God.

It is in Paul’s writings alone we learn the truths pertinent to how we, in this church age, are to live. Paul’s revelation is what Jesus wanted to say while here on earth but couldn’t. He told His disciples they were not ready, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

Therefore, let me challenge each saint, not to be remiss in reading Paul’s letters. Read and re-read them often. They were written particularly with you in mind!  
All the Bible is for us, but not all of it is to us, or about us.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Bound Resurrected Life

What good is a resurrected life if you’re still bound in grave clothes? Lazarus could attest to this truth. Jesus preformed the miracle of giving Lazarus life but used others as the means of loosing him from his bondage. Every Believer’s ministry is to emancipate, not enslave. “Jesus saith unto them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Far too many saints are in a straitjacket. We need to be cautious that we do not put a “restricted” sign on things God has not prohibited. Everything that is not specifically spelled out as sin in the scriptures comes under the label of liberty.

We are told, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Paul taught this principle when he told young Timothy, if it was of God then it was good, and that nothing was to be refused, if received with thanksgiving. True, under this heading some can, and others cannot; but these sensitive decisions are to be left entirely up to the Spirit-filled believer and their God (Ro.14).

My son, Andrew, has an article entitled, “Only God Gets to Define Sin.” Let us be careful not to replace our man-made tag for God’s. I think Peter put it best at the first Church council when he said, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.” Or as my mentor, Dr. Joe Henry Hankins, used to say, “Never put more of a burden on a man than he already has.”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Little Chorus Has it Right

Gone, gone, gone, gone,
Yes my sins are gone.
Now my soul is free and in my heart’s a song.
Buried in the deepest sea
Yes, that's good enough for me.
I shall live eternally,
Praise God! My sins are g-o-n-e, gone!

Not some, a portion, or even most, but all my sins are gone. Sound like heresy? Think of it; when Christ died on the Cross, we had no past or present sins. We did not exist, all our sins were future. There is no longer sin on us, although sin does still remain in us. Once saved,God does not deal with us as sinners unto condemnation, but as a Father with His wayward children, chastening us in this life. That we may not be condemned with the world.

In the Old Testament, Aaron, the High Priest, on the day of atonement, would lay both his hands upon the head of a scapegoat. He would then confess “all the iniquities,” “all the transgressions,” and “all the sins” of God’s people. Then the animal would be sent away into the uninhabited wilderness, bearing their sins.

In Paul’s gospel he tells us how "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." We hear a lot about the death and resurrection of Christ, but very little of his burial. This, to our great chagrin.

Could it be the Tomb is where He left our sins? That is, He went in with them, and came out without them. That He, like the scapegoat, took them into a no-man's land, never to be found. Or as the songwriter put it, "...buried, He carried our sins far away." I think so!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Paddling Your Own Boat

We will never know God as long as we remain a stranger to the Stranger of Galilee. He was God in disguise. As H. A. Ironside brings out ,the Shunnamite in Song of Solomon found, her shepherd lover was, in reality, her King in disguise. Christ’s greatest claim while on earth was that He and God were one. Therefore, it is a wise thing to hold claim to His claim. There is no halfway house on this issue.

Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship. Jesus was so intimate with His Father that He called Him “Abba” (Papa). And we are told that we also can have such a relationship (Gal.4:6). This is authentic Christianity. When you spend time with Jesus, you become intensely aware of God. As one writer says, “Jesus is an unclouded window into God.”

Jesus’ credential was Himself, and those who knew Him were convinced of His right to Lordship in their lives. His early followers had no doubt of this Carpenter’s claim upon themselves and all they possessed. “…neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own.” It goes on to say that such people had “…great power,” and “great grace.”

For those who want to paddle their own canoe, I would warn that ultimately you’ll find yourselves “up a creek without a paddle!” (rds)

Friday, April 7, 2017

I'm As Good As They Were...Really!

“I am not better than my fathers.” This statement by the discouraged prophet has more unmined nuggets in it than most realize. Can we take by his saying this there was a time that he did think he was better than his father's? Did he have to be put in a difficult situation to realize and admit to it? And was there still a portion of unyielding pride that would not allow him to go all the way and say, “I am not as good as my father's”?

I have found in both the physical and spiritual world that we also have an “Elijah Syndrome.”

As to the first of these, the physical,how many young married people believe they are just a notch higher than their parents. In such things as; rearing their children, making important decisions, and living life in general. But I assure you, among the honest ones, after they’ve experienced the difficult tasks of their forefathers, they too will say, “I am no better than my parents.” And how embarrassing this is to oneself when admitted.   

Then there is the spiritual realm where we are guilty of arrogantly saying of our forefathers, “They were good men and women, but he or she were “off” on this or that particular thing.” But, after God shows us our hearts, if truly humbled, we finally get to the place where we say, “I’m no better than they were.”

“I am no better than my fathers,” brings you from superiority to equality. Real humility is to say (and mean), “I’m not as good as my father's.” (rds)

Monday, April 3, 2017

An Article By My Wife Salle (dying of pancreatic cancer)

 Then Shall We Go? --- Finding the Path Ahead

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12:2

         It is possible to determine God’s good, perfect and acceptable will. It involves the mind and is learned, not hit upon. Paul calls it having “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), which is why he told the Corinthian believers that he never stopped praying that they’d be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9). How do we find the way to go? Listen to the answer from God: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go…” (Psl. 32:8a).

         But not only do I have the authority of the Scriptures to prove this; I know it by experience. Any direction from God that has come to me in what seemed at the time to be “in a flash,” I realized later was the result of (in my case) sixty-five years of instruction by the Spirit of God through Word of God. For the most part, I have, as Henry Jowett said, to keep my soul “porous toward the Divine, ” so that now I am more able to immediately eliminate what God has explicitly forbidden and allow the Holy Spirit to bring back to my mind those things He has taught me about the character of God, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the instruction by the human authors of the Word of God under the direct inspiration of God.

         The wise men found the way to go, the path ahead to the newborn King, by travelling at night. Otherwise they would not have been able to see the star that stood over where He lay. This may be true for us, as well. I have learned through this journey that it’s much easier to see the lights of home in the dark. It shines brighter than ever. In the meantime, by God’s grace, I intend to marinate in the presence of God through His Word and prevailing prayer. And keep looking up.

It’s always darkest before the 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Beneath the Surface

"Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.”

ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO BE LIKE THEM?

Qualities anyone would desire to emulate, would you not agree? That is, until he disrobed at night. After taking away all the medals of achievement, and laying aside his attractive attire, our deep craving to be this person would fade. For under that external fa├žade, we would find a disgusting and nauseating dry rot. It is amazing how many blemishes, scars, and ugly defects, cosmetics hide.

THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS THE WAY THEY LOOK

If we could see beneath the surface of those we long to be like, we would be more than content to live in our own skins. I’m sure, had we lived in Solomon’s day, we’d have given anything to be in his shoes, not realizing, under that glorious apparel and material wealth was a man who hated life. And what’s worse had an unquenchable lust resting in his bosom, which would ultimately turn him from the God he loved.

GOD HAS GIVEN YOU ONE FACE, AND YOU MAKE YOURSELF ANOTHER. ~WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

You’re a rarity; God threw away the mold after making you. Why be like someone else, there’s already one of them. But no one is quite like you.