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Witnessing Tools

Page history last edited by pinkhamc@... 2 weeks, 6 days ago

 

Witnessing Realities

 

We must always remember it is only those seeds sown in the proper soil and to the right depth, watered and fertilized well, provided with ample sun and protected from weeds, that mature to produce fruit.  (Matt 13: 1-29)

 

A Simple Witnessing Question

 

This question was suggested by Rev Joe Hicks on 5 October 2014 in our church.  I will try it: "If God wanted you to know something, would you want to know it?

 

Not So Simple, Yet Vital Witnessing Questions 17 04 11

 

When witnessing, knowing where the person is on the road of life, can avoid wasted conversation.  You can establish that by two pairs of statement-questions:

 

1) The Bible teaches that the Lord God Creator of the universe wants to spend now and forever with you in an intimate life of forgiveness and love expressed in such a way that this new life will be much more fulfilling than anything you have experienced up to now.

2) Does the possibility of this interest you?  if "Yes" (and it's hard to see how it couldn't), this is where you move to 3.  If "No," this is where you respectfully offer to remember that person in prayer and move on to a different field, one ready for the harvest (John 4:35).

 

3) Are you ready to accept God's offer?  If yes, this is where you ask that person to accept Jesus' shed blood for his or her sins and His Lordship.  If that person does, assure him or her that the line has been crossed that separates the old life, the old creature, from the new (John 5:24b) and to appropriate the promised fullfilling life, she or he should actively read God's Word, develop the habit of conversing with God continuously, and fellowship with other believers. 

or if that person is not ready...

4) Are you interested in examining the evidence that 1) is true?  If yes, this is where you go to The Evidence for Belief.  If no, this is where you respectfully offer to remember that person in prayer and move on to a different field, one ready for the harvest (John 4:35).

 

Two corollary questions  (18 11 13)

Ask these if the person does not claim to be a Christian:

1) How long do you think it will take you to decide to become a Christian?

2) How long do you think it will take you to become a Christian once you decided to do so?

 

Ask these if the person claims to be a Christian:

3) How long did it take you to decide to become a Christian and when did you do so?

4) How long did it take you to become a Christian once you decided to do so?

 

1) can suggest if the person is focusing on works, sincerity, or grace.  If it's a long time, belief that works is necessary or sincerity may be the reason.  Delay until enough good works have been accumulated is futile, we can never be good enough.  Sincerity, on the other hand, can be valuable.  Rushing into becoming a Christian without giving it proper consideration and struggling with the possibility Christ's claim on your life is true rather than a fairy tale, is time well spent.

 

2) and 4) reveal whether the message of Grace has been received.  When someone thinks it will take a year, a month, a week, a day, an hour, or even a minute, he hasn't grasped the meaning of Grace.  It is bestowed the INSTANT he decides to trust his life (salvation and Lordship) to Jesus.

 

3) can reveal whether that person's faith will last.  If it was a short time, a short time ago, that person's faith may not last.  If it was a short time, a long time ago; or a long time, regardless of how long ago, that person's faith will likely last.

 

God is Holy

 

What does it mean to say God is Holy?  It means He is perfect Goodness, Righteousness, and Lovingkindness and He is full of Mercy and Grace.  The Bible ascribes all these attributes to Him and more.  But these five bear most heavily on His Holiness.   I will not bore you with the references.  But I will say, without these attributes He would not be God.  The first three probably don’t need any definition, but the last two do.  It took me a long while to understand their difference.  Mercy is not giving us what we deserve, and Grace is giving us what we could never get on our own.

 

 

The Bell-Shaped Curve

 

Have you ever run into a person who is so mistakenly smug he can’t seem to grasp that he is a sinner or, at the other extreme, one who feels that he is such a terrible sinner that surely God would have nothing to do with him?  Perhaps what follows will help you reach him with the truth.

 

One day, soon after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I was reading 1st John, chapter 1, in preparation for a Bible study being led by a friend.  As I read verse 8, I had a subtle prodding inside which I have subsequently learned to recognize as the Holy Spirit’s gentle voice.  I tried to ignore it, and read on.  But it was too persistent to ignore, so, with some hesitation, I returned to the passage.  Truthfully, I was wondering whether I’d get the message or even if there was one there to get.  I read verse 8 several times to no avail.  Then I came to my senses and prayed to God that I believed He had a message for me, and if so, would He please open my eyes to see it?  As soon as I finished that prayer, I had a thought!  My background includes some statistics, and I could see the following picture of mankind:

 

In statistics, this is known as a “bell-shaped curve” because it looks like a bell viewed from the side.  The concept is really quite simple.  The length along the bottom covers the span of goodness exhibited by mankind –from “Very, very bad” at one end (perhaps someone like Hitler or Charles Manson) to “Very, very good” at the other end, (perhaps someone like Mother Theresa, or Mahatma Ghandi).  The height of the curve at any given point represents numbers of people in the category of goodness found at this point.  For example, there are very few really bad people in the world, just as there are very few who are really good, so the curve isn’t very high at either end.  Most of mankind falls somewhere toward the middle, showing some good behavior and some bad, so the curve is highest in the middle.

 

The next thought was “Where do you see yourself fitting in this diagram?”  Since I regarded myself as one of the “better guys” who needed only a little improvement to find favor in the eyes of my heavenly Father, I put myself toward the right end of the curve, but not at the far right… after all, I had to maintain some pretense of humility.  Suddenly I visualized the next diagram:

 

 

It became obvious it really didn’t matter where I put myself in the bell-shaped curve of mankind, or for that matter, where anyone puts me or puts himself.  For as we are taught in Romans 3:23, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

 

Thus, my considering myself to be basically good is revealed to be of no more consequence to God than if I had felt I were so bad as to be beyond help.  God’s perfect goodness is so far removed from the scale of mankind, that no amount of effort on our part in either direction separates us more from Him or draws us closer to Him.  Thus it is not what we do that makes us worthy of fellowship with God, it is what He did and does.

 

Knowing that each of us needs Him and yet each of us would recoil from Him as His pure goodness exposed our true, awful state, He established the model in the Old Testament, that the shed blood of a sacrificial lamb could purify us, and then came to earth as Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross as the ultimate sacrificial lamb, showing in the process that His love for us, and His desire for us, is so great that He was willing to shed His own blood to purify us.  Then He lovingly offers this gift of purification to each of us so if we accept it, we can enjoy His companionship without guilt now and for eternity. (John 1:12,13)

 

But, until that day when we stand in our Lord’s presence, we are still part of mankind.  Thus when we begin to feel self-righteous, it is humbling to honestly assess our position on the curve of mankind… and then view the chasm between where we are and God’s perfect Goodness (Matthew 5:48).

 

I have since come to realize that in addition to goodness, the curve applies to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  That is it applies to all the fruits of the Spirit, not just to goodness (Galatians 5:22,23).

 

The Tree of Life


Chris and I have this identical necklace.  We usually wear it when we go out.  We have a lot of fun with it.

 

Most often I get complemented on it.  I suspect because men don’t usually wear necklaces.  When I do, we follow a routine.  We ask, “What is it?”  Most reply, “It’s a tree.”  Then I say, “What kind of tree?”  Some respond with, “the tree of life.”  If they don’t, I ask, “Have you ever heard of “the tree of life?”  The nearly universal response is, “Yes.”

 

At this point, we ask the question that we’ve been working toward, “What does the tree of life suggest to you?” We often get a blank stare that belies a reluctance to commit to an answer, lest we make fun of them or be offended.  At which point we chime in with, “We have heard many answers but they all can be reduced to six and we agree with all but the sixth.”   

 

“The sixth one is ‘I have no idea.’  It’s OK, to say I have no idea if you really don’t, but we do have, so we can’t agree with that one.”  Then without skipping a beat, we recite the other five.

 

“The fifth one is a tree that grows and bears fruit just like I hope my life, others’ lives, and/or our world will grow and bear fruit.  Don’t we all wish this?”  It is in this vein that the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha received enlightenment fits here. Proverbs 11:30 reflects this: "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives" (NIV).

 

“The fourth one is a tree that reflects my family where going from oldest to youngest up the tree, the trunk represents my oldest ancestors and the branches their descendants, making me one of the topmost branches.  Alternatively, going from the oldest to the youngest down the tree, my ancestors form the branches (we all have many ancestors) and I represent the trunk. We are interested in our family history so we naturally agree with this one. Do you have an interest in yours?”  If you are, we highly recommend WikiTree.com, an ancestry site that is polite, protective, informative, user-friendly, and best of all, free.

 

“The third is the tree of life representing the evolution of life from a single, primitive common ancestor branching out to all the life forms that have ever lived, and we are one of those topmost branches. Since I am an evolutionary biologist with many, many years of learning to back up my conviction, we agree with this one.  Are you convinced that evolution brought us here, like we are?”

 

“The second is the tree of life in the Garden of Eden.  After Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had specifically warned them NOT to do, they were banned from the Garden before they could eat the fruit of the tree of life and live forever.  We believe in the Bible, so we agree with this one. Do you believe in the Bible like we do?”

 

“The first is the Tree that Jesus was hung on, the cross. This is the true Tree of Life for those who believe that Jesus died for their sins on that cross and rose to prove that those sins were buried with him in the tomb and left there by Him upon His resurrection, thus giving those who believe, that eternal life hinted at in the Garden.  We are both Christians and we most decidedly believe in this one.  Are you a Christian, too?” 

 

By now, we have either gotten them to agree with one or more of the choices or we have met a fellow sister or brother in the Lord.  If time allows and it’s the former, we have their attention and can embark on a discussion which enables us to share the Gospel.  If the latter, we can share our mutual love for Jesus and talk about where they can get a similar necklace so they can begin their adventure sharing this wonderfully innocuous-looking catalyst to witnessing.

 

It is interesting to note that this routine sometimes encounters a point of relief followed soon thereafter by surprise.   The point of relief shows in their eyes when we state the third answer.  “You can almost read their mind as they think, “Thank goodness, they’re not going to get religious on me.”  Their bewilderment is almost equally palpable when we follow that with the fourth answer.  Again, you can almost hear the wheels turning as they think, “Wait, how can a person believe in both evolution and the Bible?”  This also provides a good platform for further discussion, which often starts with the “12 fundamental principles of Christianity” which we almost always have ready as a business-card-sized handout.

 

If you want more to ponder, consider this: the Greek word for wood (tree) is "xulon."  In Revelation, the "tree of life," using the word "xulon," is referred to in 2:7 and 22:2,14,19.  In Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29; Galatians 3:13, and 1 Peter 2:24 the word "cross" is "xulon" in the Greek.  This word is the source of the word, "xylem" which forms the bulk of the wood inside of the bark of a tree.  In light of my discussion in Natural Revelation, on How the Cell Mirrors the Trinity, it is appropriate that the xylem carries water from the roots to the leaves-see that essay for how this reflects the Word in the world.

 

Then, in light of the above insight based upon knowledge of Greek, the Bible, and biology, it should come as no surprise that in Proverbs 3, in which the central theme is the pursuit of wisdom, we find, "She (wisdom) is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed." (v 18).  Pointed out by Chris on 16 08 04.

 

Or consider Proverbs 11:30 which says, "The fruit of righteousness is a tree of life, and whoever wins souls is wise." (Tree of Life Version).

 

Finally, consider this: In Hebrew, “tree of life” is written, עץ חיים, “‘etz chayim” (pronounced, etzs hayeem).  Interestingly enough, the two wooden poles that hold the Torah scroll in the Synagogue are referred to as the “‘etz chayim.”  The more I look and learn, the more intertwined it all becomes!  This makes me wonder, when Jesus was handed the scroll of Isaiah on the Sabbath in the Nazareth synagogue where He officially started His 3-year ministry (Luke 4:16-31), was it, too, rolled onto two rods, and were they, too, called the ‘etz Chayim?  If so, He began and ended His physical ministry connected to the “tree of life.”

 

God is oh, so Clever!

 

First, a little lesson in Hebrew.  Hebrew is read right to left, not left to right. That is the order the letters occur in below. However, their spelled version and translation will be read in the normal English order,  left to right. In other words, the first Hebrew letter (on the right) will be translated into the first English spelling (on the left), and so on.  Second, there are no vowels in Biblical Hebrew.  They are included in the English translation following subtle rules that I have yet to explore.

 

this is: “jod, hei, vav (or wah),  hei” or “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”

 

( this is: “dalet, vav, dalet” or “David.”

 

David’s line will produce the Messiah: (Psalm 110:1), (Jeremiah 23:5-6) and the Messiah is Jesus (Rev 5:5).

 

Notice that “dalet” is nearly identical to “hei,” the difference being a single additional stroke of the pen in the latter.

 

 this shows that the word for “Jehovah” incorporates the word for “David:” 

 

This is a cryptic way of including “Jesus” in the word “Jehovah”!

 

But it doesn’t end there.

 

 this is the paleohebew  “dalet.”  Paleohebrew was the script used by most of the authors of the Old Testament.

 

Dalet is like the Greek letter delta, which is used in science to symbolize change.

 

If we concede the possibility that God influences the minds of men, and we concede further, that He can influence even the minds of men who are not His followers (the authors of the Greek alphabet) when this influence ultimately serves His purpose, then the following message could be extracted from the above observations:

 

David, in the line to Jesus and Jesus in the word “Jehovah “can be understood to emphasize change.

 

God as Jesus is all about changing us.

 

Before you reject this reasoning, know that I support the idea that God is a lot cleverer than we give Him credit for.  God weaves into His creation and His Word, subtle hints that He is behind it all.  Bearing that in mind, am I being an exegete or an eisogete when I make observations like the above?  Is it possible for a mere human to see something God didn’t see first or even see something God didn’t even set up first? I don’t know, but I suspect not.  The only evidence I can cite to support the possibility that we can think thoughts God has never entertained is Jeremiah, 32:35 where God is speaking, "They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek , though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin."  I'm not sure what is meant by this because in at least seven instances, God mentions this practice in books covering times prior to Jeremiah (Lev 18:21, 20:2,4; 2Ki 17:31; 2Ch 28:3, 33:6; Isa 57:5).

 

In any event I’ll grant these hints are not blatantly obvious, but they are there for those who make the effort to find them (Matt 7:7).  God wants us to spend time seeking to understand Him, His will (Col 1:19) and His awesomeness (Ps 66:5).

 

So, to those who would say I am committing the error of eisogesis, I would reply, “Your God is too small.” 

 

I have seen too many examples of God’s subtle fingerprint to feel this position is far-fetched.

 

If you don’t know what I am referring to with these words, check out http://www.interfaith.org/forum/exegesis-vs-eisogesis-184.html.

 

The Difference Between Christmas and Easter


When I was a child, I was certain of two things: God created the beauty that I saw all around me and Christmas was about me.  I also had a vague idea Jesus had something to do with both, but mostly that somehow, Easter was about him.

 

When I found the truth as an adult and crossed over the line to become a Christian, I did so knowing I had two of those three totally backwards.  It turns out Christmas is all about Jesus and Easter is all about me (and you).

 

1 Co 13:11

 

Easter 1994

 

How are you doing?   Good?    Well, what exactly is good?

 

If we contrast goodness with what some despicable humans have done, we are doing good.  After all, we haven't sent millions of Jews to their death; we haven't "slept" with hundreds of different partners; we haven't illegally gained millions of dollars in the drug trade.  Sure…, we are doing pretty good…

 Or... are we?

 

How would you feel in the presence of Perfect Goodness, Perfect Righteousness, and Perfect Holiness? Wouldn't that time you rationalized the use of a paperclip from work to hold together your notes at home; wouldn’t that time you pretended to know something you didn't to cover up your ignorance; wouldn't that time you wished you had a new car like your neighbor; wouldn't that time you thought how sexy someone looked and how you'd like to...? Wouldn't all these times and countess more suddenly collapse on you and consume you in an overwhelming wave of guilt -- guilt revealed by the consuming brightness of Perfect Holiness?

 

That's how God is. He loves you, He desires to spend eternity with you, but He has a problem -your sin. Your little misdeeds and misthoughts would allow you to last only a moment in His presence. Your sense of guilt would be a million, million times more intense than that time you let your parents down, or you betrayed a trust with your best friend, or you failed to rally to someone's side in their time of need.

 

So, how does God deal with this guilt problem? He provides the opportunity, through his Son, Jesus, for you to appear before him guiltless.

 

This Jesus took on the guilt of the entire world, past, present and future, died with that guilt on him, left it in death and resurrected in Perfect Righteousness, so that you might have a choice. You can stand before God claiming your own righteousness or claiming the Righteousness of Jesus. You can choose to burn in God's Glory or to bask in it.

 

Choose to bask in His Glory. This Easter Season, find a body of believers that proclaims this message and listen to them!

 

GABRIEL HAS PUT THE TRUMPET TO HIS LIPS!

 

The above was a piece I wrote for our local newspaper.

 

Why we Need the Gift of Faith

 

If there were absolute proof of the existence of God, there would be no choice. 

 

Note, this is repeated under Theodicy.  Fix this.

 

Choice is absolutely critical to God’s plan.  The Gift of God (Eph 2:6-7) plays a major role here.  Think about it:

“You have been saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast.”

 

How it seems to work for most people (where "->" can be read as "leads to"):

Evidence for God -> willingness to be open to the gift of God* -> discovering further evidence for God -> the point where you are ready to receive the gift of God *-/*-> faith that God exists -> God’s grace -> salvation

 

Faith to believe in God is a gift of God.  It leads to salvation by grace.  If we could see the proof of God without faith, we would circumvent the intermediate steps in the pathway above, that is: Proof of God -> salvation. 

Everyone would be saved.  Salvation for all would mean that each of us could boast that we saw the proof and thus demand our salvation.  Our salvation would be based upon proof and not upon God’s replacing our sin nature with His Holiness.  As a consequence, Heaven would be filled with people who are still dead in their sin nature--not a lovely place.

-------

*This is frequently expressed in the prayer that goes something like this, "God, I concede that you may be real.  Show me that you are."

*-/*-> represents the line that is crossed the moment you first believe in full that God the Son is your personal Savior and Lord.  Everything after this line happens at that moment, as God the Holy Spirit enters your life and seals the conviction that you have made the crucially correct choice that effects your relationship with the Lord God Creator of the Universe for now and eternity.

 

Understanding this has to lead to a new and deeper question.  How can a just God (God is just- Deut 32:4) turn those away who reject Him unless He has extended the same level of evidence (Rev 3:20) for His existence to all?  I believe the nature of God's knocking at our door has three parts.  The first part is found in the consistency of the evidence available to all individuals (Romans 1:20).  This is the evidence associated with the first of the "leads to" arrows above.  It should be enough to start the person along the path, but we all know many people (perhaps in retrospect, including ourselves) for whom it appears to be insufficient.  So how can we possibly hope to see them move along this path? This is where the second part comes in.  It is associated with the second of the two sets of "leads to" arrows.  It involves two processes in which you and I are expected to participate.  The first process is to share the Gospel with as many as possible (the Great Commission and Romans 10:14).  The second is to share the nature of the "evidence for God" that we know exists.  The evidence includes some or all of the examples found in The Evidence for Belief.  God knows what will work best for the individual and ensures that this additional evidence is revealed to him.  The third part also involves us as partners with God.  It extends from the first "leads to" arrow to the third.  It is to pray consistently for the person's salvation.  But in the end, it is God who has to ensure that through these parts, He has exerted a consistent effort for each individual. 

 

Perhaps this effort and its consequences can best be grasped by the following series of three cartoons:

 

 

The first cartoon illustrates the level where God begins the process.  He erects a "ladder of evidence" onto the "wall of free will" that reaches the same point for each individual.  Over time, as He continues His effort with our help through the second part, the wall gets shorter (Rev 3:20) but that is most likely insufficient to lower the wall to the breaching point.  That's where the third part comes in: our prayers for that person's salvation.  We need to pray for that person's salvation (Acts 26:29) in response to God's prompting.  I know I am guilty of NOT praying for the salvation of some of the leading world atheists.  I will not make that mistake from here on.  After all, it was the Protestant Women of the Dugway Chapel whose faithful prayers for me were steadily lowering my wall of free will until that moment it hit the breaching point.  I had no idea this was going on until after I received the gift of Faith.  I owe all that I have become to them and my Lord.  2 Peter 1:3. 

 

In spite of all this effort, we still have a wall of free will and we can build that wall higher as others attempt to tear it down.

 

Mat 13:23

23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

 

Can God Both Love the Sinner and be Wrathful Toward Him?

 

We hear that God loves the sinner while at the same time we hear that God exercises wrath against the sinner.  How can this be?

Perhaps the following diagram will help.

God is Holy, Just and Love.  Because He is Love, He loves everyone, including the sinner.  But His Holiness and Justice leave Him no choice, but to relate to the sinner with wrath.  This creates a tension for the sinner, who if honest with himself, senses God’s wrath.  Not surprisingly, it also creates a tension for God.  God dealt with that tension by sending his only Son to take on the sins of the world, to carry them into the grave and leave them there and then resurrect His Son to offer to each human Jesus' righteousness to fill the vacancy left by the buried sins.  By accepting this offer, each human becomes a new creation.  The new creation is now not under God’s wrath and is thus free of his past tension and likewise, God is free of His tension and can now shower the new creation with His unencumbered Love.

 

What is Sin?


If Sin is anathema to God, what is it?  Well, it is certainly transgression of one of the ten commandments.  Often it is summarized as "going against the will of God."  These are both serviceable definitions, but I wonder how convicting they are for someone you are trying to witness to who has yet to concede the value of the Bible or the existence of God.

 

Perhaps a more meaningful definition for an unbeliever can be reached by asking, "Who are you?"  When he responds with a quizzical expression, explain that you had in mind (I know, there's a pun in there somewhere), that sense of self-awareness or sense of self that we call "consciousness."  If we consider consciousness, two truths emerge.  First, science hasn't the vaguest idea what it actually is and second, each of us is truly, moment-by-moment, only aware of his own.  Considering this second truth quickly leads to more.  If my consciousness is real to me, then yours must be real to you.  If it is real to you and you value yours as much as I value mine, then I have a challenge when I am faced with a choice between doing something that favors my consciousness or another thing that favors yours.  Often we can find a way to favor both, such as going to a movie together that we both want to see.  But much more often, we don't have such a clear win-win situation. for example, I often find myself wanting to finish a project I'm deeply committed to when Chris appears and wants me to pay attention to her.  I love her dearly, but all too often, I find myself brushing her off and going back to my project.  Or perhaps an even more striking example, would be when I spend money on some SCUBA equipment that I've been wanting when I know there are people in Anajali school who don't even have proper shoes.

 

When we favor ourselves before others we are doing what is anathema to God.  We are sinning.  If you can make the person you are witnessing to aware of that concept of sin and his almost moment-by-moment living in it, you are well on God's way to convicting that person of his desperate need for Christ's atoning blood and Lordship.

 

Phil 2:3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather, in humility, value others above yourselves."

 

Why We Don't Witness

 

A major reason we don't witness is that we're not sure enough of our own faith to bear the ridicule and scorn of those we witness to.  If, however, we were certain of our own faith, their ridicule and scorn would have no impact on us whatsoever, but rather drive us with ever more certainty to the author of that faith - our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Quick Shots

 

Jesus Christ is our defense attorney and he'll never lose a case!

 

If You're an Atheist, Why you Should Embrace Christianity

 

Studies have shown that Christians live longer, healthier, and happier than non-Christians (I'll provide references soon).  If that is the case, and you are an atheist, all you have is your life; there is nothing after.  As a result, you undoubtedly want to live that life as long, and as healthy, and as happy as possible.  The obvious way to accomplish that goal-embrace Christianity.

 

Desire to Please God and Eternal Life

 

The World has two groups of people: those who have no desire to please God, and those who do.  The former will be successful; they will get their wish to spend eternal life without God.  The latter also consists of two groups: those who desire to please God in order to obtain eternal life and those who desire to please God by showing their gratitude to Him for already giving them eternal life.  The former will be unsuccessful; they will not get their wish to spend eternal life with God.  The latter are already successful, they have at least begun to grasp their complete depravity compared to God's Holiness and their need for the cleansing blood of Jesus to atone for their depravity.

 

Is Jesus our Lord and Savior or our Savior and Lord? (Oct 7 2020)

In a sense, this question is frivolous.  He is both at the same time, somewhat like the Three-in-One are each God at the same time. However, it is relevant when we consider time's arrow, which proceeds from the past through the present to the future. Did Jesus become our Savior first and then our Lord or is it the other way around?  After all, we usually hear it as "our Savior and Lord."  This accurately reflects the idea that many of us became aware of our sin nature first and the need for Jesus's shed blood to cleanse us of that sin and then realized that His act of making us holy entitled him to Lordship in our lives.  In fact, the only way we could please Him and live out our new holiness correctly is to allow Jesus to be Lord of our thoughts, our choices, our very lives! And once we fully comprehend Col 2:6-7, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness," [NIV] we realize our desire for His Lordship is solidly based upon our gratitude to Him for our salvation and bringing us to the now and forever Love of the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the Universe!  Of course, some of us made Him Lord before we realized we needed Him as Savior.  In that case, "Lord and Savior" does seem more appropriate.

 

Who Owns You? (Oct 7 2020)

Recently, I had a "revelation."  Now this revelation may be old hat to many, but to me, it was a real eye-opener.  You see I had always had the fuzzy notion that people who had not made Jesus their Savior and Lord (see above) were somehow out there in "neutral" land, somewhat like being on a platform in a train station waiting for the arrival of their train. In this case, "their train" was someone, or ones, to convincingly and "convicting-ly" deliver the salvation message.

 

Then, out of nowhere, in a flash, God showed me that even though the Father forms each of us in the womb (Job 31:15, Ps 139:13, Is 44:24) and imparts our spirit to us simultaneously, He has yielded His rightful claim to that spirit to the prince of this world, Satan (Jn 16:11). So rather than being on a train platform before we are saved, it is more like each of us is in a prison next to that train platform.  And that prison is guarded by that jail keeper, the devil, who has thrown away the keys.  We are his, unless Jesus comes with the keys [Rev 1:18] to let us out.  And Jesus for some unfathomable reason, wants us to be the train that brings Jesus with His keys. To me, this makes the condition of the unsaved far more desperate than I had ever imagined and the urgency of my being a train ever more significant!

 

After I sent this to the Men's Bible study I lead, Fred Blanchard, of the members sent a much more elegant rendition of the above, "If we are not God's, we are Satan's. There is no other place to be."

 

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