It Ain’t Easy, Being Clean

It Ain’t Easy, Being Clean
Vol: 21 Issue: 30 Saturday, April 30, 2016

Among some of my emails was one from an OL member asking me to comment on Matthew 12:43-45.  It wasn’t any more specific than that, but the first words that came to mind as I was re-reading the verses became the title of today’s brief.

Because it ain’t easy, being clean.

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.  Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”

I was amazed at how little commentary has been offered on these verses — not many of those in my library had anything to say — those few that did mostly focused on the meaning of the phrase “walking through the dry places”  or applied it to the unsaved Jews of that time.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible had such difficulty sorting out these verses that it complained,

“The general sentiment which our Saviour here teaches is much more easily understood than the illustration which He uses.”

Barnes’ ultimately decides that the Lord is teaching that it was about the Jews’ request for a sign from heaven that would prove Jesus was the Messiah, therefore:

“though He should give them such a sign–a proof conclusive and satisfactory; and though for a time they should profess to believe, and apparently reform–yet such was the obstinacy of their unbelief and wickedness, that they would soon return to them, and become worse and worse.”

It’s a reasonable interpretation, in the context of Matthew 12:38:

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from Thee.”

But if that is what the Lord intended, then I’d have to agree with Barnes — He picked a pretty obscure illustration.

There is a principle in philosophy known as “Occam’s Razor” for its originator, Sir William of Occam, expressed as “entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem” or, entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”

Summarized, “Occam’s Razor” concludes that that the simplest and most obvious explanation tends to be the best one.   Had Barne’s applied Occam’s Razor to Matthew 12:43-45 he would have been less piqued at the Savior for His ‘obtuse’ reference.

Sometimes we miss what the Lord is saying because we’re too busy trying to figure out what He is trying to tell us.

It’s a sad commentary on the effect political correctness has had on the English language that it is necessary to clarify what I mean by ‘equal’ before going on.  “Equal” means “the same” as in “two plus two equals (is the same as) four.”

In my intended meaning in this context, equal means ‘the same’ in the sense that things that are different are not the same.

That said, we all come to the Lord equally soiled and we are all washed equally clean by the Blood of Redemption.  That is the one and only time in our existence in which all men and women are truly equal.

We were equally lost and we were equally saved.  We all tremble equally under the shadow of the Cross.

But as individual saved Christians, we become as unique from one another as our fingerprints.  Before we were saved, we were equal in that we had no relationship with God.

As Christians, we aren’t part of a religion, but instead, we enter into a unique personal relationship with Christ.

Think about what that means.  You have a personal relationship with lots of different people — and no two relationships are the same — every one is different.  Even among members of the same family, there are relationships that can bear a strain, and those that are as fragile as glass.

My relationship with my grandfather was warm, but formal and proper.   My brother, on the other hand,  could joke and kid around with him in ways that, had it been me, would have made both of us uncomfortable.  Same grandfather, two different relationships.

At the point of salvation, the Bible says that we don’t simply change our relationship with God, but rather, that we are  actually transformed into new creatures.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”  (Galatians 6:15)

So, once we were all equally lost.  We came to Christ equally desperate for salvation.  We came away equally clean, in that all our sins were washed away.  Then we became brand-new creatures, no longer the same, in that each of us entered into a unique personal relationship with Christ.

Because we are unique individuals within an unique individual relationship, some Christians mature much faster than others.  Some Christians can’t get enough of the Word of God — others think an hour a week at church is plenty.  Others don’t go to church at all.

One can substitute one’s own judgement as to whether or not somebody is saved based on that kind of criteria — and lots of Christians do.

Personally however, I think that substituting my judgment for God’s is not only foolish, it is dangerous.  I know that my own relationship with Jesus is different than it is with others because I’ve heard other Christians pray.  They don’t all pray the way that I do.

I’ve seen the way other Christians live.  They don’t all live the way that I do.  I’ve seen the way other Christians worship.  They don’t all worship the way that I do.

On the other hand, I’ve also spent a lifetime in this world surrounded by lost and dying sinners.  The only thing different between them and me is that I know I’m forgiven.

I notice that we still all sin the same way.

Assessment:

I don’t have much trouble grasping what the Lord was telling His disciples.  It wasn’t delivered in a vacuum.  The Lord was speaking to flesh-and-blood men about flesh-and blood-issues.  I am flesh-and-blood.  What are my issues?

The Lord is real and I am real.  Our relationship is real.  It’s me that He is talking to.  I find that is the best place to begin when trying to understand Scripture.  Not where it applies to others.  Where it applies to me.

When I first got saved, I was instantly delivered — I suspect my story is not that unique.  I was instantly delivered from my most besetting sins — for a time.

When I first got saved I was a young policeman in Texas.  I was on fire for the Lord.  I quit smoking. I quit drinking.  I quit swearing.  I was ready to stand before the Bema Seat and hear the words,  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

One day a cigarette rolled out from under the car seat of my police patrol car as I braked at a stop light.  That was when I discovered how good I was and what a faithful servant I was.

Before my shift was out,  I had lighted that cigarette.  Before the night was out, I was in a drunken contest with my friends down at the local cop bar to see who could tell the dirtiest joke.

I don’t know how it happened — it just did.  One day I was Joe Christian and the next I was Joe Carnal.

The honeymoon was over.  Those demons to whom I had ceded sovereignty over my lusts and addictions had been evicted — until I invited them back in.

I hadn’t had a cigarette in months — it would be many years before I could make that statement again.  I suddenly found it almost impossible to form a sentence without swearing.

It went from bad to worse to worst.  I would attempt to force myself into a mini-revival — it was almost like a drug addict trying in vain to recapture that first ‘high’ — but that which had been handed to me as a gift became a daily struggle.

“But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”  (2nd Peter 2:22)

Of course, that was thirty years ago.  I’ve spent the last twenty years deeply immersed in Bible study, and have been in full-time Christian service almost that long.  The Lord has blessed me well beyond what I deserve — He has allowed me to study with some of the greatest Bible teachers of this generation.

And since I have been blessed so richly and so undeservedly, out of sheer gratitude, I have conquered all my demons and no longer struggle with sin.

(And YOU can, too!  Just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope and five dollars to . . . .)

Wouldn’t it be nice?  Would that it were true!  But it ain’t.  I still suspect my struggle is more difficult than it is for most Christians.  (I bet some of you think yours is tougher than mine.)

I know that I can think of a dozen Christians off the top of my head that I think are more spiritually-minded and have better self-control than I do.

But here’s the thing.  I’d also bet they each have lists of their own — and I’ll even bet that some of those lists include me among their ideal Christian examples.  Their lists are wrong.  So is mylist.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, as the old saying goes.  But that doesn’t stop us from trying.

Everybody has their own struggles and no two struggles are the same.  What is simple for one person is a struggle for another.   I know a fat guy who has no struggle not being gay.  I know a congenitally skinny guy who has no struggle with the sin of gluttony, but he drinks like a fish.

The Apostle Paul also had his struggles with sin.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”  (1st Timothy 1:15)

Paul even took his struggles directly to the Lord Jesus Christ, as I am sure that you have, and I have.  Paul was blessed above what he deserved with spiritual insights and revelations from God.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

Pay close attention to Paul’s reasoning.  He believed that the thorn in his flesh, (which he described as the messenger of Satan), was there to keep him humble.  Paul evidently felt he was humble enough — so much so that he took it to Christ on three separate occasions.

Note the Lord’s reply to Paul’s prayer.

“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficent for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Returning to our original topic, the intended lesson of these three verses is to remain vigilant and guard the entrance to the heart.  The man whose heart has been cleansed is not invulnerable.

And there is a penalty for returning, like the dog, to his own vomit.  The Lord says that the state of that man is worst than the first.  That doesn’t mean that person is lost — he is still the same new creature he was on the day he was saved and transformed.

But it was a lot easier when first he was delivered from that unclean spirit.  Anybody who was delivered from smoking but then relapsed and tried to quit again knows exactly how much harder it is the next time.

But it doesn’t mean that you’re on your own.  The Lord isn’t finished with you yet — but it can sometimes feel like it.  We’re up against a lot more than just our own lusts and desires.  Sometimes, just being delivered is too easy.

It ain’t easy being clean.  But it isn’t supposed to be.  If it wasn’t a struggle, then the victory wouldn’t be so sweet.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 12, 2009.

Frustrating the Grace of God . . .

Frustrating the Grace of God . . .
Vol: 21 Issue: 29 Friday, April 29, 2016

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” – Galatians 2:21

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to address a heresy that put him into direct confrontation with the Apostle Peter.

Paul was describing his recent trip to Jerusalem in which he was accompanied by Titus. Titus was not a converted Jew, but rather a converted (and uncircumcised) Greek, which had created quite a stir among Jerusalem’s Messianic community.

Those whom Paul addressed as “false brethren unawares” were ‘brought in’ as spies, hoping to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.” (Galatians 2:4)

Paul was upset that Titus was being ostracized by the Jewish Church, and in particular, he blamed the Apostle Peter.

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.”

Paul noted that Peter regularly ate with Gentiles when he was preaching among them. But when he received a delegation from the Apostle James, Paul said, “he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.” (v.12)

Peter was afraid of offending the Jewish authorities and had allied himself with ‘Judaizers’ — those who claimed salvation by grace through faith but also demanded adherence to Mosaic Law.

Here was Peter’s ‘fault’. Peter taught that God had pulled down the partition wall separating Jews from Gentiles. To express his conviction, he regularly ate with Gentiles.

But when certain Jews came as emissaries from the Apostle James, Peter withdrew from the Gentiles, acting as if the law was still in force and the distinctions between Jew and Gentile should be maintained.

Paul called this doctrine “dissembling”. “Dissembling”, according to the dictionary, means to “disguise or conceal one’s true nature, motives or feelings behind a false appearance.”

He noted that even Barnabas had been taken in by this false doctrine, “insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” (v.13)

“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Galatians 2:14)

Paul’s main complaint had little to do with the specific subject at hand. He accused Peter of subverting the Gospel, and replacing it with legal requirements that amounted to keeping the Law, but claiming salvation by faith.

Paul repeated the plain truth of the Gospel:

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

Assessment:

Let’s stay with that statement for a minute. “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.”

If it was true in Paul’s day, then it is equally true in our day. But the same heresy that so offended Paul two thousand years ago is just as active today as it was then.

Note that Paul says a man is justified by “the faith OF Jesus Christ.” Christians place their faith, first and foremost in the fact that Jesus Christ will keep His promises. Our faith is in His faithfulness.

There are many who acknowledge that Jesus Christ was as real an historical personage as Abraham Lincoln, but one can believe He existed and not be a Christian. The Muslims believe He existed, but Islam is hardly a Christian religion.

Christians are justified “by the faith OF Jesus Christ” to keep His promise that “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

Many in the Church today impose certain legal requirements as being contingent on salvation, just as did the early Church. They dress it up with Scriptures taken out of context, arguing that women should wear long dresses, men should keep their hair short, making lists of things that defile the temple of the Holy Spirit, etc.

Let’s hit the high points on the list and see where we disagree.

Christians who smoke are defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit. A Christian who is still in bondage to tobacco addiction is probably not REALLY saved.

(After all, don’t the Scriptures promise Christians freedom from bondage?)

A person who drinks alcohol probably isn’t really saved.

(Don’t the Scriptures say ‘drunkards shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?)

What about the person who claims salvation, but still dabbles in drugs?

(How can one simultaneously host the indwelling Spirit of God and still continue to indulge in the sins of the flesh?)

If anything, that person is said to have a ‘head’ knowledge of Christ, but not a ‘heart’ knowledge.

That flunks the logic test. It describes a person who THINKS that he is trusting Jesus, but somehow isn’t sincere.

How can one THINK they are trusting in Christ, but doubt their own sincerity?

The dictionary defines ‘trust’ as “something committed into the care of another; charge. To have or place confidence in; depend on.”

I can’t speak for you, but my ‘head knowledge’ tells that I am unworthy of the gift of salvation. It my head knowledge that constantly reminds me me I NEED a Savior.

(My heart tends to lie to me and tell me that I am really a better Christian than Joe So-and-So because MY secret sins are less obvious or socially-unacceptable.)

If smoking and drinking and drugs are evidence that a person is not really a Christian, then what about obesity? Being fat in today’s culture is not seen as sinful, despite the proven health risks associated with being overweight.

How is that less defiling of the temple of the Holy Spirit then the other, less socially-acceptable examples of self-indulgence? Logic and Scripture both demand the recognition that lustful self-indulgence would be the relevant sin, not the object one lustfully self-indulges oneself with.

I am not making a case that it is acceptable for Christians to smoke, drink, use drugs, or indulge in riotous living. I am simply using extreme examples. Sin is sin.

You can substitute swearing, cheating on your taxes, lying about your age, wishing evil on some guy who just cut you off in traffic, or envying your neighbor’s new car.

(The more socially-acceptable ‘substitute list’ above breaks five of the Ten Commandments. So, what are your thoughts, now?)

I am making the case that our salvation is not contingent on our works. Every Christian is a work in progress, the Scriptures tell us.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you will PERFORM it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

I can attest to the truth of that Scripture. (So can you, if you are honest with yourself.) I am not the same man today I was when I first got saved. I went through a series of transformations over a period of many years.

I would hate to be judged today according to the man that I was when I first came to Christ. God wasn’t done with me then.

He isn’t done with me yet. There is no doubt there are many more changes He will work in me before He is through.

(And the same applies to you. No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, right now, it will only get better.)

I opened with Galatians 2:21. Paul writes, “I do not frustrate (or work against) the grace of God.” Pardon for sin comes by and through the grace of God, not our own inherent goodness.

Paul goes on to make the logical point that, “if righteousness comes by [keeping] the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

The Law pre-existed Christ’s First Advent by a thousand years. If it were sufficient, then Jesus went to the Cross for nothing. I say all that to say this:

Salvation is immediate and eternal, but our sanctification in this life is a PROCESS. No matter where you are in your walk right now, that process is still underway.

This morning’s column is not the one I intended to write. But it is the one we ended up with. I am not sure who among us the Lord is addressing this morning. But you know who you are.

Being saved doesn’t take away your sin nature. It gives you the courage to keep getting back up.

Scripture promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 5:17)

Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged. God has a purpose for your life, and He can and will still use you to His purpose. Trust Him.

And get back out there on the line where you are needed.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 11, 2007.

Featured Commentary: Silly Putty Bible ~ Alf Cengia

Hagiasmos

Hagiasmos
Vol: 21 Issue: 28 Thursday, April 28, 2016

One of the most controversial (and least understood) points of doctrine apart from eternal security or a pre-trib Rapture is the doctrine of predestination.

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29)

‘Predestination’ suffers from the same malady as do many other controversial doctrinal issues — political correctness. 

(WHAT?  No, really.  It’s true.  Hear me out.)

There are two main objections to predestination.  One is doctrinal, the other, political.  Let’s look at the political objection first.

If the doctrine of predestination is true, then it follows that those who were not predestinated to be conformed to the Image of His Son were predestinated for hell.   That is politically incorrect;  it is hateful and exclusionary.    

The second objection to predestination is that it negates free will.  Of the two objections, this seems to be the one with the least ground to stand on.   Because God knows what your decision is going to be doesn’t mean that you don’t have any choice.

I could offer you a million dollars, tax free, without any strings or a good swift kick in your behind.   I could also predict in advance what your choice would be.   

You may surprise me and choose the kick in the rear.  But my prediction would not affect your choice. 

The difference is that in my case, I could be wrong on my prediction, whereas God isn’t guessing.  He already knows.  But YOU don’t know what your choice is until you make it.

Your free will is unencumbered.  

Assessment:

Many of the same people that just can’t seem to get their head around the concept of predestination have absolutely no problem in believing in Bible prophecy.   How is it that YOU view Bible prophecy?  

Consider the following Scriptures:

“I  am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.”

“For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” (Psalms 22:14-18)

Did Psalms 22 predestinate the Crucifixion?  Or does it simply predict it?  Is there a difference?  In what way?

Did God foreknow Judas?  Did God foreknow Caiaphas?  Did God foreknow the Roman soldiers who scourged Him, spat upon Him, drove the nails into His hands and feet?   Did God foreknow which of them would gamble for His robe?

Is this really even a question?  Of course God foreknew each of them — or He couldn’t have foreknown me.  Which then means the Bible cannot be true, since it says that He foreknows us all.

Foreknowledge is the same thing as predestination in the sense that God’s knowledge is perfect.  But since you don’t know your own future, how can your free will decisions be encumbered by the fact that God does?

The politically correct response to predestination being advanced as a doctrine is to shout “Calvinist!” at the top of one’s lungs, cover one’s ears with one’s hands and to run screaming from the room.

One needn’t be a Calvinist to believe that God is omniscient.  One needn’t be a Calvinist to believe that the Old Testament prophets predicted Christ’s First Advent.  Isaiah wasn’t a Calvinist when he wrote of the suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53.

“Calvinist” is a label applied to the five major points of doctrine outlined by French theologian John Calvin in the mid-14th century.   Calvin’s five points are identified by the acronymTULIP.

  1. Total Depravity of Man
  2. Unconditional Election
  3. Limited Atonement
  4. Irresistible Grace
  5. Perseverance of the Saints

Calvinism teaches that salvation is entirely the work of God; God chose His elect, the Son died to pay their sin debt, and the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel.

I am not a Calvinist, primarily because the general understanding of Calvinism is that Calvinists need not witness to the lost because God’s irresistible grace nullifies our obligation under the Great Commission.  

So according to that understanding, I am not a Calvinist.  But that understanding is so totally flawed that it astonishes me that anyone can actually believe it.

If prophecy is foreknowledge, why is it not predestination? And if it is predestination, then what is the argument against predestination?  If prophecy were to fail, what would that mean?  That man’s free will trumps God’s foreknowledge? 

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the CALLED according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners encourages others to hope in His grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by anything done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)

It is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by His power. It was His purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of His will, and His Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our perseverance to holiness.

‘Holiness’ (Gk hagiasmos) means ‘purification’ which is a PROCESS, also accomplished by God through Jesus.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you will PERFORM it UNTIL the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)

There are no Christians more deserving than others. Because you have not yet achieved the state of holiness others have does not mean you are less favored. We all come to the Cross equally lost, and we all came away equally saved.

Salvation is an eternal state for which each of us were called before the world began, or else the Bible is not telling the truth.

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  (2 Timothy 1:9)

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that CANNOT LIE, PROMISED before the world began. . .” (Titus 1:2)

Let’s bring it together. Nobody can come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father, who provides us with both the extension of the offer of salvation and the faith necessary to receive it, a calling that was sealed in heaven before the world began, according to His purpose and grace.

Our salvation is immediate and eternal, but our purification is a process, which, having been begun in us at the moment of salvation, will be performed in us — BY CHRIST — until the day we stand before Him. Lest anyone should boast.

That’s not my opinion of what the Bible says — look up the verses in context and see if you can make them mean something else.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:23-24)

Legalism runs counter to the clear teaching of Scripture. This is a very difficult doctrine to both teach and understand. It sounds like a license to sin.  It is not.  

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

We don’t think like God does, which is why He inspired the Scriptures.   To provide us with the tiniest bit of insight into the way God sees things.

Our relationship to Christ is unique — that God knows our hearts, and has already judged us accordingly. So that sin cannot reign supreme in our mortal body and thereby render us useless to our calling.

If the enemy can convince us of our own personal unrighteousness (of which each of us is acutely aware) or cause us to doubt the truth of Scripture or of our faith (which is a gift from God, lest anyone should boast) or cause us to doubt our own salvation, then we will not be able to effectively wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

God has a plan for each of us, and His plan is to send us to seek out and introduce others to their Savior. That is our assignment on this earth. THAT is our ‘calling.’

To spread the Gospel.

As Christians, we have an awesome responsibility before God. We have been assigned to seek out the lost and offer them the Gospel. To accomplish our mission, we need to be fully equipped for the task.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1st Peter 3:15)

The most effective weapon we have in our war with the enemy is the knowledge that he cannot take away our salvation.  We walk in the light of the Gospel, but we remain human beings and sinners, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, but still trapped in the “body of this death“.

Consequently, there is never a time when we are unworthy to tell others of Jesus Christ.  

 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  (1st John 1:7-8)

Bible prophecy isn’t Calvinism.  Is Bible prophecy predestinated?  Well, it is written down in advance.  The choices necessary for its fulfillment have not yet been made by the participants. 

And God says that Bible prophecy will all be fulfilled to the letter.  What else could it be?

Predestination plays no role in your free will, or in the free will choices of anyone else.    

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9

Trust Him.  The more hopeless you think you are, the more you have to rely on Him.

Don’t let the enemy convince you that you aren’t worthy to carry the message.  After all, your prospect is just as liable to say, “Heck, if he can be saved, then there must be hope for me.”

God knew what He was doing when He gave you this job.  Trust Him.

And get ‘er done!  Maranatha!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 11, 2012

The Blessed Hope

The Blessed Hope
Vol: 21 Issue: 27 Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The timing of the Rapture is easily one of the most confusing and divisive issues within the Body of the Christ, something I’ve always considered extremely interesting.

It would seem to me that the issue of when He is coming is important only in understanding the signs of the times, but not terribly important in terms of salvation or issues of eternity, or even in terms of living a Spirit-filled life.

That being said, we ARE students of Bible prophecy; and the timing of the Rapture is extremely important to understanding the signs of the times.

There are three basic interpretations of the Rapture; pre-Tribulatonal, mid-tribulational and post-tribulational.

Pre-Trib holds to the view the Lord returns BEFORE the Tribulation.  Mid-Trib teaches that the Rapture of the Church will occur in the middle of the 7 year tribulation period.  It will occur sometime around the abomination of desolation when the anti-Christ goes into the rebuilt Jewish temple and there claim to be God.

The Post-Trib view teaches that as the Lord Jesus is returning back to earth, God’s people will be ‘caught up’ or raptured at that point in time.  They will return to earth with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each of these views can be supported, to some degree, by Scripture, but only one is correct.  I believe it is the one with the fewest problems, which is a Pre-Trib Rapture of the Church.

One of the problems with a mid-Trib view is glaring; it denies the doctrine of imminency.  Although the Scriptures teach a SECRET coming, (no man knoweth the day or hour) once the Tribulation begins, one just has to sit down with a calendar.  It will be no surprise and it will come at a known time.

Another problem with the mid-Trib Rapture view is that its followers aren’t looking for Christ, they are watching for the anti-Christ, from whom they derive their timetable.

By contrast, I am awaiting Jesus Christ.  I never expect to know who the antichrist will be, and frankly, I don’t really care.  My purpose, to the degree I even discuss the antichrist in your Omega Letter, is to demonstrate how the world is preparing for his coming — and to remind people that Jesus is coming FIRST!

The mid-Tribulation view is not widely followed for these reasons, among others.

The post-Tribulation view shares the same glaring problem as the mid-Tribbers; the denial of imminency.  It will be even easier to pinpoint the return of Christ, given the Bible gives the exact number of days between the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Matthew 24:152nd Thessalonians 2:4) and the return of the Messiah.

“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (Daniel 12:11)

Compare that to Jesus’ Words;

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

If the post-Trib view is correct, that secret is hidden only until the revelation of antichrist.

So it shares the same second flaw with the mid-Trib view; both of these interpretations make the coming of antichrist THE seminal event in prophecy.  The 2nd Coming of Christ is of only secondary importance.

The post-Tribulation view also doesn’t pass the logic test.  The post-Trib interpretation is that Jesus Raptures the Church, who then return with Him at the Battle of Armageddon.

“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 19:14)

The ‘fine linen, white and clean’ are the garments of those Washed in the Blood of the Lamb.

To make the post-Trib scenario work, Jesus must leave heaven with ‘ten thousands’ of empty white horses.  As He descends, God’s people are Raptured, presumably translated FROM this earth to the back of a white horse that is on its way back — TO this earth!

Scripture tells us that, as the return of the Lord for His Church draws near, it will be as in the days of Lot and Noah.  Noah warned of impending judgment for 120 years without a single convert.  Life went on as normal, until the floods came, and ‘took them all away’. (Matthew 24:39)

Similarly, Lot lived in a big city, surrounded by immorality so repugnant to God that He decided to judge the wicked city with Divine judgment.  Lot was secretly removed from the unsuspecting city before judgment was executed.

But to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, life went on as usual until the moment of judgment fell.

Consider the consequences of the Tribulation Period.  Widespread death and destruction, the annihilation of 3/4’s of the human race, miraculous judgments like the sea turned to blood and a ruined ecology, disease, famine, and catastrophe . . . hardly fits with the days of Lot OR Noah.

“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:28-30)

The next problem with this view is what happens next.  According to Scripture, the earth is repopulated during the Millennial Kingdom period.

If all God’s people are raptured as the Lord Jesus returns that will leave only the wicked on earth when He returns.  The wicked will be destroyed as they will NEVER inherit the kingdom of God.

So if the wicked are destroyed and God’s people are all raptured then who will be left to enter into the 1000 year Kingdom?

It is for these reasons, and more, that I believe that the Dispensationalist, pre-Tribulationistview of the Rapture is the only one consistent with the teachings of the Scriptures.

It allows for a secret, signless, Rapture of the Church, as taught by Our Lord.

Assessment:

Now, what about the “Restrainer?”  The word “Restrainer” doesn’t even appear in the Bible, so what’s the deal there?

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)

Let’s take this verse one bite at a time.  First, the “mystery of iniquity.”

The word ‘iniquity’ is from the Greek word ‘anomia’ meaning, a violation of the law.  It is related to ‘anomos’, a ‘lawless person’, ‘a transgressor.’

It is rendered ‘lawlessness’ in some translations and means the same as unrighteousness.  Sin, or ‘iniquity’ is the transgression of the law.

The Old English word “let” meant the opposite of what it means today.  In modern English, to ‘let’ someone or something generally means ‘to allow’ someone or something.  In 1611, ‘let’ meant ‘to restrain’.

“Let” is translated from the Greek word “kataschesis” which means, “a holding, occupancy or possession’.

It isn’t a completely archaic meaning.  From time to time, you’ll see an ad in a newspaper saying, “Room to Let.”  In essence, it is an offer to occupy or possess that room.  Note also that Paul personifies the One Who “lets” referring to the Restrainer twice as “He.”

So, added together, we find the following: Lawlessness is already at work, only He Who occupies will continue to occupy until He is “taken out of the way.”

What is the identity of the ‘He’ in this passage? He restrains lawlessness by His ‘occupation’ — and at some point, that occupying restraint is “taken out of the way.”

That Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit is obvious from even a casual reading of this verse.  There is only one ‘Indwelling Restrainer” — the Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer during the Church Age.

Jesus promised that the Comforter, or Holy Spirit, would indwell the Church until He returns for it.

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. . . . But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My Name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:18,26)

Paul says that FIRST, the Restrainer is ‘taken out of the way’ and “THEN shall that Wicked be revealed. . .” (2nd Thessalonians 2:8)

Nobody can be saved apart from the Holy Spirit.  The Scriptures say He is ‘taken out of the way’ — NOT removed from the earth.

THAT would be impossible.  God is omnipresent — if the Holy Spirit were ‘removed’ in the sense of not being here, then ‘here’ wouldn’t be here, either.  It isn’t the Holy Spirit that is removed, it is the vessels He indwell.

Because it is the indwelt Church that restrains evil.  The Holy Spirit of God doesn’t restrain pornographers, abortionists, (name your favorite institutionalized sin here).  The proof of that truth is found in the fact such things exist.

The Holy Spirit isn’t picketing porno houses or abortion clinics — that is the job of the indwelt Church.  It won’t be the lost who would recognize the antichrist from his doctrine — it would be those indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, he won’t be revealed as long as those who would recognize him continue to inhabit the earth.

There are those who are saved during the Tribulation, and that cannot happen apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1st Corinithians 1:18)

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinithians 2:14)

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father SEALED.” (John 6:27)

“In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were SEALED with that Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13)

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are SEALED unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

“Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Revelation 7:3-4)

The 144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel are ‘sealed’ with the Holy Spirit — indeed, the Lord Jesus devotes an entire chapter of His Revelation to the subject.  That raises a question: If the indwelt and sealed Church were present, then why seal the 144,000 Jews as evangelists with the Holy Spirit?

The Church Age is over.  Those indwelt of the Holy Spirit have been removed at the Rapture.  Still, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that one can either impart or receive the Gospel.

However, unlike in the Church Age, those who are saved during the Tribulation are not personally indwelt as in the Church Age and they CAN lose their salvation by accepting the Mark of the Beast.

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:” (Revelation 14:9-10)

The 144,000 Jewish evangelists sealed by the Holy Spirit of God have the same indwelling Spirit that we do during the Church Age — and that is what empowers them.

The last bit of evidence that suggests the Church is not present during the Tribulation Period is the fact that the Great Commission is transferred from the Church to an angel.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6)

During the Church Age, the Church is empowered to preach the everlasting Gospel. But the only ones sharing the Gospel during the Tribulation are the 144,000 sealed of God and the angel of Revelation 14.

These cannot be the Church, or even surviving members of the Church.  John says that ALL of them are Jewish.  All of them are male.  All of them are virgins.  And ALL of them know a ‘new song’ that nobody else (including the Church) can learn. (Revelation 14:3-4)

So, the answer to the question of how people get saved during the Tribulation is that the Holy Spirit remains on the earth, but after the Church Age, indwells only the Chosen of the 12 Tribes, who then share the Gospel with the lost.

Finally, since the Tribulation Period is also the conclusion of the Old Testament, believers during the Tribulation are dealt with in the same manner as with the Old Testament saints.

So, we in the Church Age watch for signs of the antichrist, because if the signs of the antichrist’s revelation are there, then it means the Rapture is even closer.  As to naming him, it is irrelevant.

We wouldn’t know if we were right, even if we were.  Unless every Scripture passage I’ve cited means something else than what it says.

If the Lord’s intent was for the Church to be present for the Tribulation Period, then the signs of His return are of little value.  We, (the Church) would recognize the antichrist for who he is.

When a world leader demands we all accept a mark in our right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell, that would be all the sign we’d need.

But Jesus addressed ALL the signs leading up to the Tribulation Period. Of them, He said,

“When these things BEGIN to come to pass (not AFTER all these things have been accomplished) then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

No other explanation makes sense.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 17, 2009.

A Workman is Only As Good As His Tools

A Workman is Only As Good As His Tools
Vol: 21 Issue: 26 Tuesday, April 26, 2016

According to the Book of the Revelation the antichrist will declare war on the followers of Jesus and will also have the power to “overcome” them.  That seems a glaring contradiction with other Scriptures that promise that the Enemy cannot “overcome” them under any circumstances.

The Apostle John is called in Scripture “the disciple that Jesus loved” and the Gospel that bears his name is not included among the Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptics are eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ humanity.

The Apostle John was uniquely gifted with special insights.  John’s Gospel is an eyewitness account of His Divinity. John is also the author of four other New Testament works, the three Epistles that bear his name and the Book of the Revelation.

In the Apostle’s First Letter, written as a general sermon to be circulated through the churches of Asia Minor, John takes pains to explain the believer’s position as a vessel of the Holy Spirit specifically as it relates to the spirit of antichrist.  

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

The Apostle John was writing to the Church at the beginning of the Dispensation of Grace.  Later, the Apostle John is given a revelation from Jesus Christ with more specifics about the antichrist during the Tribulation Period.

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)

The word translated as “overcome” in both these texts is the Greek word, nikao which means, ‘to conquer, prevail, get the victory over”.  

Same prophet, same word, same meaning.  Except in one case, the saints have overcome the spirits of antichrist (past tense) and in the next, the antichrist overcomes (prevails, gets the victory over,) the saints!

Which is it? Both cannot be simultaneously true – indeed, the two verses directly contradict each other. 

Time for a pop quiz.  The saints of God cannot be overcome because. . . ?

Do you see it?  The saints to whom John is writing at the beginning of the Church Age are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, and greater is He that is indwelling you than the spirit of antichrist in the world.  Does the Holy Spirit indwell the Tribulation Saints?

“Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

What does that mean, “rightly dividing the Word?” Clearly it must mean that there are multiple ways to divide the word, but not all of them are right. Does it not?

The Word divides itself if one will simply allow it to — without going all symbolic and metaphorical on it. By following a simple rule, “when the literal sense makes literal sense, take it literally” the Word divides itself according to Dispensation of Divine Revelation.

Currently, we are in the Dispensation of Grace, which is followed by the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, for which we of the Dispensation of Grace:

“have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye weresealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13)

Note the italicized points.  Trusted in Christ, heard the Word of Truth, after that you believed, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Trusted, believed, sealed.  And what is that Promise, again?

“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever . . . I will not leave you Comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:16,18)

But if the Church is subjected to the Tribulation, that promise must be amended to read; “Except at that singularly horrific moment in mankind’s history when the saints will need the Comforter the most.”

Then, it seems, the indwelling Comforter is gone and the saints are overcome, conquered, defeated, by the antichrist — who is given power to gain the victory over them.

How does this all work together to make sense?  Can you work it out and have it make sense?

Not if the saints that John witnessed being overcome by antichrist in Revelation 13:7 are the same saints to whom John was writing his first Epistle. 

Remember – same Apostle, same word, same meaning.

What is different is the Dispensation. There remains an unfulfilled seven year period of Old Testament history – the time of Jacob’s Trouble, the 70th Week of Daniel, or the Tribulation Period.  

Here is the chronology. The Holy Spirit indwelt the Church at Pentecost – He is withdrawn, together with the vessels He indwells, at the Rapture.  Thus ends the Dispensation of Grace.

At some point after that, the first judgment of the Tribulation is imposed by God.  That judgment is symbolized by a rider on a white horse carrying a bow but no arrows, with which ‘he goes forth conquering and to conquer.’ (Revelation 6:1-2)

The antichrist is the first of the twenty-one judgments to be imposed against they “that dwell upon the earth” during this time.  Judgment, in order to be judgment, can only be imposed upon those who have been condemned. 

Were the judgment of the Tribulation imposed upon the Church, that would seem a contradiction. . .

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”(Romans 8:1)

So if the Church is in the Tribulation, it also means that it is under judgment, a believer can be overcome by the antichrist and believers will face the choice of a horrible death for refusing to mark or eternal damnation for accepting it. 

And the fact that they were already saved and covered by the Blood of Christ before the Tribulation began is somehow, for the first time in the history of the Church, irrelevant.  

It is a fact that the Promise that held true for all the Christians that came before doesn’t apply to the Tribulation saints.  They are indeed overcome by the antichrist. 

Are they the saints of the Promise? 

In Revelation 7 the “Seal of the Living God” is sealed in the foreheads of the “servants of God” who are then identified specifically as twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  

John goes into detail, naming each patriarch by name and the number of his descendents to be sealed.

Look back up the page to Ephesians 1:13 and the word “sealed.”  The word “sphragizo” means “to stamp” – as with a signet or private mark.”  It is the same word used in Revelation 7

They are the Tribulation saints.  They are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Not by grace through faith, but by number, according to DNA.  They are given the power to spread the Gospel until being overcome by the antichrist and either submitting to the Mark or being beheaded.

In either case, there are no more Tribulation saints by Revelation 14, where they are all depicted in heaven, and recipients of a new song that only the 144,000 could learn.   

None of the Church Age Saints could learn it. And they aren’t down there spreading the Gospel, either. That job has since been passed on to an angel:

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6)

To summarize (again -this is a lot to take in) there is but one way for the narrative to flow without interruption.  The Church Age concludes with the Rapture.

The purpose of the Tribulation is to bring about Israel’s national redemption (Daniel 9Zechariah 12-14, etc) and to judge a Christ-rejecting world.

The Church Age cannot include any part of the Tribulation Period without putting the Church under the judgment of the antichrist, which would negate the victory won for it at the Cross. 

The Tribulation saints are the 144,000 Jews sealed by the Holy Spirit — and the converts they win before being overcome by antichrist.  

Bible prophecy, systematic theology and Dispensationalism are mutually dependent disciplines in that one cannot fully understand any one of them without a grasp of all three.

You needn’t adhere to those disciplines to be saved. But you do if you want to understand Bible prophecy.  

You can try to invent your own system — lots of folks do.   Look at all the failed efforts to pinpoint the date of the Rapture or to identify the antichrist.  

Even if we can see him coming, the Church won’t know who he is. The only reason for this generation to be looking for signs of the antichrist is because there are no signs of the Rapture.

NOBODY is saved according to what they believe about the Rapture or the Tribulation.   We are saved by grace through faith in the finished Work of the Cross, not by our understanding of Bible prophecy.

But Paul called Timothy “a workman” – a laborer of Christ.  As such, his toolbox is the Word of Truth.  Not all Christians are called to be workmen.  And not all Christians heed the call they are given.

But if one is to be a workman for Christ, he will only be as good as his tools.   

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 2, 2011.

Featured Commentary: What’s in a Name? ~ Wendy Wippel

”There is No Dog”

”There is No Dog”
Vol: 21 Issue: 25 Monday, April 25, 2016

Oftentimes the first objection raised by the skeptic when introduced to the God of the Bible is the argument that God is not fair.   It is an argument for which I can offer no rebuttal.  Godisn’t fair, which is a good thing for the rest of humanity.

But that isn’t something that the carnal mind can understand because it is spiritually discerned.   So to them, God isn’t fair because a loving God wouldn’t send people to hell.  

A petulant, angry and unfair God could not simultaneously be the loving God of Christianity – -therefore God cannot exist.

If God really loved the world so much that He would send His Son to die for it,  why did He create sin in the first place?  God is the Creator of all, isn’t He?  So He created hell, right?  So that means He created sin, doesn’t it?   

To the carnal mind, these questions make perfect sense, since they confirm the skeptic’s own mental caricature of God.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7)

The challenge facing the skeptic is that his judgment of God is rendered according to the skeptic’s own limited understanding.  Sort of like a flea issuing the solemn evaluation that, because he can’t see him, “there is no Dog.”

Clearly, the flea is something of a fool, since the evidence that Dog exists is everywhere around him.  The thick fur that shelters him comes from Dog. The food that he eats comes from Dog.  Without Dog, he would surely die.

Dog is everywhere in his universe, but our flea can only see his tiny piece of it.  And from his limited perspective,  there is no Dog.   But whether or not Dog exists is not dependent on the flea’s opinion — other than to the flea.   

The skeptic’s judgments about God are rooting in a litany of similarly false assumptions. The first false assumption about God is that, because God loves us so much, He ought to let us do what we want.  That is nothing less than deliberate, willful ignorance.

The same kind of permissive kind of love that they insist would characterize a “loving God” — when applied to children, doesn’t produce loving children. It produces spoiled brats.

God’s moral laws have a purpose and are as necessary to the development of human civilization as the laws of physics are to the development of scientific understanding.  But the main purpose of God’s moral laws are to teach us what God requires for us to enter into His kingdom.

It is our obvious failure to keep these moral laws that leads humans to seek redemption and salvation in the first place. We can’t help it. Even an atheist, if he is honest, will admit that at some time in his life, he did or said something he was sorry for. Humans are built that way. 

The second false assumption is that we are qualified to judge what constitutes “fair.”

That gives rise to the question; “So why doesn’t God make everyone into perfect beings and allow them all into heaven?”   But that would be totally unfair to all concerned.  It would actually be cruel if God were to do this, since that would force them to accept what their free will choices rejected.

The people who end up going to hell will have done so because they believe they would prefer hell to being forced into the presence of God for all eternity. It is their choice to make, and many make it with eyes wide open.

People like to live in their favorite sins and be accountable to no one for their choices.

They fear that if they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior that God will want them to change their lives and they might have to give up some of their autonomy.

We’ve all witnessed to somebody at some time who said something like, “I’ve a window seat reserved in hell” or, “I don’t mind going to hell. All my friends will be there.” 

God isn’t SENDING them to hell.  He is instead honoring their own deliberate choice.  While God  provided a way for man to avoid hell, but He also gave man free will to choose.

Being compelled to worship God isn’t ‘worship’ — it is slavery.

Since God created spiritual beings for the purpose of expressing love, those beings must have complete free will in order to express that love.  But free will allows for the possibility of rejecting God’s mercy and instead demanding (and receiving) judgment by a God of “fairness.”

They protest, “It isn’t fair that only some people will get to go to heaven, while the rest will go to hell.” 

In a limited sense, they are right. If God were fair, EVERYBODY would go to hell. Nobody can live a sinless life, even after they are saved and their sins are washed away. The struggle with sin continues until one draws his last breath.  

Therefore, God has made a provision to erase all sins that we have committed in this life and to perfect us by experience so that we will not be tempted to sin in the next life. That vicarious payment for sin is through the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus lived the sinless life that God expects of me, then paid the penalty that my sins required on my behalf. That is mercy, not fairness.  Fairness demands equal punishment for believer and unbeliever alike. 

Upon accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, all our sins are erased, and Jesus begins the work of changing us to conform to His image.

Obviously, ‘fairness’ demands that everyone who has sinned and come short of the glory of Godbe judged according to their works. Instead of fairness, God extends mercy — but only to those who ask for it.  That is where God is ‘fair’. 

It is the atheist and the skeptic who will experience their own definition of’fairness’ when they stand before Him.

The skeptic and the atheist scoff at the nature of salvation, saying anything that is ‘free’ is worth what you pay for it. While salvation is a gift of grace and not of works, one can’t exactly say that salvation is free.

There is a cost. 

It will cost you your sin. It will cost you your pride. It will cost you your sense of self, or your selfishness. None of these character traits exist in heaven. 

But the skeptic or atheist who prefers to hang onto these traits can choose to go to where these traits will continue to  exist. Every human was created in God’s Image, with an eternal, spiritual component.

We will all spend eternity somewhere. If not heaven, there is only one choice remaining. That is hell. 

Does a loving God send people to hell? No. 

What a loving God does is allow us all to make our own choice and then honor the choice we make. People CHOOSE hell.  The atheist or skeptic can choose to stand before a fair God, or a merciful One.

In either case, they can’t blame God then for the consequences of choices that they make now.  That wouldn’t be fair.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 10, 2009

Featured Commentary: Signs of the End: Part 4 of 5: Prelude to War: The Rapture ~ Pete Garcia

TANSTAAFL

TANSTAAFL
Vol: 21 Issue: 23 Saturday, April 23, 2016

When I was a young man, among my favorite books were the early works of a science-fiction writer named Robert Heinlein. A Marine buddy introduced me to them by lending me a book called, ”The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”

Throughout the book, whenever it fit the story plotline, one of the characters would utter the catchphrase, “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” by its acronym, ‘TANSTAAFL’.

It was one of those oddball phrases that stuck in my head because of the simple truth it conveyed; in this world, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Everything comes with a price tag.  

It is a basic law of physics as expressed by the phrase, “for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.”

As a principle, it stands at the core of economic theory, as well as virtually every other area of human endeavor. God so designed this universe that that everything is, in the end, a zero-sum game – all things balance out to zero eventually.

The Book of Ecclesiastes, or “the Preacher” was written by the wisest man the world has ever known, King Solomon. Late in his life, Solomon realized his gift of wisdom had benefited all but himself. 

The Book of Ecclesiastes could be described as the somewhat bitter memoir of a wise old man who looks back on a life filled with regrets. It is lots more than that.

Many Christians find Ecclesiastes a gloomy book; its central theme is that life is pointless, (all is vanity) and since all that awaits us is the grave, “every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)

But if there is one central theme in the Book of Ecclesiastes, it is TANSTAAFL.

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

Critics and skeptics argue that these verses contradict Scriptures that speak of the afterlife and resurrection.  There will always be critics and skeptics that will find a way to read Scripture to make it sound like there are contradictions.

They are so intent on disproving the wisdom of Scripture that the wisdom of Solomon goes completely over their heads. 

Solomon is expressing reality as viewed from this side of eternity.  All of his laments make the same case. All is vanity.

You can be the wisest man who ever lived. You can have all the riches the world can offer. You can be the world’s most powerful king and have the world’s most desirable woman for your queen.  

You can have the admiration of men and the love of women and the riches and wisdom of Solomon, but in the end, it is STILL a zero-sum game.

“Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.” (Ecclesiastes 2:15-16)

Ecclesiastes isn’t a gloomy book.  Neither is it contradictory.  Written by the wisest man who ever lived, it is unsurprising that those who attempt to understand it’s message apart from the Holy Spirit miss it completely. 

They are looking for what they think is the central theme of the Bible.  That because the Bible freely offers salvation to “whosoever will” that the Bible offers a free lunch. 

Solomon isn’t contradicting Scripture, he is setting the record straight.  They are looking for a free lunch. 

TANSTAAFL.  There ain’t one.

Assessment:

By now I can almost hear some of you arguing with me in your head; “What are you saying! Salvation is a free gift.  The Bible says so! Look!

“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Romans 5:15)

See! FREE GIFT.  A GIFT has to be FREE, or it isn’t a gift!  Right?

“And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” (Romans 5:16)

See! FREE gift!

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

See! Free gift upon all men is this HARD?

TANSTAAFL!  Read it more closely.  The gift of eternal life is free – to YOU.  But the price paid to secure it was unimaginably high. 

You just weren’t the one that had to pay for it.  Jesus Christ paid the price for every sin you ever committed or ever will commit — on the Cross at Calvary.

And it HAD to be that way.  He could not pay the price for just some of the sins you commit – that is an imperfect price. Since there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as a partial payment on a free gift.

To be free, the payment must be in full and to be a gift, it must be offered without further payment due.

The gift of salvation wasn’t free – it was paid for with the Blood of Jesus Christ.  Does that mean that you can now sin with impunity? 

That’s what lots of people teach, even though logic and experience and the principle of TANSTAAFL prove the opposite to be the case.

Even more will reject the idea eternal security on the grounds that it is a free lunch, which they logically – and correctly — understand to be impossible in God’s creation.  Nothing is free.  Not in the here and now and not in the hereafter.

My salvation was purchased for me. It was then offered to me as a free gift.  Once I have accepted it, it is mine forever – once saved, always saved.  But that does not mean that I am exempt from the consequences of sin – I certainly am not.

If one smokes, one will pay the consequences.  Smokers get COPD, lung cancer, emphysema, etc.  Continuing to smoke after salvation will kill you just as dead, just as slowly and painfully as it would an unsaved smoker.   

Chronic boozers get cirrhosis, heart disease, and all kinds of other ailments.

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.”

“Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” (Proverbs 23:29-32)

It is often rightly said that sin will take you further than you want to go and keep you there longer than you want to be there.  That is one of those universally true statements because it is founded in a universal truth.  

Sin has consequences.  But sin is NOT the dividing line between heaven and hell.  One doesn’t go to heaven because one is sinless or to hell because one is a sinner.  If that is true, then Jesus Christ would still be the only human qualified to enter.

And strictly speaking, He IS the only one qualified to enter – on His own merit.  The rest of us are qualified by Jesus, based on His righteousness and not our own.

Jesus paid the eternal penalty due for all sin – but the temporal penalties remain outstanding.

A saved person cannot sin with impunity. There are physical consequences attached to sin.  There are social consequences attached to sin. There are emotional consequences attached to sin.  Sin hurts a saved person more than it does a lost person. 

But sin isn’t the determining factor between saved and lost. ALL Christians are sinners.  The determining factor in salvation is whether you repented (changed your mind) about sin and turned your life and your will over to Jesus Christ and then trusted Him with your eternity.

Neither can a person sin without spiritual consequences — as well as physical ones.  Each of us will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to answer for those things we have done in this life.

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14)

God has a plan for your life and it will be reviewed at the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ.  There you will be rewarded for the times you were faithful and you will give account for the times you were not.  

You will see the rewards you would have earned, had you been where you were supposed to be when you were off sinning somewhere.

Your sinful works will be tested by fire, and burned into so much ash and stubble, and you WILL suffer loss.  Unimaginable loss – for eternity. 

But not the loss of eternity.  Your eternal security is not a free lunch.  Jesus paid for it.  Your sin is not a free lunch. You will pay for it.  Just not in hell.

“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

You cannot ignore the consequences of sin simply because Jesus has ransomed your eternity.  You cannot smoke without consequence. Or drink without consequence. Or stuff yourself without consequence.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Obviously, this destruction can only refer to the ‘temple’ – the body – and not the eternal soul that Paul just finished saying would be saved, yet so as by fire.  

Defile the temple and God will destroy it.  Need another proof text?  Visit a cancer ward.

What is the point here?  Eternal security is NOT a free lunch.  To argue otherwise elevates man to the level where he plays an instrumental role in his own salvation.   

 “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

“Not Thee, Lord, but thee and me.” That elevation comes at a price by minimizing the price paid at Calvary.  Jesus can’t do it, but together, we can.  

“And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are Your’s.”

If salvation is a case of “Thee and me” then there would be ample reason to glory in men.

“I am saved because Jesus paid the price and now I don’t sin.  I used to be a terrible sinner, but now just look at me. Look at what Jesus can do.”

That is why if one sins after being saved, there is no way to renew him to repentance, as Hebrews 6:6 says, “seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame.”

If you don’t sin anymore because of what Jesus did for you, what does it say about Jesus when you fall? For you will fall.  Did you fall?  Or did Jesus drop you?   

Why is this important?  Because there is no “license to sin.” Salvation is not a function of sin.  It is a function of grace.  There is no such thing as a free lunch. There is a huge difference between consequences and penalties.

Consequences are the effect, cause or outcome of an action.  A consequence can be good or bad.  A person can save someone’s life and consequently be awarded a medal. Or he can stand by and do nothing and consequently that person will die.  

Consequences are simply outcomes of particular actions.  

penalty is a punishment imposed for a violation or crime.  A penalty is always bad and can never be good.   Eternal security means that the penalty due for my sin was paid for by Jesus Christ. 

But the consequences of my sins are on me.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 19, 2011