Resolutions. . .

Resolutions. . .
Vol: 30 Issue: 30 Saturday, December 30, 2017

The celebration of the New Year is one of mankind’s oldest customs, dating back some four thousand years to ancient Babylon. The ancient Babylonians celebrated a new year with the first New Moon of the Vernal Equinox (the first day of spring).

It was a logical time to start a new year; the first day of spring is a time of renewal. It was when new crops were planted, flowers and trees began to blossom and the year actually DID begin anew in a real and tangible way.

The Romans continued the tradition of celebrating the new year in March until about 150 BC. By then, the various Roman emperors had so messed up the calendar that it was out of synch with the sun. The Roman Senate selected January 1 as the first day of the new year. A hundred years later, Julius Caesar established the Julian Calendar. By 46 BC, successive emperors had thrown the calendar off by so much that to make it work, the year before the calendar went into effect was 445 days long.

Until about four hundred years ago, New Year’s Day was (accurately) dismissed as a pagan holiday and accordingly, it was not celebrated by the Church.

One of the oldest New Year’s traditions is practice of making noise at the stroke of midnight. Noisemakers, horns and so forth are rooted in the pagan practice of driving away evil spirits who it was believed flocked to be among the living at the start of the new year.

Another, that of unbridled drinking the night before, was a holdover from the Babylonian custom of personally re-enacting the chaos that existed before the gods brought order to the world.

Assessment:

Considering the absolutely pagan nature of celebrating the New Year, should Christians participate? This is one of those issues of individual soul liberty.

Paul addresses this issue, writing;

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)

According to Paul, the origins and customs of a particular holiday are irrelevant, what matters is motive.

“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:15)

Take, for example, the New Year’s custom of making resolutions. The custom also traces its origins in ancient Babylon. Babylonian farmers would take the occasion to inventory and return borrowed farm equipment.

But if one takes that same pagan custom and uses it to make resolutions of self-improvement before the Lord, is it still pagan? As Paul noted; “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

I am fully persuaded that there is nothing of human origin in this world not contaminated in some way by paganism. Most of our ‘Christmas’ customs predate Christ by centuries.

Resurrection Sunday, the ONE event directly ordained by the Lord (“Do this in remembrance of Me”) has been corrupted into some kind of perverted “Ides of March” festival involving rabbits, eggs and other pagan fertility symbols.

Retailers prepare for Easter by stocking up with chocolate Easter bunnies, decorated eggs and candy chicks. The customs associated with Easter are almost wholly pagan, right down to the Christian custom of sunrise service. (That harkens back to the pagan practice of sun-worship.)

But that doesn’t stop Christians from celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord on the same day that the world celebrates the pagan renewal rites of spring.

I don’t generally participate in most traditional American New Year’s customs. I am usually in bed well before midnight. But I am faithful to the custom of making New Year’s resolutions. The practice of making New Year’s resolutions is one of self-examination, confession and repentance, even among the most secular of people.

I like to think of each New Year as a reminder to God’s People that we are not perfect — only forgiven. There is still plenty of room for improvement.

To that end, New Year’s Day is the day I take inventory of my service record from the year before, and re-dedicate myself to His service for the coming year.

This year, I resolve to put away those sins “which doth so easily beset us” and to “run with patience the race that is set before” me. (Hebrews 12:1)

I resolve to be a better man, a better Christian, a better friend and a better soldier in the Lord’s service. The fact that I make the same resolution every year is all the evidence I need to prove to myself that there is still lots and lots of room for improvement.

May God grant each of us a blessed, prosperous and happy new year. May He make each of us useful servants and fierce warriors in His cause. May He grant us victory over the enemies of the Gospel and grant us victory over our own shortcomings.

In 2018, we resolve to live each day as if the trumpet will sound before morning.

Because in 2018, it just might.

“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)

Happy New Year, brothers and sisters! May 2018 be THE year.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 31, 2005 *Updated dates

Blessed Assurance

Blessed Assurance
Vol: 30 Issue: 29 Friday, December 29, 2017

In broad doctrinal terms, ‘assurance’ is the confidence that a right relationship exists between the believer and the Lord.  That is not to say that assurance is the same thing as eternal security.

Eternal security is a fact as a consequence of God’s faithfulness whether that fact is realized by the believer or not. Assurance is what one believes to be true respecting himself at any given time.

One’s assurance may well rest on one’s own personal righteousness.  Where one sees oneself’s standing with God is a source of either great comfort or great apprehension.   The Prophet Isaiah writes:

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” (Isaiah 32:7)

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.”  (Colossians 2:2)

“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:” (Hebrews 6:11)

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)

Assurance, resting on true faith, a true hope, a true understanding and imputed righteousness, is that quality that permits a believer to say without hesitation or fear of contradiction, “I know that I am saved.”

But salvation does not come from assurance and assurance doesn’t necessarily come with salvation.  I know lots of folks of whom I am more certain they are saved than they are.   

They know in Whom they have put their faith. .  .

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2nd Timothy 1:12)

But they just can’t fully believe that He is able.

Assessment:

As we see from the Scriptures and from our own experience, assurance is based on two things: the Word of God and that experience.   The inward witness of the Holy Spirit is a definite Christian experience.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)

That still, small voice that you hear is the Holy Spirit.   Then there is that physical thrill that sometimes goes through you when you are praying or singing hymns or giving Him praise.  I often think of it as a spiritual ‘hug’ to lift me up and keep me going.  

But it’s actually His Spirit bearing witness to my spirit that everything is ok between us.

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son.”

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son.” (1st John 5:9-10)

Our assurance is based on the reality of God. It is one thing to know of God and quite another to know God.  Knowledge of God is something everybody has, whether or not they care to acknowledge it.  But knowing God is something that takes place within the human heart.  

The person whose assurance is weak can take comfort from the knowledge that if they weren’tsaved, they wouldn’t be worried about it.  

The reality of prayer is another place where one can be reassured.  The Scriptures say to “pray without ceasing” – if I am awake and thinking, I’m probably praying.  Not because I am some spiritual giant, but because I can’t help myself.    

I don’t have to start to pray – I’m in constant mental contact, whether I intend to be or not.  “Wow, Lord! Did You see that?” Or something good happens, and my first thought is, “Thank You, Lord.”

You can take assurance from your hunger for the Word of God.  Even when you are feeling like the low-down worthless sinner that you know that you are, you can find assurance in His Word – but the real assurance is to be found in the fact you’re looking there.  

You can take assurance from that new sense of kinship. To be born of God is to be part of the family and household of God.  Anytime I need a little assurance, I need go no further than our OL fellowship forums. 

The Apostle John presents this as a test of the reality of our relationship and the certainty of our blessed assurance:

“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1st John 3:10,14)

Our assurance is promised in the Word of God.  “Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out,” Jesus promised.  

If you don’t have that sense of assurance, then the most obvious cure is to hit your knees and make sure you’ve got your business straight with God.  But your salvation isn’t based on yourfaithfulness.  It is based on God’s faithfulness.

He is faithful to keep His Word.  He will not cast out any that come to Him.  Feelings and experience have their place – but the crowning evidence of one’s salvation is not how one feelsabout it. 

The crowning evidence is the truthfulness of God. The Word of God is our title deed to eternal life.

“He that hath the Son hath life.” (John 5:12)

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1st Peter 1:5)

Maranatha!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 21, 2010

Keeping The Faith

Keeping The Faith
Vol: 30 Issue: 28 Thursday, December 28, 2017

Today’s Omega Letter isn’t for everybody.  If things are going fine in your Christian life, your faith is strong, and you are confident of your standing before God, then maybe you can skip this one.  You probably won’t relate to it anyway.

But if you sometimes lay awake at night wondering if maybe you really aren’t good enough to be saved, or maybe you’ve misunderstood something and maybe you really aren’t saved, then you might want to read on.

Faith is at once as simple as a recipe for boiling water and as complicated as a recipe for coq au vin.  It really depends on how many ingredients you think necessary.

For some, faith means, “Jesus said it, I believe it and that settles it.”  That pretty much sums up their Christianity. They don’t feel the need to examine their faith on a regular basis, or in some cases, at all.

I know of people who never go to church and never talk about Jesus and who live life pretty much the same as if they had never heard of Him. You wouldn’t know that they were Christians unless you brought the subject up.

But when the subject comes up, some seem to be more at peace with their salvation than many serious, mature and dedicated Christians that are constantly worried about losing their salvation.

Do you not know people like that?  Are they really saved?  They think they are.  Although a lot of Christians I know would say they are not.

Conversely, I know many mature, well-studied, serious and dedicated Christians that are constantly reexamining their faith and never completely sure if it measures up.  For them, faith is a deeply complicated subject that involves all kinds of additional steps and support mechanisms.

Do you not know people like that, too?

The writer of Hebrews defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1

When you go to work on Monday, it is because you expect a paycheck on Friday.  The paycheck is the substance of things hoped for, and the fact you show up on the job is the evidence that you’re expecting to be paid.

If you didn’t have faith that there’d be a payday, then your lack of faith would be evident when you didn’t show up.  

This is where faith and works get confused. You don’t go to the job in order to have faith in your boss.  You go to the job BECAUSE you have faith in your boss.  

That is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote; “The just shall live by faith.”  They don’t live by faith because they are just.  They are just because they live by faith.  It is faith that justifies. 

But faith in what?

Assessment:

 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

Have you ever wondered if you were losing your faith? (If not, then why are you still here? I told you this one isn’t for you.)

The first question to be asked and answered is so simple as to often be ignored.  Where did you put it?

Is your faith in your ability to keep the Word?  If so, then your faith is in yourself – no wonder you waver so much.

Is it in your pastor or Bible teacher? That’s a pretty dangerous place to put it, since he is, by definition, a prime target on the enemy hit list. 

You would be surprised how many prominent Christian leaders suffer faith crises – especially the ones that seem to have it the most together.The more prominent or effective the teacher, the more intensely the enemy focuses his attack. 

Look at how many prominent men of faith have fallen — and fallen hard — from Jimmy Swaggart to Ted Haggard. Are they lost now?  Were they ever really saved?  

Think of how that affected their followers: Was I following a false doctrine?  Am I now?  

Paul says that a man is “justified by faith.”  What does that mean?  Faith in Jesus?  What does that mean?  Does faith mean simply believing that He lived and died and was resurrected on the third day? 

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

So clearly, faith isn’t the same as simply believing.  Satan believes

If your faith is in the indwelling Holy Spirit to keep you from sin, then what does it mean when you do sin? (for you certainly will.)   Is the Holy Spirit faithless?  Or are you?  If you are faithless, then how can you be saved? 

If your faith is in Jesus Christ’s Promise that “him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” well, that sounds too easy to be true sometimes, doesn’t it? Especially when there are so many others all around you that don’t seem to have the same struggles that you do.  

That by itself is enough to cause a major faith crisis.  Here you are, struggling through, knowing how many times you fall in the course of a single day, while other Christians seem to have it nailed. 

I’m not going to soothe you by telling you that you’re doing it right.  Or that you can’t do better.  Or that you shouldn’t do better. Because you likely aren’t, probably can, and certainly should.

But if your faith is in your ability to perform, then no wonder you question it.  That is why salvation is by faith that, by the grace of God, Jesus did it all — because you can’t do any of it.  

Salvation is about having faith that you can trust the promises of God. Faith that He will perform them, not faith that you will.   

“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)

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)

Those are both pretty much unambiguous, black-and-white statements.  How much faith must one have to be saved? How faithful must one be to stay saved? Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains. 

Can you move mountains?

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 26, 2011

Featured Commentary: Temptation ~J.L. Robb

Grace and Guilt

Grace and Guilt
Vol: 30 Issue: 27 Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Grace is one of those Divine topics that is so deep and wide and endless that there can never be enough said about it.  It is so complex in its simplicity that a full understanding of it probably cannot be had this side of heaven.

Grace is easier to define by what it is not than by what it is.  Grace is not mercy or love.  In Ephesians 2:4-6 three doctrines are outlined in their individual and specific understandings; grace, mercy, and love. 

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”

God is rich in mercy.  He loves us with great love.  But we are not saved by mercy or love.  One can extend mercy without extending grace. 

We are not saved by His love.  If we know anything from Scripture about man’s relationship with God, it is this: God loves all sinners.  Not all sinners are or will be saved.

Addressing mercy first, one could define Divine mercy as God’s compassion, which moved Him to provide a Savior in the first place.  If God could save a single soul on the basis of His mercy alone, then every soul could be saved on that basis.   In that case, Christ’s death was unnecessary.

As for God’s love, it is reflective of God’s infinite character. It is the motivating purpose behind all that God does on man’s behalf.  The Bible says that there is joy in heaven at the salvation of one sinner.

But God’s infinite character is that of holy and righteous love and since sin is an offense before Him, God cannot save a soul without first making a way to satisfy the claims that Divine righteousness makes against the sinner.

One of the dumber arguments often used by atheists to question the existence of God is the question of God’s omnipotence.  “If God can do anything, can He make a rock so big He can’t lift it?”  It is a stupid question but you’d be surprised how many people actually try to answer it. 

The atheist is trying to get the believer to admit that there are some things that even God can’t do. 

But the fact is, there are things that even God can’t do.  God cannot sin.  God cannot compromise justice.  God cannot abandon His holy nature.  And so, until Divine justice is satisfied, God’s infinite love cannot realize its desire.

Mercy and love are what grace are not.  Grace is what God is free to do on behalf of the lost after Christ satisfied the judicial requirements by paying the penalty for sin.

Although the holy demands of justice were satisfied by the sacrificial execution of Christ, the love of God can never be satisfied until He has done all that He can for the one that accepts Christ’s judgment on their behalf.

What is the greatest thing that God could do for you, a sinner?  How about elevating you to be conformed to the image of the Son of God?

Love and mercy represent the whys of salvation, but not the how.  

Since grace only represents what God can and will do for those who trust in His Savior, it must function independently of all human effort or cooperation.  Grace demands nothing beyond confidence in God’s ability to save.

Grace provides the only mechanism whereby men can be saved God’s mercy and love are not enough. God’s mercy and love were every bit as much in operation before I was saved as after.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

This is the second most difficult part of the salvation process.   If I’ve been pardoned, why do I still feel guilty?   You can tell me I’m no longer guilty all day long, but I was with me. I know better.  And I’m not much at self-deception.

I was guilty of sin before I was saved.  Some of those sins haunt me still.  And if I remain on this earth, I will be guilty of sin again. 

The guilt is real.  I know it.  So does the enemy – it is one of his most effective weapons against believers.

“Maybe you’re saved by grace, but you’re guilty. You don’t deserve salvation.” 

What makes it so effective is that it is true. Sin is rebellion against God and His authority.  Jesus may have paid for my sins at Calvary, but He wasn’t guilty of them.  I was. 

The Divine disposition of guilt is one of the greatest triumphs of grace. Note that there are two aspects to the concept of ‘guilt’.

The first aspect is personal guilt.  Personal guilt is nothing more than the historical record of your sins.  You committed them alone.  That fact will never change.   Not here and now.  Not in the hereafter.

You are personally guilty.  God didn’t make you do it.  Satan didn’t make you do it. You alone are guilty.  Personal guilt is non-transferable.  That’s why you still feel guilty even though you know that you are saved.

The second aspect is that of judicial guilt.  This is guilt as an obligation to justice. Judicial guilt is transferable – one can be personally guilty but if someone else pays the penalty due, then the law has no further claim.

The Lord Jesus offered Himself as a substitute to bear the obligation demanded of the world by Divine justice.   We need only acknowledge and stand before God under the terms of His provision of grace.

It is by faith that I recognize my judicial guilt and by faith accept that my salvation is by grace, a gift of God and not of works, lest any should boast.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, hisfaith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:5)

That is what our faith is in – not our ability to stay saved, but His ability to keep us — by His grace.

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
The Father He spake, and His will it was done;
Great price of my pardon, His own precious Son;
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

Your sins ARE all pardoned.  Your guilt IS all gone.  It cannot work any other way.

Maranatha!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 22, 2010

”Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”

”Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”
Vol: 30 Issue: 26 Tuesday, December 26, 2017

In its most common definition, an ‘evangelist’ is a ‘tent preacher’ — a person who travels from place to place, holding tent meetings and giving the Gospel to the lost.

The most celebrated evangelist of our time, hands down, would be Billy Graham. However, there’s no tent big enough for Billy Graham, whose evangelistic crusades tend to pack baseball and football stadiums, rather than tents.

The word “evangelist” is a Greek compound word; ‘eu’ meaning ‘good’ and ‘angelos’ meaning ‘messenger’, or “one who is sent to announce, teach or perform [anything].” It is the word “angelos” from which we derive our word ‘angel’.

The idea conveyed by the Greek compound word is that of proclaiming a good message, or good news. In the KJV, the verb evangelizo is translated “preach,” “preach the gospel,” “bring good tidings,” “show the glad tidings,” “addressed with the gospel,” and “declared.”

Another Greek word pertinent to this topic is kerusso, which is variously translated by the KJV translators in the NT as ‘preach’, ‘preaching’, ‘published’ and ‘proclaimed’.

There are a number of different senses in which we understand the term ‘evangelist’.

Al Gore is often called an ‘evangelist of global warming,’ but applying that term to Gore is only half right.

Gore introduces himself by saying, “I’m Al Gore and I used to be the next president of the United States.” [That’s the good news].

But his topic is all bad news; “Global warming threatens to end human existence”.

It is also necessary, if one is to be considered an ‘evangelist’, that the news must be true.

So calling Al Gore an ‘evangelist of global warming’ is more tongue-in-cheek than accurate.

Assessment:

According to Scripture, an evangelist is one of a handful of Divinely-ordained church offices:

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. . .”

The Apostle Paul also gives the job description and goal of an evangelist:

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Paul charged Timothy with the job of ‘doing the work of an evangelist’ which included, “enduring afflictions” and being a watchman on the wall.

“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2nd Timothy 4:5)

D.T. Niles, who dedicated his life to doing the work of an evangelist in Sri Lanka, provided this beautiful word picture of what the work of a Christian evangelist REALLY is.

In an interview in, of all places, the New York Times back in 1986; he defined it as, “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”

An evangelist, then, is one who is a messenger of good news, and there is no better news than that Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for all sins for all mankind at the Cross.

My calling is that of an evangelist, but my mission is not so much to the lost as it is to the saved. My mission is aimed at the “perfecting (training) of the saints for the work of the ministry.”

In that sense, my mission is to train you for that work in your own, day-to-day evangelistic ministry.

I am just one man. I can only be at one place at one time, and can only reach out to a handful of people at any given moment. You, on the other hand, are everywhere at once.

You are in Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, South Africa, Melbourne, Australia, Auckland, New Zealand, Vancouver, Canada, and Lagos, Nigeria. Your reach far exceeds my grasp.

It is you, in your capacity AS you, that hears that seminal question being asked by every onewho sees man’s inhumanity to man: “What is this world coming to?”

My job is to ensure you are “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)

Each human being owes his own sin debt, and because of that debt, he cannot pay the sin debt for another. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is therefore perfect and completely logical.

The Lord Himself stepped out of eternity into space and time, took on the form of sinful man, lived the life God requires of each of us, and, having no sin debt of His own, was qualified to pay the sin debt for all mankind.

His death was excruciating, long and painful. Crucifixion was reserved by the Romans for only the most heinous crimes, and was considered so shameful that it could not be imposed on a Roman citizen.

It was a snapshot of how God views sin.

Through His manner of execution, Jesus was temporarily stripped of His heavenly citizenship, literally separated from God, becoming the embodiment of sin on our behalf.

From the Cross, Jesus looked up and cried out,

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34)

Of course, as God-man in the flesh, Jesus knew why, but by His Words, He conveyed to us the full measure of His sacrifice on our behalf. We are all separated from God by our sin.

To pay our sin debt, Jesus was also, for the first and last time in eternity past, present and future, separated from the Godhead as a sacrifice for our sin.

On the Cross, He was literally forsaken by the Father.

For the space of three hours, He was sin incarnate, alone and comfortless, as your sin and minewas heaped upon Him.

Matthew says that during those three hours, there was “darkness over all the land” as the sins of the world were charged to His account.

Allow yourself to think about that for a second. See if you can get your head around the concept. Try to imagine the scene.

Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, in His moment of supreme agony, looked to the Father, only to see that GOD HAD TURNED HIS BACK ON HIM!

For three agonizing hours, Jesus hung, alone and forsaken, temporarily stripped of His Heavenly citizenship as an offering for sin in which God Incarnate became sin incarnate.

Jesus suffered the agonies of sin on our behalf, before declaring, “It is finished.” John says at that moment, “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:29)

The word group translated, “It is finished” was “Tetelestai.” Like all words, it had both a specific meaning and a conventional application. It meant, ‘paid in full.’

It was the word that was written on a slave’s manumission papers. When a slave was freed by his master, he carried a document bearing the phrase ‘telestai’ which indicated his indentured status was forever remitted, and he was henceforth and forever a free man.

When a debtor finally paid off his debt, he received back his original loan agreement with the word ‘tetelestai’ printed at the bottom, meaning ‘paid in full.’ It was a quit claim that signified a lender no longer had a lien on the property put up as collateral.

Jesus didn’t pay your debt for sin up to the moment of salvation. He paid your sin debt in its entirety.

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE for ALL. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God . . . For by One offering He hath perfected FOREVER them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-12,14)

THAT is the “eu angelos” — the message of good news that each of us carries. That is the good news that was given for the ‘perfection of the saints for the work of the ministry.’

Each of us is an ‘evangelist’ in his or her own right. Each of us is REQUIRED to carry that message to the lost. Each of us is REQUIRED to be ‘ready to give the reason for the hope that is in you.

Some of us are called to teach it, others are called to share it.

According to Scripture, there are a finite number of believers who will accept the Gospel. (Romans 8:29)

It isn’t that God has condemned others to a Christ-less eternity.

It is simply that God, in His foreknowledge, already knows who will accept salvation and who will reject it. But everybody must have a chance.

To reject it, one must hear it. That is God’s plan. The work of the ministry can be boiled down into a single phrase; “Each one, tell one.”

“And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)

“Tetelestai!”

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 29, 2007

Winter Says ”Hi”

Winter Says ”Hi”
Vol: 30 Issue: 25 Monday, December 25, 2017

Since I came to Christ after having finished reading Hal Lindsey’s ”Late, Great Planet Earth” I came to Christ already hungering for His soon return. I knew many of the major doctrines of prophecy before I really had much of a handle on the basic doctrines of Christianity.

But of all the trends prophesied for the last days, the one I always had the most trouble picturing in my mind’s eye was the image of Christian persecution in the West. 

I’d heard about Christians being persecuted in faraway lands during the Communist era, but that, somehow, seemed normal — probably because all I knew of Communism was that it was godless and therefore, doomed to eventual collapse. 

I never doubted the eventual victory of the West, because I knew God was on our side. I grew up in a world where the government used to fund broadcast messages admonishing me to remember ‘to attend the church or synagogue of my choice’ this Sunday. THAT’S why I knew, even when I was young in my faith, that we would win over the Communists. 

How could a political system that regularly encouraged its citizens to worship the God of the Bible possibly be defeated by a system that imprisoned its own citizens for doing the same thing? 

The answer is obvious. There is only one superpower in the world today. 

But in recent years, the competition for that title has gotten serious. Russia is no longer a serious candidate, but both the godless United Nations and the post-Christian European Union think that they are. 

Under the spiritual principles that have governed my entire adult life, that would mean they can expect to meet the same fate as the Soviets. 

But America is also rapidly entering its own post-Christian era, voluntarily stepping out from under the umbrella of Divine protection that has made it the safest, wealthiest and most powerful nation the world had ever known. 

Type the phrase ‘Christian values’ into Google’s news search engine and most of the returns that come up are about efforts in America to stamp them out. 

Stuff like designating a Christmas tree as a ‘holiday tree’ or explaining why school districts that order all references to Christ be dropped from what are now called ‘holiday pageants’ is a good thing. 

A Christmas greeting card released by Planned Parenthood depicts a winter theme with snowflakes on the front above the words “Choice on Earth.” Inside, the message reads “Warmest wishes for a peaceful holiday season”. 

By replacing ‘peace’ with ‘choice’, the greeting card mocks the angelic proclamation of the Birth of Christ while linking abortion to the celebration of the birth of Christ. 

Education, the arts, entertainment, architecture, public monuments, and many other areas of society in which religion was once honored or deferred to, have become thoroughly secularized as the Christmas holiday itself. 

For the first time in American history, prominent individuals and established political movements, not to mention many movies and television programs, are openly atheistic and hostile to religion, seeking, in the name of liberal tolerance, to drive religion out of the public sphere altogether. 

Or, to be more specific, they seek to drive Christianity out of the public sphere. Non-Western religions such as Islam are welcomed with open arms. 

The only Christianity tolerated by these left-liberals is a desiccated Christianity that keeps up the external forms and formulae of the faith but no longer adheres seriously to any Christian beliefs that are distinct from those of liberalism. 

The Apostle Paul described it as ‘having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2nd Timothy 3:5)

Even conservative Christian leaders have given up the traditional idea of America as a basically Christian society and now subscribe to the liberal view of America as a level playing field where different beliefs, including non-Western beliefs, can strive for influence.

A Florida church advertises something called ‘open baptism’ . The church website also says, “Lack of ‘belief’ is not an obstacle to belonging or to participating at St. Christopher’s by-the-Sea.” 

And in the words of a Fargo, North Dakota, cathedral’s website: “Whoever you are and wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are always welcome at the table of the Lord.”

A recent Boston Globe Christmas editorial complained: 

“The Christian agenda is one of exclusion. They want to take away our rights, not protect them. The constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage would be the first amendment enacted to take away rights from the people, not bestow or protect their rights. It is anathema to the spirit of the Constitution and our core beliefs as Americans.” 

An article in San Diego’s North County Times opined; “There is no denying that the Christian religion was intertwined with government in our early days but that is not a reason to rejoice, because that very element brought out some of the worst features in our history.”

The Boy Scouts are under constant legal attack because they require their members to express a belief in God. Thanks to their unwillingess to boot God out of their charter, most Boy Scout troops have been booted out of the mainstream. 

Not only is it unfashionable to be a Christian in mainstream America, in some cases, it might actually be illegal. 

This year, Christmas is special because it is the last Christmas America will celebrate under a Christian administration for at least the next four years. We remain free to celebrate the birth of our Savior this year, and we needn’t yet pretend that December 25th is the day winter sets aside to say “Hi!” (Season’s Greetings.) 

It is my prayer that you all have a safe, peaceful and exceptionally merry Christmas this year. May our God richly bless each of you, your families and your loved ones. 

Merry Christmas!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 24, 2008

Featured Commentary: The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown ~Pete Garcia

The Most Ironic Story Ever Told

The Most Ironic Story Ever Told
Vol: 30 Issue: 23 Saturday, December 23, 2017

The story of the Virgin Birth, sinless life and blameless death of Jesus Christ, an itinerant Jewish preacher from the Judean village of Nazareth is often and rightly called “the Greatest Story Ever Told.”

What makes it great is its theme.  A Child born to a young Jewish virgin and (as was supposed) a Jewish laborer of low estate Whose birth is announced by angels.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

The Child is the Son of God, come to bear the sins of the world.  He grows to maturity, living low as a laborer in Nazareth until He is called to ministry during His baptism in the Jordan by His cousin John.  

Jesus preaches repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.  He teaches love of God and to love one’s neighbor.  He lives a blameless and perfect life, is condemned as the King of the Jews and crucified for the sins of the world.

Three days after His execution, He rises from the dead to announce that the hereditary penalty for sin imposed on all men since Adam had been paid.   In evidence, He offers His own Body, showing the nail scars and the side wound.

“This is the price paid on your behalf for sins.  Believe in Me, and Him that sent me, and thou shalt be saved.”  

THAT is why it is the greatest story ever told.  But what makes it ironic is the WAY that it is told – as a Christian story.  The story actually begins way back in the Book of Genesis.   

Abram was the son of an idol maker named Terah who lived in the great city of Ur in modern-day Iraq. The Bible relates that Abram was called by God to a new land that God would show him. 

By faith Abram undertook the journey.Genesis 15:6 says;

 “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

But Abram wanted a guarantee, nonetheless. 

“And he [Abram] said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Genesis 15:8) 

It was then that God proposed a blood covenant after the manner of the Chaldeans

“And He [God] said unto him, [Abram] Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 

Abram knew what to do next, since this was something he was familiar with.

“And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.”

The blood covenant worked this way. The animals were slaughtered and cut up. The pieces were intermingled and then carefully arranged to form a kind of aisle through which the two parties to the covenant would walk together, hands joined. 

The principle of a blood covenant, and the symbolism of the animal parts was clearly understood to Abram. Whoever broke the covenant would end up like those piles of animals.

A blood covenant was, by common custom, a joining of 2 or more persons, families, clans, tribes, or nations, where the participants agree to do or refrain from doing certain acts.

What God proposed was a patriarchal covenant. The patriarchal form of covenant is a self-imposed obligation of a superior party, to the benefit of an inferior party.  Something like adoption by agreement.

In this form, the terms the parties use to refer to each other are: father and son.  And God’s proposal included not only Abram, but extended to Abram’s seed forever.  Abram’s seed, as we learn in Galatians 3:29, are the Jews and Christians that are “heirs according to the Promise.” 

What promise?  The one made by God to Abram and to his heirs and guaranteed by a Chaldean blood covenant.  

Abram waited, driving away the carrion eaters from his grisly creation, waiting for God Himself to come down, join hands with Abram and together, they would swear a blood oath. God would be the Father of Abram and his descendents, who would then be required behave as sons of the covenant.

Genesis 15:12 records that as Abram waited for God, a deep sleep fell upon him. During that deep sleep,

“it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Genesis 15:17-18)

Abram didn’t join with God in passing through the aisle.  The Bible says that God took TWO forms that Abram saw as a “smoking furnace” and “a burning lamp” to symbolize that the covenant was “signed” the requisite two times – but both times by God.

By passing through the aisle alone, God signed the contract — alone — for both sides, binding Himself to keeping both parts. 

And THIS is where the Christmas story begins.  Of the covenant that God signed on behalf of Abraham, Paul explains,

“Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.” (Galatians 3:15)

The covenant could only be confirmed when the price demanded for its violation was paid in full.

When the Law was given to Moses four centuries later, it was assumed by the Jews that to break it was to break the Abrahamic Covenant, for which the penalty was death. Remember, somebody had to die.

But God signed on behalf of Abraham, and Paul pointed out the blood penalty required of the covenant was paid in full.

“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.”

The covenant demanded satisfactory payment for its violation and no one guilty of violating it was qualified to stand in full payment except those that signed it.  The penalty for its violation was death. 

Justice required that someone keep the provisions of the original covenant and be a true Son as it demanded.

So Abraham could not pay the penalty on behalf of his seed.   Abraham was already under penalty of death.  But somebody had to die for justice to be satisfied and the only signer was God.  

The terms of the Abrahamic covenant required God Himself to step out of eternity and into space and time where He could be subject to the death penalty justice demanded.   

Two thousand years after the first covenant, an angel announced that “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Unto WHO was born a Saviour?   Unto the Jews of Israel, first. And then to the Gentiles

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

That is what makes it the Most Ironic Story Ever Told.  Christmas is the most Jewish of all holy days.  It is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant whereby the terms demanded were satisfied. 

But to most observant Jews, Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates something to do with the Christian God.  

That is the irony of the story.  It is a day that celebrates the birth of a Jew from Nazareth, born unto them in the city of David, which is Christ the Lord.  

So this Christmas, pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And pray for His Chosen People that they will receive Him as their King.  And may our God richly bless you and yours, until He comes.

Shalom.  And Merry Christmas.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 24, 2010