The Historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Vol: 22 Issue: 31 Saturday, March 31, 2018

Today is the day that Christianity commemorates that singular event in human history — the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And as usual, in the weeks leading up to this day, the secular press corps has devoted gallons of ink and miles of column inches to its annual debunking of the ‘myth’ of Jesus’ resurrection. 

This is also when various churchmen go public with their doubts about this central tenet of Christian teaching, questioning whether it REALLY happened, suggesting that if not, it doesn’t really make any difference. 

In his book, “Jesus 2000”, for example, Dr. George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, makes this astounding statement: “Unlike the birth of Christ and the crucifixion,” he says, “Christians cannot know with the same certainty that He was resurrected.”

Writes the leading Anglican churchman; “I can tell you frankly that while we can be absolutely sure that Jesus lived and that He was crucified on the Cross, we cannot know that He was raised by God from the dead.”

Is he right? I mean, really. Is there a POSSIBILITY that the Resurrection is ‘unknowable’ apart from blind faith? 

In other words, COULD there have been a Jesus Who, in the words of secular historian Josephus, ‘did many amazing works’ before being judged a political criminal and executed by Crucifixion, but Who wasn’t literally resurrected? 

There is plenty of historical evidence attesting to an historical Jesus. Is it possible that He was a wise man, and a good teacher, or, as the Koran claims, even a prophet, but that the Resurrection was a legend tacked on later by His followers? 

Most Christians I know have admitted a momentary twinge of doubt at some point, wondering if it were at least POSSIBLE that guys like Archbishop Carey might be right. That the Resurrection, if not an outright hoax, was a sincere effort on behalf of His followers to keep His teachings in the spotlight after His shocking and early death? 

After all, it isn’t uncommon for the Jews to carefully record and revere the words of the great sages of history, like Maimondes or Ramban, the author of the Mishneh Torah. 

Archbishop Carey is wrong when he says that there is no way to know with certainty that He was resurrected. And it makes a BIG difference.

“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1st Corinthians 15:14) If Jesus Christ was not resurrected, then, by Paul’s own admission, our faith is in vain. Our faith is NOT in the fact Jesus lived and died. Everybody does that. 

Our faith is not in the fact Jesus was highly favored by God. So was David, Moses and Abraham. According to Isaiah, Lucifer was an ‘anointed angel’ ALSO once highly favored by God. 

We aren’t saved by believing that He existed, as Dr. Carey proposes. Our faith is that, in His resurrection, Jesus defeated the power of death and hell for us all. 

Despite the arguments from the skeptics and the God-haters, the Resurrection is as provable as is the existence of a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth Who ‘did many amazing works’. 

There is the evidence provided by hundreds of living witnesses. 

Consider the claim from the perspective of 1st century Jerusalem, a close-knit and articulate society:

A political criminal was convicted in a public trial and then executed in full view of thousands. That same convicted criminal was seen three days later; “by above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” (1st Corinthians 15:6

Jesus was well known in Jerusalem. There were those who loved Him, and many more who hated Him. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of the reports of a resurrected Jesus. 

Suppose I were to publish an account that said John Kennedy really died by slipping on a bar of soap in a bathtub in Boise, Idaho forty-one years ago. 

It would never fly. Too many living witnesses saw what took place in Dealey Plaza to avoid a firestorm of controversy. 

The Apostles preached and wrote of events that took place within the lifetime of their audiences. Think of how fantastic a claim the resurrection of Jesus truly is! If the record was not true, there would be evidence from the same period of accounts to the contrary. 

Writes E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University, “I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .”

In addition, the death of Jesus was a major event politically. As a consequence, so many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ’s tomb that the circumstances would be well publicized throughout the Jewish community. 

Jesus’ tomb was sealed with a Roman seal. The penalty for breaking it was crucifixion. The Apostles had proved themselves no heroes so far. All had abandoned Him and Peter denied Him three times. It is unlikely they would risk breaking a Roman seal to perpetuate a hoax.

When they found the empty tomb, the disciples didn’t fan out to the far reaches of the Empire with their story. They went straight back to Jerusalem. If their claim was false, it would be the last place to try and preach it. The story wouldn’t have lasted a single day in Jerusalem if the empty tomb were not already an established fact. 

In addition to the claims of the Apostles, both Roman and Jewish records of antiquity admit an empty tomb. Coming as it does from such hostile sources, it adds even greater weight to the historical evidence. 

The tomb was not just sealed with the seal of Rome, it was sealed with a two and a half ton boulder and guarded by Roman soldiers. If they WERE asleep (a death penalty offense) then somebody would have had to have quietly moved a 5,000 pound boulder without waking them. 

Inside the empty tomb were the grave clothes, still bearing the form of a body, but empty. That precludes any possibility that Jesus was entombed alive and that He somehow escaped. It also eliminates any possibility that His Body was stolen. In either case, the graveclothes would have to be unwrapped. 

Then there are the Apostles themselves to consider. Preaching a resurrected Jesus Christ meant social suicide. They were disowned by their families and their faith, were arrested, imprisoned and ultimately given the choice of a slow, painful execution or admitting they made it up. 

If they KNEW that their ‘preaching was in vain’ as Paul called it, then they knowingly threw away their lives for nothing. 

On the other hand, imagine if you KNEW Jesus they way that they did, saw the things that they saw, and stood watching at Pentecost as the Resurrected Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, and then were offered the choice to deny what you actually witnessed with your own senses. 

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His Majesty,” writes Peter. (2nd Peter 1:16

We can — and do — know for sure what escapes Archbishop Carey. 

Jesus Christ was executed at Golgotha in full view of thousands of witnesses. Three days later, He was resurrected bodily and over the course of the next forty days seen alive by thousands more witnesses. 

The story of His resurrection was unchallenged by living eyewitnesses, and so profoundly changed them that Saul of Tarsus, a Pharise
e who despised Christ and persecuted His followers, became the Apostle Paul, the greatest witness to the truth of the Resurrected Jesus. 

As Paul wrote to his disciple, Timothy, “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)

The skeptic’s arguments fall apart when weighed against the historical evidence. Jesus IS alive, and He IS coming again! Happy Resurrection Day!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 27, 2005

What’s So Good About ”Good Friday”?

What’s So Good About ”Good Friday”?
Vol: 22 Issue: 30 Friday, March 30, 2018

According to Christian tradition, the Friday before Easter is called ”Good Friday” because it is the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. GOOD Friday?

The Crucifixion most probably did not actually take place on a Friday, anyway. The Scriptures make reference only to the ‘Sabbath’ and there were two Sabbath days during that particular Passover week.

But it is on Friday that the world remembers, whether it wants to or not, that a Man was crucified on a hill called Golgotha outside the walls of Jerusalem for the sins of mankind.

If the world wants to remember it as a Friday, at least it is taking note of the event. Arguing about whether or not it actually took place on Wednesday or Thursday seems irrelevant to the central point.

Particularly in light of the way it remembers that day, as “Good” Friday. But what is so good about it?

I can recall as a kid growing up in a Catholic school thinking it more than a little strange that all those nuns said they loved Jesus, but celebrated the day of His execution as a “Good” day.

Indeed, as a kid, I thought the designation “Good Friday” was evidence that they really didn’t LIKE Him very much, despite their protestations of love. My mother had passed away when I was only ten. I didn’t think that the day that she died was a ‘good’ day for me.

There are lots of possible reasons why the day of Jesus’ Crucifixion is designated “Good” in English. One is that the word ‘good’ was derived from the word “God”.

Our word ‘goodbye’ came from the phrase “God be with you,” so, according to that line of thinking, “Good Friday” would have originated from the phrase “God’s Friday.”

But I think it is less a case of the metamorphosis of language than it is an apt description of the Event that took place on that day just before the Passover two thousand years ago.

The execution of Jesus Christ was an event of incredible evil. He was guilty of no infraction, violated no laws, either Mosaic or Roman civil, and His betrayal was orchestrated, the Bible says, by Satan himself.

“And after the sop Satan entered into him [Judas]. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:27)

But while the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was an act of unspeakable evil, it was a necessary part of God’s Plan for the redemption of our sin debt.

And the manner in which He accomplished was a demonstration of His Power over good and evil, using pure evil to bring about pure good.

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1st Corinthians 2:8)

But why was Good Friday necessary? We’ve gone over this before, but not in several years. Good Friday is the perfect day to revisit the topic. Why did Jesus have to die?

The Scripture says God’s Justice demands a sacrifice, but for most Christians contending with the skeptic, that answer is unsatisfactory.

The explanation that only a sinless man was qualified to take on the sins of the world makes sense, but it doesn’t answer the nuts-and-bolts question of why He had to die. Not fully.

The answer to the nuts-and-bolts legalities is found, not in the New Testament, but rather in the Old.

In Genesis Chapter 15, we find Abram questioning God’s promise that his seed will be numbered as the stars of heaven and that they would inherit the land to which God had led him.

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?” (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. A Chaldean himself, 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 rended 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. More specifically, God had proposed a patriarchal covenant.

The patriarchal form of covenant is a self-imposed obligation of a superior party, to the benefit of an inferior party. In this form, the terms the parties use to refer to each other are: father and son.

God’s proposal included not only Abram, but extended to Abram’s seed forever.

(Galatians 3:29 makes plain that Christians are also “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”)

To summarize, Abram has just prepared a blood covenant between himself and God in which his seed would forever be bound to God as heirs. To be an heir, under the implied terms of the covenant, also required being faithful to the Father. Abram understood those terms and waited for God to appear.

Consider the picture. 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 to keep that 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)

And there’s the key! While the covenant was between Abram and God, by passing through the aisle alone, God signed the contract — alone — for both sides, binding Himself to keeping both parts.

We know that Abram’s seed did NOT remain faithful to the covenant. And violating the blood covenant demanded that somebody had to die. That was what justice required.

The Apostle Paul was, before his conversion on the road to Damascus, a Pharisee, or a religous lawyer, one well qualified to explain the law of covenant oaths.

As Paul explains,

“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7)

Further, that,

“they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” (3:9)

And also,

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” (3:11)

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.” (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 since it was God Who signed on behalf of Abraham, Paul pointed out the blood penalty required of the covenant was paid in full on Good Friday.

“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.” (Galatians 3:17)

Why did Jesus have to die? Because the covenant demanded satisfactory payment for its violation, and no one who had broken that covenant was qualified to stand in payment except those who signed it. Abram was long dead. And, in any case, it was God Who signed on behalf of Abram (and his seed).

It is for that reason that God stepped out of eternity and into space and time in the Person of Jesus Christ. To keep the provisions of the original covenant and be a true Son of Abraham, as it demanded.

Once having kept its terms on behalf of sinful humanity, it was incumbent upon Him to make payment, as justice demanded, for its violation by those on whose behalf the covenant was signed.

To be torn and rended like the animals that formed the corridor through which God alone passed.

To make restitution on behalf of the seed of Abraham. You. Me. And everyone who ever broke its provision of faithfulness. All of us.

Jesus made that payment on our behalf. On the Cross, as He gave up the ghost, Jesus cried with a loud voice ‘it is finished’ (Tetelestai!) meaning, “paid in full.”

The terms of the violated Covenant were met, its price was paid by its Signer. God’s justice was fulfilled. That is why Jesus took on a human form and allowed Himself to be crucified by His own creation. That is the reason the Blood of Christ is so precious. Why nothing less would do.

Because justice demanded it. And because justice was satisfied, a lost sinner need only accept the Pardon obtained at the Cross as full payment for his sins to obtain eternal life. Because of Good Friday,

“Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord SHALL be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Our sin debt was paid in full on Good Friday. The only thing now separating God from man is human pride. Accepting by faith the pardon obtained for us at the Cross is a humbling experience.

We’ve noted in the past that God’s way is not our way, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Indeed, God’s way is usually the exact opposite of human thinking. Christians obtain victory by surrendering. We obtain eternal life through the Death of Christ, but to achieve eternal life one has to first die.

“Good” Friday is the day that commemorates the greatest evil ever perpetrated in the history of mankind. But as it turned out, it was the worst day possible for the forces of evil. It marked the first introduction of pure good to this old world since the Fall of Man.

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes WE are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Happy Easter season!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 6, 2007

Featured Commentary: Son of God and Son of Man ~Alf Cengia

The Lost Gospels

The Lost Gospels
Vol: 22 Issue: 29 Thursday, March 29, 2018

Let’s start a little differently. Who’s up for a quick Bible quiz? I know it’s early, but mental calisthenics help get the thought processes flowing.

Quick, if somebody preaches another Gospel, what does the Bible say about that preacher?

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)

Got it? Good. Now a follow-up question: If the person PREACHING another Gospel is accursed, should Christians be studying the ‘other Gospel’ on their own?

Or put another way; can there be anything spiritually edifying to be obtained from something that God Himself has declared to be ‘accursed?’

I’m sorry, is this hard? It seems pretty straightforward. The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that there is but one True Gospel and pronounced a rare Scriptural curse on those who would purvey another.

Despite Paul’s admonition, ‘Christian’ leaders are hailing the allegedly ‘lost’ Gospel of Judas as a ‘watershed breakthrough’ that ‘might change our understanding’ of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I set off ‘Christian’ and ‘watershed breakthrough’ in quotes because I doubt both. The most outspoken proponents of the Judas Gospel are professors of religion at major US universities.

Noted the New York Times’ account of the find,

“The Gospel of Judas is only one of many texts discovered in the last 65 years, including the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Philip, believed to be written by Gnostics.”

“As the findings have trickled down to churches and universities, they have produced a new generation of Christians who now regard the Bible not as the literal word of God, but as a product of historical and political forces that determined which texts should be included in the canon, and which edited out.”

The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot as the Lord’s most favored disciple and willing collaborator. The four Gospels say Judas betrayed Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver and later killed himself in remorse.

The Judas Gospel manuscript has been authenticated and carbon-dating says it is about 1700 years old. The authentication effort was organized by the National Geographic Society, which airs the documentary every year around Eastertime.

National Geographic quotes Rodolphe Kasser, whom it identifies as a ‘clergyman and former professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Geneva in Switzerland’.

“This lost gospel, providing information on Judas Iscariot —considered for 20 centuries and by hundreds of millions of believers as an antichrist of the worst kind —bears witness to something completely different from what was said [about Judas] in the Bible.”

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4)

The National Geographic describes the Judas Gospel in breathless terms, saying the “text not only offers an alternative view of the relationship between Jesus and Judas but also illustrates the diversity of opinion in the early Christian church.”

Assessment:

Great story. Not true, but  great story.  The ‘diversity of opinion in the early Christian church’ was hardly a secret. Neither was the Gospel of Judas.

The ‘Lost’ Gospel of Judas was composed by members of a Gnostic sect sometime around AD 180. It had already been thoroughly vetted by Iraenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, in his book Adversus Haereses (“Against Heresies”)

Iraenaeus, who published ‘Against Heresies’ in AD 180, dismissed it out of hand, saying of its Gnostic authors,

“They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.”

The Gospel of Judas opens with the words;

“The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover. … Jesus said to him, “Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal.”

(No wonder the Apostle Paul lamented, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” [Galatians 1:6]) 

What sets the True Gospels apart from the various alternative gospels is immediately apparent. The spurious Gnostic accounts all claim to offer a secret teaching.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene allegedly reveals secret teaching that Jesus showed Mary in a vision. The spurious Gospel of Thomas opens with the claim;

“These are the secret words which the living Jesus spoke, and Didymus Judas Thomas wrote them down.”

Iraenaeus insisted that Jesus did not teach any of His disciples secretly, and the Scripture’s Gospel accounts bear that out.

When His disciples came unto Him ‘privately’ to ask Him of the signs of His coming and of the end of the world, His reply was recorded in three separate Gospel accounts.

Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and teach what He taught them.

Iraenaeus wrote that “the heretics say that they have more gospels than there actually are; but really, they have no gospel that is not full of blasphemy.”

To suddenly embrace the Gospel of Judas in the 21st century as a ‘watershed’ that will ‘change our understanding’ of the Gospel while ignoring the perspective of Iraenaeus is nothing short of willful ignorance.

Iraenaeus lived within living memory of the Apostles themselves. The events described by the Gospels were as recent to Iraenaeus’ time as the First World War is to our generation.

There remained living links to the events of Jesus’ day in Iraenaeus’ time — and Iraenaeus dismissed the Gospel of Judas out of hand as a work of fiction.

To suggest that Judas will ‘reveal’ new insights into the Gospels to this generation that it didn’t reveal in Iraenaeus’ time is breathtakingly arrogant.

It is worth noting [again] that the ‘Gospel of Judas’ is mainstream news — [and so suddenly!] — because of Easter.

This is the time of year when Christians recall the true Gospel of Jesus Christ:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Every year at Easter, there is a major media push to mythologize Jesus, to discover some ‘new’ and ‘secret’ evidence that Jesus was not really God come in the flesh, but some kind of religious huckster who has pulled the wool over the eyes of generation after generation. . . until this one.

It is a source of endless fascination to me to watch it unfold each Easter season. Every generation, from that of Iraenaeus to this one, has attempted to ‘prove’ the Bible is wrong, the Gospels are a work of fiction, and that there is no God.

There is no literary work of history that has been more thoroughly vetted, debated, examined and subjected to the level of textual criticism than the Bible.

“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.” (2nd Timothy 3:7-9)

Every generation has raised its crop of skeptics determined to disprove the truth of Scripture. Each generation has had its share of thinkers shouting ‘Eureka’ — only to have their alleged ‘proof’ evaporate under the weight of new discovery.

Eighteen centuries after Iraenaeus’ evaluated and rejected the Gospel of Judas as a work of fiction, a new generation is shouting ‘Eureka’.

Every year at Easter, Jesus is suddenly discovered by the media to have been a fraud. Every year, being a Christian becomes a bit less fashionable, and, in some parts of the world, a bit more dangerous.

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2nd Timothy 3:12-13)

Despite the two thousand year constant assault on Scripture’s veracity, nobody has ever conclusively disproved a single word of Scripture.

Not a single point of science, medicine or history mentioned in Scripture has ever been contradicted by direct evidence.

Not a single thinker in all the generations of skeptics who ever shouted ‘Eureka’ in the last two thousand years ever became known to history as the man who disproved the Bible and destroyed the underpinnings of Judeo-Christianity.

And if such a person ever lived, we would certainly know of him.

Instead, on Easter, Christians talk about Jesus the Savior. The world talks about Jesus, the Myth.

Nobody seems to find anything of evidential value in the fact that, no matter what their perspective, whether their confession is positive or negative, EVERYBODY is talking about Jesus.

 “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 5,2012

For A Bowl of Pottage

For A Bowl of Pottage
Vol: 22 Issue: 28 Wednesday, March 28, 2018

“Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.” (Genesis 25:34)

Jacob and Esau were twins, but Esau was born first and therefore, as the eldest son, heir to his father’s holdings as a right of his birth.  Esau was a ‘cunning hunter’ the Scriptures say, while Jacob was a “plain man, dwelling in tents”. (25:27)

Esau, exhausted after a day of hunting, agreed to trade his birthright inheritance to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of red stew.

In my mind’s eye, I always pictured Esau as a kind of Harrison Ford character playing off Jacob’s Gene Wilder.

“And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”

His inheritance was yet future.  Esau lived in the now.  He was hungry now.  Jacob had something tangible that would address his immediate needs.  The future was only a promise.  You can’t eat a promise.

Four thousand years later, the descendants of Esau are still seething over it.  They blame Jacob for being tricky.  I don’t blame them.  The alternative explanation is that Esau was self-centered, greedy, and more than just a little bit stupid.

Nonetheless, God honors stupid.

“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1st Corinthians 14:38)

When Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, then Jacob’s it was.  The God of Israel is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not Abraham, Isaac and Esau.

For almost two years, Barack Hussein Obama has criss-crossed the nation, telling the voters precisely what an Obama administration would offer them.  Higher taxes.  More government regulation.  Surrender in the face of the enemy in Iraq.

Obama dared the mainstream to investigate his relationships with the Black Liberation Movement, the rabidly racist and anti-American Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the unrepentant founder of the terrorist Weather Underground, Syrian-born swindler Tony Rezko, his shady deals and shadier association.

The few that took up the challenge were unprepared to answer the charges of racism and found it much simpler to look the other way than find themselves victims of “do-you-still-beat-your-wife?” inquisitions.

That the media was complicit in keeping Obama’s secrets while raking through McCain-Palin’s trash is not even an open secret.  It is a celebrated reality.  (Chris Matthew’s leg must be enduring a thrill a minute right now.)

At one precinct in Ohio, two Black Panthers, one wielding a nightstick, ensured that voters knew who the right vote would be for.  Voter registration fraud, voter fraud, voter intimidation, broken promises and outright lies were irrelevant in the end.

In the end, the election was decided by college kids, first time voters and of course, Mickey Mouse.

This morning, Barack Husseiin Obama, an hitherto-unknown politician of questionable background that emerged from the old-style Chicago Democratic political machine twenty-one months ago is President-elect Barack Hussein Obama.

What God honors in men, He honors in nations.  And God honors stupid.

Assessment:

There is a famous bit of footage shot in early 1940 in Paris of its citizens lining the streets to watch the German troops parade through the Arch de Triumph.

As the camera pans the crowd, it lingers on the face of a middle-aged Parisian, tears streaming down in his cheeks, his face contorted in grief at the catastrophe that had befallen his nation.

The image of this grieving Parisian is brief; his is but one face among many lining the street that day, but his grief was so palpable and profound that it burns into the memory of the viewer.

As Barack Obama gave his victory speech to the country, I felt a lot like that Parisian of long-ago.

Let’s face it.  President-elect Barack Hussein Obama was not elected based on his legislative record.  Nobody knows what it is, even now.

He was not elected based on his exemplary personal history.  What we know of it is pretty bad stuff.

He wasn’t elected based on the depth of his experience or foreign policy acumen.  He doesn’t have any.

America just honored the legacy of Martin Luther King by coming full circle.  America just elected a candidate, not on the content of his character, but by the color of his skin.

Barack Hussein Obama was elected so that Americans could say the color barrier has been smashed.  Ok.  It’s smashed.  Now what?

Duh.  Nobody seems to have thought very far past “now what?”  Now that we’ve made history, what are we gonna do tomorrow? (Tomorrow??)

We just elected a far left lifelong Marxist/socialist president of the United States and handed complete control of the Congress to the Far Left Marxist Democrats.

To ‘fix’ an economy that they broke in order to get elected.

America has sold its position as a center-right nation for a bowl of pottage.  (Jacob was perhapstricky, but Esau was just plain stupid.)

America has handed over control of the Supreme Court to the most liberal president in American history at a time when America faces the greatest threat to its continued existence since the American Revolution.

Hal and I were talking a couple of weeks ago when it occurred to us that what Hal has been preaching for fifty years and I for thirty is upon us.  Indeed, while we were looking the other way, it has overtaken us.  This is what we were warning of.

But it arrived so surreptitiously we didn’t see it until it was here.

It’s going to take some time to analyze the full implications of the catastrophe that has befallen America.  I don’t want to sound like the Democrats who all promised to move to Canada if Bush won in 2000 and 2004.  (He did, they didn’t)

Barack Hussein Obama is the President-elect of the United States because God wanted Barack Hussein Obama — and no one else — to be president for the next four years. (eight years, sigh)

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Whatever God has planned for the next four years (eight years, sigh), He needs a mysterious, charismatic but inexperienced socialist dreamer with a Muslim education and spiritual ties to the god of this world to facilitate those ends.

Nobody else would do.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 5, 2008

Featured Commentary: The Red Cross: Revisited ~Wendy Wippel

”A Poem Lovely As a Tree”

”A Poem Lovely As a Tree”
Vol: 22 Issue: 27 Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I receive emails often from skeptics challenging me to one of those ridiculous verbal duels over whether or not God exists.  Such arguments are pointless.

In the first place, the skeptic doesn’t want me to convince him that God exists, he wants to convince me that He doesn’t.  I’ve never fully understood why anyone would want to advance a philosophy that offers nothing and takes everything.

Christianity offers eternal life — the skeptic offers the cold grave.  (“I think I’ll take “What is a stupid trade?” for five hundred, Alex!”)

In the second place, neither side can prove their argument empirically.  The skeptic cannot prove God does not exist.  He can only argue the reasons why he believes God does not exist.

But it is impossible to prove a negative.  Just because I can’t see God doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist.

(I can’t see my mother in law at the moment, either.  But believe me, she exists.)

I turned down the offer although I had the advantage over my would-be opponent.  While it is impossible to prove a negative, the contention that God does exist is a positive statement.

The argument against the existence of God rests on the absence of evidence acceptable to the skeptic — not the absence of evidence itself.  The evidence is overwhelming.  There is certainly more evidence arguing in favor of God than there is against, since, by definition, there is no evidence for a negative.

The Bible says that such an argument is the epitome of foolishness:

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalms 14:1)

The rules of philosophy and science concur.  One can only deny the existence of God based on the fatally-flawed assumption that because they cannot see Him, He does not exist.  That’s a pretty foolish foundation upon which to build one’s conclusions.

The furthest either science or philosophy can legitimately take it is the assumption that because they can’t see Him, He is not there.  Theoretically, He could be somewhere else.

The evidence for God is everywhere. The Apostle Paul writes:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

The Psalmist declared:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalms 19:1)

Look at the sublime precision of chemistry, for example.  All the elements combine in very precise mathematical ways to produce their various compounds.  Each of the elements are recorded on a valance chart — the precise number and weight of each atom can be counted and measured.

Every plant has a precise number of leaves or petals, arranged in a precise order.  Every living thing has a certain number of chromosomes in its cellular structure according to its design.  Man has twenty-three paired chromosomes.  A dog has thirty-nine.  An ape has twenty-four.

Poet Joyce Kilmer offered this eloquent argument in his poem, “Trees“:  “Poems are made by fools like me.  But only God can make a tree.”

Assessment:

If there is a more powerful argument for the existence of God than the Bible, I don’t know what it might be.  No skeptic can offer an adequate explanation for desert-dwelling Job’s description of the Arctic permafrost.

Who told him?  He didn’t look it up in a book and he sure didn’t go see it for himself. Who told Job that wind moves in circles and not in a straight line? Who told Isaiah the earth was round and suspended by nothing?

The Bible speaks to us in the two existing languages of sentience: the spoken word and the universal language of mathematics. (And this is the point where I usually lose patience with the skeptic.  The best rebuttal he can offer is “oh yeah?”)

Because words can be used to tell a lie.  That’s why God also wrote it out numerically.  Because numbers CAN’T lie.  And neither can God.

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One God.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

For God, the number one signifies Divine completion.  For human beings, it takes two to make man complete;

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for the labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

The number Three is the simplest compound unity — it is the first and simplest compound unit of mathematical science.  God is one God in Three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Three is the number of the Godhead.

Four signifies the number of this created world.  There are four seasons, winter, summer, spring and fall.  There are four points on a compass, north, south, east and west.

The living creatures (cherubim) of Ezekiel chapter 1 are four in number.  They each have four faces, four sides, four wings and move on four wheels, representative of God’s creation and providence.

Man has five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot.  We have five senses.  Added together we have ten fingers and ten toes.  The decimal system is based on this system of tens.

We think in tenths.  A tithe is ten percent.  No man could be consecrated as a priest under Jewish law unless he had all ten fingers and toes.  Five, doubled to ten, stands for human completion.

The number six is the number of man.  As we’ll see in a moment, the number seven is the sacred number of spiritual perfection, so six falls just short of it.  Man was created on the sixth day.  The Divinely-appointed work week is six days, with the seventh set aside for God.

Hebrew slaves were appointed to serve for six years before manumission.  Goliath had six fingers and six toes.  His spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron.  Goliath’s height is recorded as six cubits and a span.

Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide.  Jesus Christ was crucified on the sixth hour of the sixth day of the week.

And of course, there is the most famous six of all as recorded in Revelation 13:18:

“Here is wisdom. Let him that understandeth count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.” (666)

Six units six tens, six hundreds.  Three sixes, each successively higher on the decimal scale.  The number 666 represents the antichrist — the number of imperfect, spiritually incomplete man, multiplied 100 times over.

Then we come to the number seven.  The number seven is representative in Scripture of spiritual perfection.

Four is representative of the physical world.  Three, the representative of the Trinity.  Together, they equal seven.

Seven days make up one of the four quarters of the moon.  There are seven basic notes in music.  There are seven colors in the rainbow.  On the seventh day, God rested.

The number seven is the fourth prime number is also a Mersenne prime, the first Woodall prime, the fourth factorial prime, the second lucky and the second safe prime number.

A ladybug has seven spots.  Most mammalian necks have seven bones.  There are seven rows in the periodic table.  The neutral pH value between acidity and alkalinity is seven.  There are seven stars in the Big Dipper.  There are seven continents and seven seas.

The Book of the Revelation is addressed to the seven Churches of Asia Minor.  There are seven star representing the seven angels who represent the seven churches.  In Revelation 3:1, Jesus is identified as having the ‘Seven Spirits of God’ — or the whole and completed Spirit of God.

In Revelation 5:6, the Lamb is pictured as having seven eyes (representing omniscience) and seven horns(representing omnipotence).

There are seven seals, seven thunders, seven vials; the dragon has seven heads and seven crowns upon his heads.  There are seven mountains, seven kings, etc.

The Bible specifically says there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David; fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian captivity, and fourteen generations from the Babylonian exile to Christ. (Matthew 1:17)

Fourteen is seven doubled.  The Passover is on the fourteenth of Nisan, and fourteen lambs are offered on each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Pentecost is on the fiftieth day, after the passage of the full 49 (7×7) days from Passover.  The Jubilee Year is the fiftieth year after the passage of seven ‘weeks’ of seven years each.

Under OT Law, an animal must be at least seven days old before it can be sacrificed.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days.  A male child could not be circumcised until after seven full days had passed.

The rules of cleansing (as in cleansing a leper) involved seven sprinklings of water.

The Day of Atonement demands seven sprinklings of blood.

The menorah has seven branches and seven lights.  Noah entered the ark on the seventh day.  (Genesis 7:4,10) Noah’s ark came to rest on Mt Ararat on the seventh month.  (Genesis 8:4) Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel.

Joshua sent seven priests who marched around Jericho for seven days blowing seven trumpets.  On the seventh day, the circled the city seven times before the ‘walls came tumbling down.’

Samson’s marriage feast lasted seven days.  Samson had seven locks of hair (Judges 16:19)  It took Solomon seven years to build the Temple.  Job had seven sons.  His friends grieved in silence with him for seven days and seven nights.  Job offered seven bullocks and seven rams for a burnt offering.

Jesus told the Pharisees to forgive trespasses seventy times seven.  He imposed seven ‘woes’ on the Pharisees.  Romans 8:35 lists seven afflictions; 12:6-8 enumerates the seven gifts.  James 3:17 lists the seven qualities of heavenly wisdom.  2nd Peter 1:5-8 outlines the seven virtues imparted by faith.

The seventieth week of Daniel lasts for seven years.  The disciples took up seven baskets of fragments after the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.

The skeptic’s counter-argument is ‘coincidence’.  Or that some human or group of humans actually wrote the Bible using the two universal languages of sentience.  Either takes more faith in nothing than I am capable of mustering.

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14)

The skeptic knows that in his soul, too.  So there isn’t much point in debating it.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on July 22, 2009

Featured Commentrary: Pick a Pack of Proper Preppers ~Steve Schmutzer

A More Sure Word

A More Sure Word
Vol: 22 Issue: 26 Monday, March 26, 2018

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2nd Peter 1:16)

All the world’s large religions have their sacred texts; from Islam to Buddhism to Confucianism to the various Celtic and pagan religions. But among the world’s sacred texts, the Bible stands uniquely above them all.

That is no insignificant claim; Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘unique’ as “different from all others; having no like or equal.”

Muslims, Hindus, pagans and so on find that characterization of the Scriptures offensive, but indisputable.  There are books LIKE the Bible, but they aren’t ‘unique’ in the sense the Bible is, even among those who follow their teachings.

The Koran was composed from the oral teachings of Mohammed.  The Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith.  Confusicious was the author of the religion bearing his name, as was Buddha.

The Bible is made up of sixty-six separate books.  They were written over a period of 1600 years, roughly a span of forty generations.  The human authors of the books of the Bible came from every conceivable walk of life.

Moses was a political leader who was trained in the universities of Egypt.  Peter was a simple fisherman. Amos was a herdsman, while Joshua, a military general.

Nehemiah was a cup bearer to the king of Persia and Daniel, prime minister in the courts of Babylon.  Luke was a physician.  Solomon a philosopher-king.  Matthew was a tax collector,while Paul was a converted Pharisee who made tents for a living.

For perspective, consider this.  Imagine you could assemble your ten favorite writers and have each of them write a book on a single controversial subject.  Now, you pull the whole thing together, unedited, as the ‘definitive’ work on that particular topic.

Would the finished product, do you imagine, flow together as seamlessly as do the books of Scripture?  Would they be in harmony and without a single contradiction?  Would they be accurate in all possible areas and each progressively explain and expound upon the book that came before?

Remember, you are using your ten favorite writers, all living at the same time, all addressing only one topic.  The Bible is the product of 40 writers over 40 generations addressing every topic from science to medicine, from creation to the destruction of the world, from, as Norman Geisler once put it, “Paradise Lost in Genesis to Paradise Regained in Revelation.”

Moses wrote from the wilderness; Jeremiah from a dungeon. Daniel wrote from Nebuchadnezzar’s palace, Paul from within the walls of a Roman prison awaiting his execution.

John wrote from exile on the Island of Patmos when he was a very old man, while much of the old Testament was written on Israel’s battlefields by warriors and shepherds.

The Bible was written on three continents in three different languages; Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, yet it reads as if it flowed from a single pen.

It addresses thousands of controversial subjects, ranging from the origins of the universe and the natures of both God and man to the events that will take place in the last generation before the return of Christ.

And it does so in complete harmony.

Think of it! Now return, for a second, to your ten favorite authors analogy and look at them side by side.  No contest, right?

Assessment:

The Bible is unique in its survival against supernatural odds.  Though written on perishable material, it has been faithfully copied and recopied down through the ages, while its style, correctness, or existence did not diminish.

Manuscripts discovered at Qumran and known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls (including the complete Book of Isaiah), testify to the accuracy of the copyists.

Compared to other ancient writings, like those of Plato or Socrates, the manuscript evidence for the Bible is greater than for any ten pieces of classical literature combined, according to Josh McDowell’s ‘Evidence that Demands a Verdict’.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Bible is the best selling book of all time, with sales of 2.5 billion copies between 1815 and 1975.  By the end of the 19th century, the Bible had been translated into 337 languages.  There are at least portions of the Bible now in over 2,000 languages.

There have probably been as many copies of the Bible burned by dictators trying to suppress it as there were copies that survived.  In 303 AD, Diocletian attempted to exterminate the church and decreed that every manuscript of the Bible was to be seized and destroyed.  He had the words ‘extincto nomine Christianorum’ (“the name of the Christians having been destroyed”) put over the ashes of a copy of the Bible.

(In 328, Constantine ordered fifty copies of the Christian Scriptures prepared at Roman government expense.)

Voltaire, the famous French atheist, predicted that Christianity would be swept from existence and pass into history within 100 years of his time.  Voltaire died in 1778.

In a delicious irony of history, his house and printing press was eventually sold to the Geneva Bible Society — to print Bibles!

Unlike any of the other sacred texts of any religion, the Bible makes clear and precise prophecies concerning future events.  Not only does it make those prophecies, but it claims 100% accuracy, 100% of the time.

The Bible’s track record of fulfilled prophecy — up to and including the restoration of Israel in this generation — conforms to the Bible’s impossible standard of perfect accuracy.

In addition to being a book of prophecy, the Bible contains scientific, medical, historical and geographic knowledge that was impossible for anyone to know at the time.

The oldest book of Scripture, chronologically speaking, is the book of Job.  Job lived in the Middle East, probably in the area of southern Iraq.

Yet Job refers to the ‘frozen face of the deep’ and the ‘hoary frost'(38:30) as well as recording such scientific knowledge as the fact that light is in motion or that winds move in circular patterns instead of a straight line.

The speed of light and study of climatology are recent scientific disciplines.  And no science can explain Job’s knowledge of Arctic conditions from southern Iraq — centuries before Moses was inspired to write the Book of Genesis.

While sailors in Columbus’ day believed the world was flat, Isaiah referred to the Lord as ‘sitting on the circle of the earth’ 500 years before Christ. (Isaiah 40:22)

Unlike other sacred texts that portray their principle characters as men of extreme holiness, the Bible’s characters were anything but. Not only do all authors agree on the same subject, unlike any other great work, they are painfully frank about their shortcomings and failures.

From Adam and Eve blaming each other and the serpent for the Fall to Noah’s drunkeness to Lot’s incest to David’s adultery and murder, the Bible’s patriarchs and prophets are flawed human beings, just like us.

What makes the Bible unique among the sacred texts of the world’s religions is its Author.

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2nd Peter 1:21)

Because of its Divine Authorship, the Bible claims,

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)

We all know people who know nothing of Scripture that are more than willing to debate its intricacies and dispute its truths.  If you were to ask those same people to debate the relative merits of the Texas Penal Code provisions on disorderly conduct, they would probably decline because they never studied the Texas Penal Code.

But they will argue about ‘whether a loving God could send people to hell’ until the cows come home, misquoting Scriptures they can’t cite and denying truths before they hear them.

“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.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The evidence of its Authorship abounds, from its composition to its inerrancy to its unique standing among the world’s literature.

No one can be truly considered educated unless he is familiar with Scripture. And one truly familiar with Scripture could hardly be considered ignorant.

“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5)

“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)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 28, 2004

Featured Commentary: Leviathan ~Pete Garcia

Frustrating the Grace of God . . .

Frustrating the Grace of God . . .
Vol: 22 Issue: 24 Saturday, March 24, 2018

“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