Thorns in the Flesh

Thorns in the Flesh
Vol: 28 Issue: 24 Monday, September 24, 2018

The word ‘holy’ comes from a Greek word that means ‘separated’ — in this context, it means ‘separated’ from the world of sin. In context, Peter and Paul were therefore two of the twelve holiest men who ever lived.

They were Personally ‘separated’ from the world by Jesus Christ!  But neither went on to live a sinless life. Peter fell back into some legalistic Judaic practices and had to be publicly upbraided by Paul. (see Galatians 2: 11-21)

Paul approached the Lord three times, requesting the Lord remove a “thorn in his flesh,” a “messenger of Satan sent to buffet me” — complaining that this infirmity hindered his ability to minister effectively.

Paul wasn’t lying when he said he was chief among sinners back then.  And I am not lying when I say that I am chief among sinners today.  I don’t know every sinner.  But I’m the worst sinner that know.

Thus it is with each of us, if we are honest.  I may know of a Christian who commits more obvioussins than I do — but I cannot honestly name somebody who sins MORE than I do.

The only sins that I know others commit are the sins I actually see them commit.  I am with ME all the time.

I am with me when I get cut off in traffic.  I am with me when I think bad thoughts.  I am with me when I do things I wouldn’t do if I was with my pastor.

I am with me when I am uncaring for strangers, unkind to loved ones, unreasonable, unthankful, unholy, disobedient . . . the list goes on.

To be brutally honest, I don’t know ANYBODY who sins more than me.  (And if you are honest, I suspect you can probably say the same thing about you.)

Peter was called out and separated by Jesus Christ to serve the Gospel.  But Jesus did not drop him like a hot rock after Peter said, “I don’t know Him.”

Jesus called out Paul on the road to Damascus and separated by Jesus Christ to serve the Gospel.  He told Paul to stop worrying about his problems with the messenger of Satan.

“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. . .” (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

I was called out and separated by Jesus Christ one winter night in 1975 to serve the Gospel.  That is what salvation is all about — being separated for the Great Commission.

But it isn’t YOU that does the separating.  It is Jesus Christ.  If it is you that is the one doing the separating, then how would you go about it?

The answer would seem to be obvious.  You avoid places where sin is going on.  You stay away from people that might lead you into sin.

You surround yourself with other like-minded Christians and you separate yourself from the world.  That’s what Paul said to do.  Didn’t he?

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2nd Corinthians 6:14-15)

But clearly, that seems contradictory. When Jesus was criticized for mingling with sinners, He replied, “It isn’t the healthy that need a Physician.”

Assessment:

So what is Paul talking about?  Paul’s letter was addressed to the body of believers at Corinth who had fallen into all kinds of pagan practices.

He was speaking to the Corinthian church’s practice of mingling idol worship and depraved parties masquerading as the Lord’s Supper with some sins “such are are not even named among the Gentiles.”

Individual believers are, by virtue of their salvation, already called out and made separate (holy) and righteous (by imputation).  It is accomplished;

“Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

The New Covenant with the Church Age is not a corporate agreement between God and a specific people, but rather is individual relationship between Jesus Christ and just ONE person — you.

That is why God does NOT punish believers.  He chastises them.  And God does NOT visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.  The children have their own accounts to settle. Individually.

“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)

This is a good place to stop and examine the difference between chastisement (chastening) and punishment.

Chastisement is correction — parents correct their children by chastising them until they fall back into line.  The chastisement stops when the behavior is corrected.

Punishment is different.  It is retribution — punishment continues whether the offender changes his ways or not.  If you are serving a life sentence, changing your ways is nice, but it has no effect on the sentence.

I don’t know about you, but while I loved them all equally, all my children were different.  Although the rules were the same, it was necessary to set different boundaries with each one of them.

I had a different way of dealing with the kid who tried a puff off a cigarette (and didn’t like it) than I did with the kid who had a pack of butts hidden in his bedroom.

Same rules, same offense.  But it was a greater threat to one of them than it was the other and so one of them needed a firmer form of correction than the other.

Is God not as good a parent as you or I?

The Lord doesn’t have one set of rules for one Christian and a different set of rules for another. The rules are the same for us all.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:27)

Don’t let the enemy steal your victory.  Nobody is perfect except God and He made you the way you are for His glory and according to His purpose.

His strength is made perfect in weakness, the Lord told Paul.  Paul didn’t argue with the Lord and demand that God change Paul into the kind of Christian that Paul thought he ought to be.

Paul didn’t get mad at God for his afflictions.  Instead, Paul responded this way;

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So, you think you are weak and ineffective at your calling and unworthy of your salvation?  You think you are too big a sinner to be used of God?  Then you’re just the one He’s looking for.

Has He got a job for you!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 24, 2012

Featured Commentary: Where We Aren’t ~Pete Garcia

The Tablets of the Heart

The Tablets of the Heart
Vol: 28 Issue: 22 Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Mount of the Beatitudes stands near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee and is the most likely spot for Jesus to have preached the Sermon on the Mount. It isn’t an actual ‘mountain’ as we’d understand it, but rather a large hill.

The reason that this is believed to be the exact location of the Sermon is because of its incredible acoustics. Along the slope there is a meadow that has the shape of a shallow bowl.

The effect is really quite amazing, as I’ll demonstrate when we visit the Mount of the Beatitudes during our upcoming Israel tour. A person standing in the center of that bowl’s voice carries everywhere within the rim of that bowl as if it were an amplified stadium.

The last time I was there, Peter Lalonde had me hike down that slope to the middle and read the Sermon on the Mount aloud, so I can’t tell you how clearly my voice carried from personal experience. I can only tell you I wasn’t speaking any louder than I would have spoken in my living-room. 

Looking back up at our group, they were far enough away that I couldn’t clearly distinguish their faces. Many of those who were on that tour with us were in their 60’s and 70’s. But all of them said they could hear me as clearly as if I were standing beside them. 

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about that acoustical effect of that place is a sense of awe. To think not only that I was standing in the place where Jesus once stood, but also that I was standing in a place specifically designed by God for His use in giving one of the most important sermons of His earthly ministry. 

It is the place where Jesus stood when He proclaimed His mission statement:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

Jesus came to fulfill the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant and to fulfill the purpose of the Law. In Genesis 15 we read of the covenant agreement between Abraham and God.

“And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” (15:5-6)

But Abraham was a man of the Chaldees, a merchant from Ur, and business is business, so, where’s the contract?

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

Since Abraham WAS a Chaldean, the Lord instructed him to prepare a blood covenant according to the customs of the Chaldees.

“And He said unto him, 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. 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.” (15:9-10)

These animal parts were used to form a somewhat grisly aisle through which, by custom, the two parties to the covenant would walk hand in hand while reciting its terms. It was also an object lesson in what fate would befall the one who broke its terms. 

The Bible says that Abraham prepared the covenant and waited for God to come so they could seal the bargain together. Instead, Abraham had a vision. In it, God recited the terms of the covenant while passing through the aisle in the form of a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, in effect, signing the covenant on both sides. 

If the covenant was broken, somebody had to die, and God made Himself responsible for both parties. It was there on the slopes of that hill near the Sea of Galilee that Jesus explained that He came to fulfill the terms of THAT covenant — on behalf of Abraham’s seed. 

It was always God’s intent to write the law on the hearts of His people. In Deuteronomy 6:6 we read:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”

Jeremiah speaks of a day when this will become a reality: “‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD.

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people'” (Jeremiah 31:33).

The writing of the law on the heart is finally accomplished by the fulfillment of the Old Covenant at the Cross and the establishment of the New Covenant whereby believers are grafted onto the olive tree of Israel.

actually stood in the place where Jesus made that monumental announcement! It was awesome beyond description. 

Many Christians see the Beatitudes more as idealistic guidelines than reality. Others take the opposite view; that the Beatitudes form a list of do’s and don’t’s regarding salvation. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” If you want the kingdom of heaven, it seems, one must be poor in spirit. But what does “poor in spirit” mean to believers who see themselves as the “King’s Kids?” Seems a bit contradictory, but only until you remember that the purpose of the sermon is to write the law on men’s hearts. 

The prophet Micah writes:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

The ‘poor in spirit’ are those who recognize they are unworthy of entrance into heaven by virtue of their own sin nature, that there are no good works they can do to thereby purchase admission on their own, and that Jesus Christ paid the price of redemption on their behalf. 

If you are a Blood-bought believer, you’ve already acknowledged your spiritual poverty and your dependence upon God’s riches. This isn’t a goal that stands before you, its your present state of reality — together with the attending promise, “for theirs [yours] is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. ” Why would believers ‘mourn’? We’re saved, we’re joyful . . . we’re told to be joyful because of the certainty of spiritual comfort. Paul writes, “that you sorrow not, as others who have no hope”. 

Do you care about the lost? Why? And when one dies in his sins, do you not mourn? The Beatitudes are not a future goal to the Christian, but a state of present reality.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness — this one is a tough one for Western Christians. (Fortunately, believers are joint-heirs with Christ, so they inherit the universe.)

In context, however, “meekness” means to have a submissive heart. Jesus said,

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Meekness can best be described as “strength under control” which is the characteristic Jesus said would “inherit the earth.” Meekness is not something to be attained, it is the current state of those who trust that Jesus has everything under control.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Uh oh! How does one manage this while navigating this lost and sin-sick world? 

The pure in heart have holiness written on their hearts. There is a lot more involved here than the avoidance of sin. The heart is our center of being. 

Jesus describes it in Mark 7:21-23;

“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.”

But also from within springs that holy desire to pursue God and be like Him. To be ‘pure in heart’ is not to accomplish the impossible by living a perfect life — it is the desire to get back up again after we fall. The ‘pure in heart’ shall see God. To be pure in heart is not a goal to be attained — it is the present state of the believer. 

The Law of Moses was written on Mount Sinai on tablets of cold, hard stone. The Sermon on the Mount represents the place where God, now and forever, writes His laws on the tablet of the heart. 

“Tetelestai!”

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

The ‘Defeated’ Christian

The ‘Defeated’ Christian
Vol: 28 Issue: 21 Friday, September 21, 2018

You’ve all seen him. The defeated Christian. The guy who tries and tries, but after being saved for thirty years, he still hasn’t quit smoking. Instead, he hides his cigarettes before coming to church and won’t get too close when shaking your hand for fear you’ll smell the smoke on him.

Or the Christian who you know is saved, but he just can’t quite give up the bottle. Or the Christian who got saved, but doesn’t go to church, because he just doesn’t think he fits in with the rest of the crowd?

Or won’t go because he thinks that everybody at church is a big hypocrite? That defeated Christian who knows that even though he is saved, it just didn’t seem to ‘take’ like it seemed to with everybody else, so he’d just as soon not be reminded of it all the time by being around those to whom it did.

Especially since, if he were to mention it, somebody would point out it was either because of some unconfessed sin, or maybe they just weren’t all that sincere when they first accepted Christ.

Why is it that some Christians get saved, and immediately become a new creature, where others get saved, and look remarkably like the old one?

Don’t tell me you don’t know somebody like that. Maybe you even ARE somebody like that. And it’s hard . . . so hard to keep trying and trying when it seems to come so easy to everybody else. It’s enough to make anybody give up.

I’m going to leave the usual beaten path, now, to address an issue that comes up fairly regularly. Those of you who have no besetting sin, no secret sin in your heart that only you and God (and the enemy) know of, go make yourself a nice cup of coffee. The rest isn’t for you.

Now, for the honest readers . . . Why does God deliver some people from booze, cigarettes, pot . . . fill in your besetting sin here _______?

The answer? I don’t know. Disappointed? Don’t be. Sometimes He just doesn’t. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian. It doesn’t mean you aren’t saved. It doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. It only means you feel defeated. You still have that sin.

Now, how come you feel defeated? Is it your weakness? God’s? Haven’t you been to Him with this? How come it’s still an issue in your life? You KNOW God is real, or else you wouldn’t be subscribing to the Omega Letter. What’s WRONG WITH YOU?

Nothing.

Welcome to the Church of the Walking Wounded. That’s why so many people find fellowship on the internet they don’t find in church. No guilt. Nobody can see you sneaking that cigarette or that beer.

You come looking for God, and looking for that forgiveness you keep hearing about, but never find in church.

Instead, you learn that if you smoke, (or whatever) you are defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit and you must give that up first to find fellowship. Except you have been trying for years and just can’t quite make it.

You sit there in the pew, thinking about the cigarette you are going to have on the way home, and you feel ashamed, guilty. Why even go back to church? You hypocrite!

You are taught that God forgave you at the Cross, but now you are on your own. All these sins you now know about yourself are left for you to deal with on your own. Only NOW you know what they are.

So every time you sneak that cigarette, you feel guilty. “Fred got saved and within a week, he cut out smoking, he cut out drinking and he cut out cursing.”

(You think to yourself, “Sure. And for entertainment, Fred is cutting out paper dolls,” – but then there you go – you sinned again!)

This is a very difficult subject – I am approaching it with much fear and trepidation. There will immediately be those who will jump on me for preaching a license to sin. I am not. Before you jump on me, read it again first, please.

Sin is the disease of the human race. No human being is exempt from it. The Apostle Paul, speaking of sin, said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Creative hyperbole? Or do you believe every Word of God is true?

The Apostle Paul was, according to God’s Word, chief among sinners. He must have had a difficult time being chief among sinners and chief among the Apostles, but that’s what the Bible says.

It must have bothered him, like it bothers you. (Those not getting coffee right now) Knowing what is right, but succumbing to temptation to do the wrong thing. Over and over.

Paul writes, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Romans 7:14-15,17)

Maybe Paul isn’t speaking to you, but he is playing MY theme song. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:22,23)

Does this sound to you like a guy who was having an easy time of it? Why didn’t he just do what the pastor tells you? “Just take it to the Lord and He’ll take care of it.” 

Ever do that and then He didn’t? So you found some good reason why not, or instead just figured you weren’t worthy? Or maybe that He cared more about Fred the King of the Paper Dolls?

Paul wrote of, “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) Now, I’ve heard this verse exegeted many times. 

To listen to the theories, Paul must have fallen into a thorn BUSH. I’ve heard Paul had a speech impediment, that it was his failing eyesight, that he was unattractive to look at, even one argument that he had halitosis!

What does the Bible say Paul’s thorn in the flesh was? Everybody looks for something specific to make sense of the verse. They are looking for some physical flaw that Paul thought would hamper his effectiveness for God. In so doing, they miss the forest for the trees.

The Apostle Paul, the ‘chief among sinners’, specifically said that his thorn was a ‘messenger from Satan’ sent to ‘buffet’ him. Paul’s thorn was his SIN. that kept him from being ‘exalted above all measure.’ “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8)

Stay with me here and see the picture. Here’s poor Paul, knowing the task the Lord has set before him, knowing that he is ‘chief among sinners’ and knowing his weakness for whatever that sin might have been. 

So he takes it to Jesus, (just like you did) sincerely expecting Him to handle it for him, just like the pastor told you He would for you. 

“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (v.9)

The Bible says that we are sold unto sin. That it is our natural state. That the most unnatural thing a man could do is NOT sin. You are saved, you believe, yet you wrestle with your besetting sins. 

Every time you whip one down, a new one crops up that you have to deal with. It’s a never ending battle and you are losing. How can this be? 

How can you be sincere, be sincerely saved, and still battle with sins that don’t seem to bother other Christians? 

There is only one logical answer. It is so simple you are going to immediately say, “I knew that.” But you probably really didn’t. 

Jesus did it all. Really. ALL. The most simple of principles, yet most preaching is based on the deception that He didn’t. Instead, most are taught in principle, that Jesus got the ball rolling at the Cross, but now that you are saved, whether or not you fail or succeed in beating back your sin nature is up to you. 

Therefore, when constantly confronted with your sin and how bad it is, it is much easier to give up and not go face the weekly confrontation. You are defeated. 

Rather than being free, you are in bondage to your guilt. How many people do you know who went to the altar call on Sunday who weren’t guilt-ridden by Wednesday?

Salvation is either a gift of grace through faith or it is a product of faith plus good works. 

Moses had faith and good works. So did Abraham. So did David. But without the Savior, they would be dead in their sins. 

The bondage of sin to a Christian is the weight of the guilt of that sin that keeps him from seeking God’s face. Jesus set us free from the bondage of sin. Is this a license to sin? As Paul said, “God forbid.” 

“All things”, Paul said, “are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) Interesting word, ‘expedient’. Means, “Appropriate to a purpose.” 

The reality is, we are humans. Even after we become new creatures in Christ, we coinhabit the castle of flesh with the old man. 

You will have your battles, but your defeat only comes when you give up. Following Paul’s lamentations about his struggle with the flesh and the duality of man, Paul writes, beginning with Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” 

This verse also tends to get spiritualized out of context. I’ve heard it argued that if you sin, then you are walking after the flesh, rather than after the Spirit. 

I put it to you: Did you ever, since you were saved, commit a sin and not care, not feel any responsibility before God? Well, then, Who are you walking after? The irresponsible flesh? Or the living Spirit? 

It isn’t sin that defeats the Christian. 

It isn’t that you still haven’t quit smoking, or whatever else it might be that you think is defeating you. Sin is what humans do. Forgive is what God does. 

It’s GUILT that keeps you defeated, and keeps you from the Throne. It keeps you from telling people about Jesus. It keeps you beaten down. 

It is incumbent upon a Christian to try and live a more Christ-like life, but the dichotomy is that the Bible says it is impossible. 

If we COULD live a sin free life, then why was a Savior necessary? And what was Paul rambling on about when he talked about the ‘good that he would’ and so forth? 

If there were a formula that involved accepting Christ and THEN living a sinless life, then why did He need to go to the Cross at all? 

Why not just make the revised Ten Commandments read, ‘Accept Christ and don’t sin” and THEN you can go to heaven? The answer is obvious. Nobody would be there. 

We are living in the last days. There is no time to bandage the walking wounded, the battle has been joined. Every soldier is desperately needed on the line. 

A soldier on the line does his best, and that is all anyone can ask. Especially the One Who really KNOWS that you are doing the best you can. 

And He not only understands, He made you to a specific purpose, which is why all things were lawful to Paul, but not all things were expedient. 

What may appear as defeat to you from your vantage point in the action may actually be a tactical victory somewhere else up the line. Only our General knows, and He says, ‘Trust Me’. 

Take heart! Don’t let the fact you are a sinner steal your victory. The only prerequisite for being a Christian is that you must be a sinner first. God has a plan for your life, and He has somebody for you to talk to. 

That appointment is so important to God that He has arranged your whole life until now — just so you would be available to keep it when that appointment comes due. 

Will you be there to keep it? Or will you be licking your wounds in defeat off in a corner somewhere? We’re running out of time, and the enemy’s sole focus for your life is to keep you defeated and ineffective as the hours tick down to the Final Confrontation.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly theref
ore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The rest of you can come back from the kitchen now.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 14, 2003

Featured Commentary: On Dead Bodybuilders and Immortality ~Alf Cengia

The Land Nobody Wanted

The Land Nobody Wanted
Vol: 28 Issue: 20 Thursday, September 20, 2018

The land claimed by Israel is smaller than the state of Rhode Island. In comparison to the Arab Middle East, Israel is like a single piece of sod on a football field.

Carrying the analogy further, imagine that one team has to defend that single piece of sod from an opposing team that outnumbers them 650 to 1.

The other team, claiming unfair advantage, is demanding the single piece of sod be divided and half of it be awarded to them.

The referees agree, and penalize the defending team for refusing to concede half of its 1/6th of one percent of the field to the opposition [that outnumbers them 650 to one]. The crowd loudly boos the defenders.

That is roughly analogous to the rules of engagement under which the Middle East conflict is being played out.

The Arab side makes two concurrent claims; 1) Israel has no historical right to the land; and 2) Israel, by its existence, has dispossessed the indigenous Palestinian people, leaving them with nowhere to go.

Except for a few decades of Christian control during the Crusades era, the land claimed by Israel was under Islamic control for 1300 years. This is one of the principle arguments advanced in favor of the Palestinian claim that Israel has no historical right to the Land of Promise.

That argument is bolstered by the existence of an Arab mosque atop what the Jews claim as Temple Mount, a mosque that has graced Mount Moriah for some 1,350 years.

According to modern Islam, the mosque atop Mount Moriah is the third-holiest site in Islam. Recenty Islamic tradition says the al Aqsa Mosque marks the place where Mohammed ascended into heaven aboard a winged horse.

For that reason, it now ranks third in line behind Mecca and Medina as Islam’s holiest cities.

In ancient times, Israel sat atop the most strategic crossroads of the known world. One couldn’t get from Babylon to Egypt by chariot without passing through it.

Israel and Jerusalem have been fought over and conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, and finally, the British in 1917.

In each of its conquests, Jerusalem was strategic because of its strategic value as Israel’s God-given capital. From Nebuchadnezzar to Titus, each successive conqueror acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of the Jews.

When the region was conquered by Islam, taking Jerusalem was a strategic, rather than religious necessity. Whoever controlled the Jewish holy city controlled the remaining indigenous Jews.

The reconquest of Jerusalem became a holy religious duty only after the Crusaders claimed the city for Christianity. Since the city was holy to Judaism and holy to Christianity, it became holy to Islam, as well.

But ‘holy’ doesn’t mean the same thing to Islam as it does to Christians and Jews. To Christians or Jews, ‘holy’ means worthy of reverence, whereas to Islam, ‘holy’ means worthy of possession.

Under Islamic possession, Jerusalem was just another dusty city of the province of Southern Syria. In the four hundred years Jerusalem was under Ottoman rule until 1917, the city was never even a regional or provincial capital.

After the Ottoman Empire fell to the Allies in the First World War, British foreign secretary Lord Balfour put into writing Britain’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

When the League of Nations made Palestine a British mandate after the war, Lord Balfour’s declaration was assumed as part of the deal and the allied powers of the Great War all agreed. By 1935, there were more than 300,000 Jews in Palestine. Tel Aviv, founded in 1909, had 100,000 people.

In 1947 Britain, which had been handed the Palestine problem by the now-defunct League of Nations passed it on, with relief, to the newly born United Nations. The UN agreed to partition Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a neutral UN zone containing Jerusalem, a city sacred to three religions.

The Jews were thrilled, the Arabs adamantly opposed.

In late 1947 the plan was ratified by the UN, and the State of Israel proclaimed on May 14, 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled the country.

The the British pulled out completely, and most of the Arab world- Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, as well as Palestinians- immediately attacked in an attempt to destroy Israel.

By the time of armistice in 1949 Israel held three quarters of Palestine- twice as much land as the UN had proposed- Jordan had taken the land on the West Bank of the Jordan River, and Egypt had taken the Gaza Strip.

It is at this point in the story of the Middle East that history ends and the modern myth of the Middle East is born.

Assessment:

The modern myth is that at the end of the Israeli War of Independence, the indigenous ‘Palestinian’ people were dispossessed by Israel and left with nothing.

The historical fact is that, until the mid 1930’s, the term ‘Palestinian’ was a label applied to the Jews.

Until 1950, the name of the Jerusalem Post was THE PALESTINE POST; the journal of the Zionist Organization of America was NEW PALESTINE; Bank Leumi was the ANGLO-PALESTINE BANK; the Israel Electric Company was the PALESTINE ELECTRIC COMPANY; there was the PALESTINE FOUNDATION FUND and the PALESTINE PHILHARMONIC.

All these were Jewish organizations. In America, Zionist youngsters sang “PALESTINE, MY PALESTINE”, “PALESTINE SCOUT SONG” and “PALESTINE SPRING SONG”

In general, the terms ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’ referred to the region of Palestine as it was prior to 1948.

Thus “Palestinian Jew” and “Palestinian Arab” are straightforward expressions. “Palestine Post” and “Palestine Philharmonic” refer to these bodies as they existed in a place then known as Palestine.

The adoption of a Palestinian identity by the Arabs of Palestine is a recent phenomenon. Until the establishment of the State of Israel, and for another decade or so, the term ‘Palestinian’ applied exclusively to the Jews.

The claims of the Arab ‘Palestinians’ to be a separate people is an utter fiction. There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Arab Palestinians.

Arab Palestinians are indistinguishable from Jordanians (recent British inventions all), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.

Syria was created by the British and subsequently given to France as the French Mandate. The Syrians declared independence after the British left in 1946, two years before Israel did the same thing. Jordan was created by the British in 1921.

The same British government that created the modern Arab world in 1920 at the San Remo Conference in Italy — by decree — also created a Jewish homeland the same way at the same conference.

And the Jewish Palestine of the Balfour Declaration as confirmed at San Remo encompassed a much bigger chunk of ground than Israel claims today.

Until the Jews renewed their claim to the land of Palestine, nobody else wanted it. The Jews petitioned for statehood on the principle that Palestine was “a land without a people” and that the Jews were “a people without a land.”

Arab revisionist historians say that claim was ‘a myth.’ History and mathematics tell a different story — if anybody were interested in the facts, that is.

In 1948, there were about 735,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs in Palestine. There were about 716,000 Jews. Since the same land now supports a population of more than 12 million combined Arabs and Jews, the argument that the Arabs were ‘crowded out’ by the Jews makes no sense.

The ‘Palestinian refugees’ languishing in ‘refugee camps’ in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere, were not interned by Israel. They were interned by their own governments after those governments lost the war with Israel.

Those Jordanian citizens that lived in Jordan’s West Bank and the citizens of Egypt’s Gaza Strip (who, on May 30, 1967 were still Egyptians), became instant ‘Palestinians’ on June 7, 1967.

From the moment of its declaration of statehood, the Jews of Israel have lived under the constant threat of annihilation by the surrounding Arab states.

As Golda Meir observed during the Yom Kippur War, “the Arabs can fight, and lose, and come back to fight another day. Israel can only lose once.”

What makes this significant is that NONE of this is a secret. Knowing this, the entire world prefers the fictional account advanced by the Islamic world; that the Palestinians pre-existed the Jews, that the Jews stole ‘Palestinian land’ dispossessed its inhabitants and locked them away in refugee camps.

Remember the football field and the single square of sod analogy. To the world, dividing that single square of sod defended by a team outnumbered 650 to one that holds the rest of the football field is an example of ‘leveling the playing field’.

It is nothing short of madness. But it is a madness that seems to have infected the world at large. The Islamic version of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a monstrous lie being advanced in favor of a claim to land that nobody wanted until the Jews did.

In the midst of a global war on terror, the world is prepared to countenance an openly terrorist government ruling over a ‘people’ that do not exist, (a people whose only goal is the ANNIHILATION of another people whose history is THE most documented record of ancient times) based on the argument that the Jewish claim to Jerusalem is historically invalid.

That lie is so delusional that it boggles the mind. Yet it is the basic reason for a global war on terror that now threatens to spill over into an all-out war of civilizations.

Israel, by its very existence, is a stench in the nostrils of the secular world. It is a constant reminder of the existence and reality of God, and therefore, man’s accountability before Him. Paul explains it this way:

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. . .” (Romans 1:28)

The secular world’s war, blind anti-semitism so ingrained in its psyche it is blissfully unaware it even exists.

Any critically-thinking person can see the truth, yet the UN consistently finds the ‘anti-truth’ when it involves Israel. It is almost supernatural in its scope and breadth. In fact, scratch ‘almost’ from that last sentence.

It IS supernatural.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 11, 2006

Featured Commentary: THE END The Book Series ~J.L. Robb

Somebody’s Child

Somebody’s Child
Vol: 28 Issue: 19 Wednesday, September 19, 2018

There is no greater blessing in life than one’s children. In my children I see the imprint of my life.  Each of them has their own story, and each story is also part of my story.

Their triumphs are my triumphs; their defeats are as crushingly painful for me as they are for them.

I don’t re-live my life through my children; I live it more fully because of them.  

Through their children I vicariously experience the innocence of youth and the joy of learning – but this time around I get to skip the more painful lessons.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalms 127:3-5)

People are ‘funny’ about their children (in the way bears are ‘funny’ about their cubs) – it’s not a good idea to criticize someone to his parents.  They might have a laundry list of criticisms, but you’d better keep your thoughts to yourself.

Having once been one myself, I knew better than to think my children were always right – but they were always my children.  

I’ve never had to do it personally, but I know that if one of them were to commit a crime, I’d expect them to face justice – with me standing behind the best lawyer I could afford.

Jesus referred to His Apostles as ‘children’ throughout His ministry.  Elsewhere, the Bible refers to Christians as ‘children’ as in:

“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:36)

I did a word study on the various Greek words translated as ‘children’.   There are several different Greek words translated into English as ‘children’ that reveal a lot about how God sees us from His perspective.

Because there are children — and then there are your own children.  

The Greek word teknon means ‘a child’ (as produced, biological); teknion ‘means a darling infant, as in one’s own); huios means a ‘son’ literally, symbolically or figuratively, or a descendant; paidion, means ‘a toddler’ or ‘childling’ of either sex; and breiphos, meaning simply ‘an infant’ .

Let’s look at a few examples in context before going on.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children (teknonbiological, produced) of God: And if children (teknon,) then heirs (kleronomos,inheritors) of God, and joint-heirs (sugkleronomos co-heir, fellow heirs, heirs-in common) with Christ. . .” (Romans 8:16-17a)

“For ye are all the children (huios) of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

“And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, (teknion or darling, innocent infants) how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”  (Mark 10:24)

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, (paidion: childling) he shall not enter therein.” (Matthew 18:2)

“For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children (huios sons) of disobedience:” (Colossians 3:6)

Because there are YOUR teknion— and then there are everybody else’s huios

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

God views the ‘sons of disobedience’ as ‘sons’ (huios) – only they’re not His.  They are the devil’s offspring.  They are of his family.  They are of his house. 

By faith in Jesus Christ, one becomes a huios of God (Galatians 3:26) through adoption (huiothesia).

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, (huiothesia) whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children (huiothesia) by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Ephesians 1:5)

Huiothesia is a compound of two Greek words that mean ‘adopted son’ – a son by deliberate choice.   In the ancient world, a child by adoption was an unbreakable relationship – one could disown and disinherit a natural born son, but not an adopted son.

Adoption was a very serious business, and therefore adoption was a universally recognized expression of great love.   An adopted son is of the house of his adopted Father.  And the word “Abba” means the same thing in modern Israel as it did in Paul’s day.  

It means “Daddy.”

Assessment:

What did you do for your dad today so that he would still love you?  Did you call him up this morning?   Did you do anything lately that he ever told you not to do? 

What did you do today to make sure you didn’t get kicked out of your family?  How often do you worry about having to change your name because your Dad decided you weren’t good enough to be his son? 

Are you the perfect child in all respects?   Have you ever disappointed your Dad?  Did he kick you out of the house?   Did he tell you he never wanted to see you again?  Did he promise to kill you?  

Are you an adopted child of God?   Have you surrendered your life over to His care?  Did you ask Him to adopt you into His forever family?  

What did you do for God lately so that He would still love you?  What did you do today to make sure you don’t get kicked out of His forever family?  Have you ever disappointed God?  Are you a perfect Christian?

Do you really expect God to be less loving than your own Dad?  Do you really believe that God loves you less perfectly than you love own your less-than-perfect children?  What sin wouldyour child have to commit before you would disown him?

Now, what about your kid’s friends?  (Or yours, when you were a kid?)  Ever have somebody else’s kid behave so badly you didn’t want him back in your house?   Or didn’t want him playing with your kids?

Suppose you banned a kid from coming to your house for some misbehavior and he showed up at the door, demanding to be treated like one of the family.  So you ask him if he is sorry for committing the infraction that got him banned.

Not only is he not sorry,  he thinks you’re a jerk and your rules are stupid and he has no intention of comforming to them.   Would you let him in?   Why would anybody think that God is less sovereign over His heaven than you are over your kitchen?

Salvation is a spiritual transformation from one family to another — from the huios of disobedience to the teknion of Christ, the huiothesia of God and sugkleronomos with the Heir of God.

The Bible says that a Christian is a new creation of God, not merely a new and improved version of the old one. 

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

So, you don’t think you are worthy to be saved?  Don’t think you are good enough to go to heaven?  Worried that God will kick you out of His forever family for disappointing Him?  

Did you worry about your Dad doing that to you?   Ever think about doing that to your own kids?

Is your ability for unconditional love really THAT far superior to God’s?  Are you really thatmuch more forgiving, that much more understanding and that much more fair? 

Or are you trusting in yourself to keep you instead of trusting Him?

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

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 28, 2010

Featured Commentary: A God Big Enough to Believe In? ~Wendy Wippel

Heaven and a Billion Dollars

Heaven and a Billion Dollars
Vol: 28 Issue: 18 Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Bible has almost as much to say about heaven as it does about hell. What is heaven really like? Can we know on this side of eternity, or do we have to wait until we get our wings, cloud assignment and tub of cream cheese, first?

First, how many ‘heavens’ are there? The word ‘heaven’ has three meanings in Scripture.Genesis 1:6-8 calls the atmosphere surrounding the earth ‘heaven’.

Genesis 1:14-19 and Psalms 19:1 makes reference to outer space, the abode of the sun, moon and stars, as ‘heaven’.

And finally, heaven is the place where God has His Throne. It is from this ‘heaven’ that Jesus came to the earth.

“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)

It is the place to which Jesus ascended after His resurrection.

The Scriptures tell us that heaven is the home of the Living God and of angels too numerous to count.

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.” (Hebrews 12:22)

It is also the abode of the spirits of redeemed men.

“To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:23)

This heaven the Apostle Paul called the ‘third heaven’ (2nd Corinthians 12:2). The Bible tells us much about the characteristics of heaven, without ever once mentioning Philly Cream Cheese.

The part most people have the most trouble with is the holy nature of heaven. It is a place without sin or evil. While we like to imagine what that must be like, existence without sin or evil is so unimaginable to our carnal minds that it sounds boring.

Kraft Foods is running a series of commercials in which the boring existence of heaven is livened up a little bit with some Philly cream cheese for years now.

The commercial series is still running because it resonates in our thinking . . . what else IS there to do in heaven except sit on a cloud, play a harp, and pray for a little cream cheese to add some ‘sinful’ excitement to the place?

In truth, it is as impossible for the human mind to grasp existence without sin as it is for us to imagine a new prime color.

It is one reason that even some saved Christians are afraid to die, even if they only admit that fear to themselves. Sin and conflict is all we know, and existence without it, despite our abhorrence of it, doesn’t seem very interesting.

Heaven is a place of worship. The Book of the Revelation depicts heaven as a place of non-stop worship of God, and of the Lamb; by the twenty-four elders, by the four ‘beasts’ that surround God’s Throne, by the innumerable company of angels, and by the spirits of the redeemed.

If I dare to say so, even to the regenerated mind of this redeemed Christian, that sounds a little boring, too.

Heaven is also a place of unimaginable beauty. “Unimaginable” is a word that gets used a lot by we mortals to describe heaven. There’s a reason for that.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9)

Whether saved or lost, it is beyond the scope of human limitations to imagine what heaven is like.

But we know some concrete facts about heaven. We know, for example, that there are mansions there, prepared for us by Jesus Christ Himself;

“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

We know that there are rivers (Revelation 22:1); trees (22:2); horses (Revelation 19:14); heavenly odors and constant music (Psalms 45:8).

Heaven is a place devoid of unpleasantness; Revelation 21:4 tells us that in heaven, there is no sorrow, no pain, and no death.

Heaven, the Scriptures say, is a place where everybody attains their earthly goal of being just like Jesus.

“For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11)

In Heaven, we will recognize our loved ones and each other. Luke 10:20 tells us that our names are recorded in heaven and we will be known by our names.

Moses and Elijah were recognized by Peter even though he had never seen them before. (Matthew 17:3-4)

The rich man in hell that Jesus described in Luke 16:23 recognized and knew — by name — both Lazarus and Abraham. In heaven, we will have perfect recognition.

It is unreasonable to assume that I can recognize my friends and family now, here on earth, but once having reached heaven, I will know less than I do now.

The Scriptures promise I will know MORE, not less.

To my mind, heaven makes the same kind of picture that a billion dollars does. I know it exists, it know its a enormous number, but a billion dollars is not something that makes a picture in my mind.

It would take thirty-two years, working 24/7, just to COUNT a billion one dollar bills.

A billion dollars, even to a billionaire, gets lumped into the generic mental folder of ‘a lot’. We know what a billion dollars IS, in the abstract. But in practical terms, it’s more than you can imagine.

About the closest I can come to getting a practical mental image of heaven is by starting in reverse.

Many times in my mind’s eye, I return to the sand dunes along the beach, looking out at the Atlantic, listening the crashing of the surf, smelling the salt in the air, feeling the warm ocean breezes against my skin . . . it was to THIS place that God cast the devil and his angels as punishment for their rebellion.

The angels hate it here. The heavenly angels avoid it unless sent by God. The Scriptures say they are mystified by man’s love for the things of the world.

The fallen angels hate it — and us even more — because they were banished to the ‘cosmosdiabolicus’ — at the center of which is that beautiful ocean beach I love so much.

To the angels that have seen heaven, that beautiful white-sand beach, crashing surf, warm ocean breezes and the smell of the sea-salt in the air is the worst place God could have banished them to.

We cannot imagine heaven, but we can imagine the most heavenly place on earth. And we have the testimony of the angels that the most heavenly place on earth is a horrific wasteland by comparison with heaven.

And heaven is filled with the Presence of the Lord. That indescribable feeling that we have with our Savior during those fleeting moments when He makes his Presence known to us in prayer is a permanent condition in heaven.

That little ‘witness’ we sometimes feel (I think of it as a spiritual ‘hug’) will be replaced with a perfect sense of fellowship with the Lord that will go on for eternity.

We can’t picture heaven. But we can know it is there. And we can know that we will one day see it, with our own eyes.

The Book of Job is, chronologically, one of the oldest books of the Bible, and dates to the time of Abraham. Job lived before Moses received the Law, before Judaism had developed as a religious structure, before there were rabbis, interpreters or teachers.

Job lived before Judaism introduced the religious concept of the resurrection of the dead or the existence of either heaven or hell.

What Job knew was revealed to him by God Himself;

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see FOR MYSELF; and MINE eyes shall behold, and NOT ANOTHER; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27)

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Heaven is real. Hell is real. Salvation is real.

And so is judgment.

Note to Members: It is with great sorrow and regret that we inform you that we will be shutting down the Omega Letter website. Due to unfortunate circumstances beyond our control we will no longer be able to keep the Omega Letter going. Our thanks cannot adequately express how we really feel. We could not have done this without your prayers, support and generosity over these 17 wonderful years.  Jack’s mission was to equip the saints to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within them. I pray we have done so. 

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 10, 2008

Featured Commentary: Giving Glory to God ~Steve Schmutzer

The Crown of Righteousness

The Crown of Righteousness
Vol: 28 Issue: 17 Monday, September 17, 2018

In many churches, those members who study Bible prophecy are relegated to the ‘lunatic fringe’ — politely — and sometimes not so politely — dismissed out-of-hand for wasting their time trying to divine the future.

Not so.  Christians that study prophecy are not trying to “divine the future” – they are earning the “Crown of Righeousness” promised to all those that love His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

The Bible says that there are other rewards, or crowns, set aside for those that dedicate themselves to Christ in a number of different theological disciplines.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is the place where all of the deeds that individuals have done after they have become Christians are revealed and examined to determine whether they be good works or whether they be bad.

Let me emphasize that the word “bad” refers not to sin, but to deeds that are worthless according to His purpose.  Whether or not they were sin is irrelevant – all sin is forgiven at the Cross — but every deed has consequences.

The Bema Seat evaluation, therefore, is based upon whether the works that have been done are worthwhile or whether they are worthless.

The Greek word translated as the ‘judgment seat’ of Christ is the Greek word ‘bema‘.  During the Greek Olympics of Paul’s day, the judge would sit on the ‘Bema Seat’ situated along the finish line.  His judgment was to determine who won the gold, who won the silver, who won the bronze, who came in fourth, fifth, etc.

Note that the only ones judged at the Bema Seat are those who cross the finish line.

The Bema Seat is reserved for believers — those who successfully completed the ‘race’ and specifically to determine their running order and to award their prizes.  Unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne.

Scripture teaches that after these works are judged, rewards will be given if the works are worthy. There will be no rewards if the works were unworthy — but that is not the same thing as being condemned.   

“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:15)

Salvation is based on whether or not you trust that Jesus Christ made full payment for your sins, as He promised He would.  While we will stand before the Judge as judicially ‘righteous’ — that righteousness is Christ’s alone. 

But it is freely offered to whosoever will accept it by faith.

Once we stand before the Bema Seat, our rewards are determined — not our punishment.  Our punishment, although richly deserved, has already been borne by our Savior.  Now, we are judged according to our works on behalf of the kingdom.

There are those who argue, “You know, I don’t think we ought to talk about our rewards.  We ought to serve the Lord just because we love Him.”

I agree.  We ought to serve Him because we love Him, but we have every right and reason in the world to strive to warn our rewards.

Our rewards are based on our works – but not our salvation.

 Assessment:

“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” (2 Corinthians 3:14)

First, let’s look at the different crowns available to the believer.  There is the ‘incorruptible crown’ — what one might term a crown of self-denial. 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 teaches:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Not everybody will receive the crown of self-denial.  Each of us is gifted with certain strengths according to some predetermined purpose of God.  In other words, some things are harder for some than they are for others — according to God’s purposes — not our own.

We are judged according to how hard we try.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1st Corinthians 12:4-7)

There is also the Crown of Rejoicing — the ‘Soul Winner’s Crown’.

 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord.” Note that Paul is addressing people as a ‘crown’. He is saying to those whom Paul has led to Christ, “You are my joy now and you will be my crown by and by.” (Philippians 4:1)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”

Translated literally, it reads, “are not even you, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ when we stand before Him?”

“One of these days,” the Apostle says, “we are all going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, you Philippians, and you Thessalonians, are all going to be elements of my crown.”

It is difficult for us to think of people in terms of a crown, but Paul emphasizes that the Philippians and the Thessalonians, among others, are the crown which he expects as an award to him at the Judgment Seat of Christ.”

James 1:12 identifies the ‘Crown of Life’: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”

Notice the word “temptation.”  That is a broad word.  Sometimes it means a solicitation to evil–that is, you are tempted to commit murder, or you are tempted to commit adultery.  It is a solicitation to evil.  Sometimes it is a reference to a test that God permits you to go through as a kind of ‘refinement by fire’.

The Lord Himself also speaks of the Crown of Life reward, promising: “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

‘Faithful unto death’ is not a condition of salvation — salvation comes by grace through faith in the efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin at the Cross.  Keep in mind that the only ones that will stand before the Bema Seat are ALREADY saved by grace.

The Crown of Endurance won’t be given to every believer — the Scriptures say of even those who receive NO crowns, as previously noted, “he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.”

There is the Crown of Glory — the crown of the ‘undershepherd’ or the ‘pastor’s crown’.

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1st Peter 5:1-4)

Not every pastor or undershepherd will receive this crown, either. There are those who will fail the test of ‘willing service’ or those who set themselves up as ‘lords over God’s heritage’ instead of being examples to their flocks, or those who fail to feed their charges with God’s Word.

Finally, there is the Crown of Righteousness.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 1:8)

Those who study prophecy, those who dedicate themselves as watchmen on the wall, ready to give the warning of His soon appearing, will receive the Crown of Righteousness from the Righteous Judge at the Bema Seat.

Literally, the Crown of Righteousness means ‘a crown for doing right.’ Paul is saying, “I have loved the appearing of the Lord.  Because I have loved the appearing of the Lord, I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith.”

Note what Paul did NOT say.  He did NOT say, “If you keep the faith, you will receive the Crown of Righteousness.”  Instead, he says, “If you love His appearing, you will.”

Personally, I am not certain that I will receive the crown of self denial.  I am not too sure that I keep my body under control enough to deserve this reward.

I am not too sure I will win the soulwinner’s crown, although it is one I really, really hope to earn.

I am not sure that I will get the Crown of Glory — as an undershepherd, I have many shortcomings.

I pray for the Crown of Life for enduring life’s trials — but I am not certain that I have endured them with the long-suffering love of Christ as I should.

So I am not sure about that one, either.

But I am hopeful of the Crown of Righteousness — it is the easiest one to get.  My righteousness is not my own, but that of Christ’s, and my love of His soon appearing is an all-consuming passion.

The point to it all is this: We will all one day stand before the Bema Seat — but the Bema Seat is where we are judged for our rewards.

Whether or not I receive all — or even any — of the rewards that are available to me as a believer, I have the certain assurance that, even if I suffer loss, I will still enter heaven, even if it is ‘as if by fire’.

And so will all those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation.

“Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s.”

“And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (2 Corinthians 3:22,23)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on July 1, 2011

Featured Commentary: Zero-Sum ~Pete Garcia

Do YOU Believe the Five-Day Forecast?

Do YOU Believe the Five-Day Forecast?
Vol: 28 Issue: 15 Saturday, September 15, 2018

Did you ever make plans that depended on the accuracy of a five-day weather forecast? Personally, I do it all the time, especially when making plans to break camp and get on the road.

I read the five-day forecast, and I anticipate the opposite. If it is supposed to be sunny and warm, we prepare a contingency route for bad weather. 

If the five-day forecast calls for bad weather somewhere along the way, we can be confident that our route will be the one place where the weather will be good. 

This is our second season on the road and the formula has so far proved to be just about fool-proof. 

For example, when the weather along Interstate 10 between Mobile, Alabama and Houston, according to the five-day forecast, called for intermittent thunderstorms, high winds and rain, we breathed a sigh of relief. 

The weather was beautiful, sunny and dry. The winds were negligible. The only exception was the night we camped in Beaumont. It rained really hard sometime after midnight, but it stopped before the sun came up the next morning. 

The storms we were supposed to meet head-on along the way turned north and swamped Dallas, instead.

It isn’t a fool-proof plan. Sometimes, the weather does what the five-day forecast predicts it will. But I stress the word ‘sometimes.’ 

How many times have you joked that what weather forecasters REALLY do is stick their hand out a window to see if its raining before they go on the air? There’s a local TV news station in New Bern, NC whose weather forecaster offers a “two degree guarantee” for that morning’s forecast. 

My friends (mostly commercial fishermen) and I get a big kick out of comparing the ‘guarantee’ to reality. The joke is that when they guarantee sunny and warm, that’s when you put a slicker and a sweater in your trunk. 

My adopted home town is an island on the southern end of NC’s Outer Banks that is prone to hurricanes. A few years back, Hurricane Isobel was forecast on September 11 to make landfall as a 165 mph Category Five (the most powerful on the scale) on Atlantic Beach. 

Gayle and I evacuated. Isabel made landfall fifty miles away in Dare County on September 18 as a 105 mph Category One. 

In 2005, the year of Rita, Katrina, etc., Hurricane Ophelia was forecast on September 9 to hit our coast as a Category Three. We decided to ride this one out. At the last minute on September 14, it turned north, striking a glancing blow as a weak Category One. Our house, situated four hundred feet from the Atlantic surf, suffered the loss of one shingle. 

Hurricane Katrina was forecast to make landfall in Florida as a Category One on August 23, before turning north and heading up the coast towards the Florida Panhandle. At the last minute, it shifted direction, headed out over the Gulf, where it was forecast to make landfall as a Category Five. 

Instead it made landfall as a Category Three near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana several hundred miles to the west of its forecast target. 

Weather forecasters take current atmospheric conditions at any given time and use supercomputers to calculate the most probable next step. But as anybody who lives along the southeast Atlantic coast can tell you, nobody knows where they will make landfall until they make landfall. 

Assessment:

Based on exactly the SAME supercomputer modeling that couldn’t predict 12 hours in advance whether Isabel would make landfall as a Category Five or a Category One within a “Cone of Probability” five hundred miles wide, one environmentalist group published an editorial predicting the death of Planet Earth in fifty years unless the human population is reduced to less than one billion people. 

Evidently, while five days is too long for accuracy, add another fifty years and you can bet your future on it. 

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, in an editorial entitled; “The Beginning of the End for Life as We Know it on Planet Earth” says mankind is a virus that needs to be eradicated. 

“We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion. We need to eliminate nationalism and tribalism and become Earthlings,” writes founder Paul Watson. 

“Who should have children? “he asks. “Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans.” 

He explains that, “Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach.” 

Of course, Paul Watson is a nut. But he is a nut with an audience of True Believers. Just like Al Gore, who is only slightly less radical, but with a bigger audience of True Believers. Recently, the San Antonio Express covered a speech Gore gave to a capacity crowd of True Believers who gathered to hear how buying ‘eco-credits’ (from him) will save the planet. 

The Express summarized the problem facing the planet, as Al Gore explains it: 

“Global warming is the heating of the Earth caused in large part by man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Most scientists agree such warming and the changing climate that comes with it will likely cause a number of problems and crises this century . . . [including] flooding and severe coastal erosion from rising seas and increasingly severe storms, more common and prolonged drought, and changes in the growing seasons and migration patterns of many wild species.”

See? If you read it in the newspaper, then it MUST be true. 

Actually, if the phrase ‘most scientists’ means ‘more than half’, then they don’t agree. Gore’s contention is that man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming. Six different Antarctic ice core studies, whose results were published in peer-reviewed scientific studies between 1999 and 2006, found exactly the opposite. 

The ice core data allowed researchers to examine multiple climate changes they say reaches back over the past 650,000 years. All six studies found atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations tracking closely with temperatures, but with CO2 lagging behind changes in temperature, rather than leading them. 

The time lag between temperatures moving up—or down—and carbon dioxide following ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand years.

Even a non-scientist, faced with those statistics, could only conclude that global warming causes increased greenhouse gases. You’d have to be a failed presidential candidate or an unbalanced eco-terrorist to conclude the opposite is true from the data presented. 

Greenland is the sixth-largest land mass on the face of the earth. Indeed, it accounts for one-quarter of the earth’s land-mass — except that 81% of it is currently covered by a “permanent” ice sheet. 

I always wondered how Greenland got its name. So I looked it up. It wasn’t difficult. 

Greenland was settled by Viking leader Erik the Red during what was called the Mediaeval Warm Period. They called it Greenland because most of it was green. The Vikings set up thriving farming communities that lasted for several hundred years before the onset of what is called “The Little Ice Age” around the beginning of the 14th century. 

Much is being made of the receding glaciers. What doesn’t get much attention is what the receding glaciers reveal hidden beneath. The remains of human settlements, bones, arrowheads, pottery, copper and silver mines, flora and fauna, even the perfectly preserved remains of human beings — some of them dating back only a few centuries. 

The “Iceman” found in a British Columbia glacier in 1999 was radiocarbon dated to about 1450 AD. Not only was his body perfectly preserved, so was his clothing. He died wearing little more than a light cloak and hat and thin leather moccasins. The food pouch he was carrying contained pieces of salmon. 

What does that mean? It means that the glaciers weren’t there 550 years ago. They melted during the Mediaeval Warming Period. There is no record of catastrophic sea level changes, submerging coastlines, etc. 

And it is unlikely that the industrial hydrocarbon pollution given off by humans in the years prior to AD 1000 were responsible for either the warming trend, or that buying carbon offsets brought on the Little Ice Age that followed.

Are you still with me? Global warming is real, in the sense that the earth’s temperature is rising at the moment. It began rising in the mid 1970’s. After the thirty-year cooling trend that began in the 1940’s that had 1970’s scientists warning of a coming Ice Age. 

This isn’t difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. All one need do is look it up. Al Gore could look it up. So could Paul Watson. So could the scientists on United Nations Panel on Climate Change. 

Heck, I looked it up. But, I don’t have an agenda. My career doesn’t dep
end on convincing people that the planet is warming. 

I didn’t found an environmental group. I don’t own a brokerage house that sells carbon offsets. I am not getting government research grants aimed at proving global warming is caused by American consumptive excesses. 

And I didn’t use them for research resources. I looked it up in an encyclopedia published before Al Gore turned the fear of global warmng into a multi-billion dollar industry. Then I consulted a reference book whose contents remained unrevised or unchanged since first published two thousand years ago. 

Two thousand years ago, BEFORE either the Mediaeval Warming Period OR the Little Ice Age, Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples to reveal the signs that would indicate the end of the Church Age and the impending return of Christ for His Church. 

Jesus replied, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

There is no historical record of global panic during the Mediaeval Warming Period. Neither is there a record of global panic during the Little Ice Age that followed. Jesus predicted the panic would occur during a single generation, somewhere in time. 

“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:32)

THIS generation. The Last Generation. Our generation.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 7, 2007

Is Hell a Literal Place?

Is Hell a Literal Place?
Vol: 28 Issue: 14 Friday, September 14, 2018

I received an email from a reader asking me, “Do you believe in a literal hell where people will burn and be tormented forever and ever or is this a temporary place where people will go through a purging and purifying process for their sins?”

My correspondent directed me to a website that argues there is no hell and attempts to ‘prove’ it by ‘disproving’ the passage of Scripture that most clearly explains it. The website, published by one L. Ray Smith, takes the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 and turns it into a parable.

Thus, as a parable, argues Mr. Smith, the passage does not teach of a literal hell. Instead, it is symbolism and allegory, he says. Then he goes on at length, ‘proving’ it is ‘just a parable’, and torturing various Scriptures from other places in order to make them fit his argument.

It is really quite convincing, until, at long last, you come to the end of the piece and realize what Smith says the ‘parable’ was all about.

He argues, “The real truth of this parable is not nearly as morbid as it may appear at first glance. God has a plan that eventually brings all the Jews and all the Gentiles to salvation. The very heart of the Gospel is the salvation of the Jews and Gentiles, the salvation of the WHOLE WORLD!”

Well, there you have it, then! You don’t need to be saved. You needn’t trust Jesus to save you, since He is going to anyway. The whole world is gonna be saved.

Hitler and Stalin aren’t going to spend eternity in hell — they are going to be in heaven — with their victims. Won’t that be pleasant? (Does that mean that Judas will be there, too?)

Smith makes his case by arguing that the Book of Revelation is a Book of ‘symbols’ and therefore worthless as an authority, since one can interpret symbols and allegory to mean whatever one chooses.

Smith also argues that God is not a Trinity of Three Persons and that the Rapture is a divisive theory deceiving millions.

In addition, Smith claims that only the Apostles were capable of ‘rightly dividing the Word of Truth’ and that ‘Death cannot prevent sinners from repenting’.

Smith’s theology requires allegorizing things such as, ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8) because one can’t have ‘faith’ after one is dead.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

If the dead can repent, it isn’t by faith. A lost person ‘waking up’ on the other side won’t NEED faith.

He’ll see for himself that God is real, and hell is real and his choice wouldn’t be made by faith, but rather certain knowledge. Given the choice between heaven and hell, knowing you are already dead in your sins, where would YOU choose?

Contrary to Mr. Smith’s ravings, hell is a real place, attested to more often and described more clearly in Scripture than heaven is.

Three times in Mark Chapter 9, in describing hell, Jesus said of it, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44,46,48)

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:43-44)

Is this ‘allegory’? A ‘symbol’? A ‘parable’?

Revisiting Smith’s ‘parable’ in Luke 16, we read the following: “There WAS a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores.” (16:19-20)

Note that He didn’t say, “Now learn the parable of a certain rich man” — He said, “There WAS a certain rich man.”

Having established the players, Jesus went on to say of the rich man, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” (16:23)

Note the rich man is in hell, but he can see Abraham and Lazarus ‘afar off’. The Bible teaches that those whose sins were covered by the “blood of bullocks” — the Old Testament ‘righteous dead’ went to Paradise — and not to heaven.

Jesus told the repentant thief on the Cross, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus explains that Paradise — or ‘Abraham’s bosom’ was located in the same place as hell, but separated into places of torment and places of comfort;

“And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:26)

At His Death, Jesus ‘descended into hell’ in order to liberate the righteous dead and take them to heaven;

“Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:8-10)

Once the righteous dead were taken to heaven, hell was expanded to make room.

Jesus tells us that hell is a place of fiery torment: “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:24)

There are several other things we learn from Jesus about hell, and about those who are condemned to it. First, the rich man has no name, whereas Lazarus is addressed by name throughout the passage. The rich man needs no name. Nobody will ever call it again.

He is eternally separated from God; to all intents and purposes, he is ‘dead’ to God, and to everyone who ever knew him. He is only alive to himself. But the rich man is cognizant of his life, how he ended up in hell, and those he left behind. His memories of his earthly life are intact:

“Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:22-28)

Jesus teaches us that those condemned to hell are; a) in fiery torment, b) are self-aware, c) are nameless and without hope of reprieve, d) are conscious of their situation, and, e) their memories of their earthly lives are intact.

The Book of the Revelation teaches that what we call ‘hell’ is more analogous to a county jail, where prisoners are held pending trial and conviction. Once a county jail inmate is convicted, he is transferred to a state penitentiary to serve out his sentence.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:13-14)

When John describes the judgment against the devil, he writes: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

Note two things. First, the beast and false prophet ‘are’ – present tense — in the lake of fire. They were not consumed. Secondly, it is a ‘lake of fire and brimstone’ and its inhabitants ‘shall be tormented day and night forever and ever’.

Of course, if the Book of the Revelaton were really ‘symbols’ and ‘allegory’ — as Mr. Smith teaches — then this passage is meaningless. So would the rest of the Bible be meaningless, if Mr. Smith is correct.

If this passage is allegorical, then maybe the part about “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never die” is ALSO allegory.

Heck, maybe the whole Bible is allegory.

The facts are these. If heaven is real, then hell is real. If God is real, then Satan is real. The Bible is not a theological smorgasbord where one can pick and choose what to put on their plates and choose to reject other parts as unpalatable. The same Bible that reveals the existence of God and heaven also reveals the existence of Satan, hell and the Lake of Fire.Despite the best efforts of false teachers to recreate God in their own image, hell is real, and was NOT created initially for man — it was prepared for Satan and the rebellious angels.

Man was created in God’s Image — that is, with an eternal component that can not die. That existence continues somewhere; either in heaven with God, or eternally separated from God.

There is no third option.

That is why God places such great emphasis on the Great Commission. God knows what hell is really like, and gave His Own Son as a substitute sacrifice so that we could escape its torments.

Every person you see today, whether they are bagging your groceries or changing the oil in your car — EVERY PERSON — has an eternal destiny.

They will either spend eternity in unspeakable joy in the presence of the Father in Heaven, or they will spend eternity in equally unspeakable torment, separated from the Father, and remembering the opportunity they squandered to escape their fate.

For those of us that know the truth, that is an awesome thing to contemplate. It rekindles a sense of urgency for the lost. We are the watchmen on the wall.

It is incumbent upon us to be prepared, “and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15)

The Omega Letter exists — not to preach to the lost — but to equip the saved with the knowledge they need to “stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)

The information in your Omega Letter is not for entertainment. We don’t sensationalize events to sell subscriptions. Our goal is to equip the one-on-one evangelist, to prepare you for such teachers and teachings as those presented by our Mr. L. Ray Smith.

We pray that Our Lord will continue to allow us to do so as the clock counts down to the end of the Church Age. Regardless of how false teachers try to frame things to suit, the Truth remains unspoiled.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2nd Timothy 3:16-17)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 30, 2007

Featured Commentary: A Heavenly Mind ~Alf Cengia

Friends of God

Friends of God
Vol: 28 Issue: 13 Thursday, September 13, 2018

All human beings, according to Scripture, are born with an eternal destiny. In the grand scheme of things, the main purpose of our earthly lives is to choose what that eternal destiny will be.

The Apostle James asks and answers the question;

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)

We can get some sense of perspective from our own human experience. We are created by God at conception, but spend nine months being prepared for life outside the womb.

We leave the comfort of the womb in terror; our first experience involves being grabbed by the head with a pair of salad spoons and yanked from our 98.6 degree environment into a sterile 68 degree delivery room, where we are promptly assaulted.

Shortly thereafter, silver nitrate is dropped into our eyes, we get poked, prodded, stuck with needles and get dropped into a basket where we find ourselves alone for the very first time in our brief existence.

(And you don’t even want to think about what is coming in a few days if you are a boy.)

But, given all of that, who would want to trade this life for a life spent floating in darkness inside the womb?

The baby on the way out doesn’t know what wonders await him on the other side, (but the doctor wielding the salad spoons does.) Still, the doctor only introduces the potential — what the baby does with that potential occupies his next seventy or eighty years.

Then the process starts all over again. Out come the Divine Salad Spoons, and we are dragged, kicking and screaming into the third and final phase of our existence — eternity.

Assessment:

The Bible is the God’s Owner’s Manual for human beings. It contains all the information necessary regarding humanity’s origins, care and feeding, rules for safe operation and guidelines for proper maintenance. It also explains our ultimate purpose — to be friends of God.

“Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:14-15)

Note that being a friend of God is conditional; whereas salvation is unconditional. Of friendship, Jesus said, “Ye are My friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Regarding salvation, Jesus said,

“I am the door: by Me if ANY man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

But of His friends, Jesus said,

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you.” (John 15:16)

Jesus is not extending His Hand of friendship to farmers. The command to ‘bear fruit’ that ‘should remain’ is a reminder that this life is, as James said, ‘even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, then vanisheth away.’

Each of us has an eternal destiny and each of us has the opportunity to choose where and how we will spend it.

We will either spend it in joy unspeakable in the Presence of God, or we will spend it in darkness, alone, separated from God for eternity, with only our memories, in the place Jesus described three times as being;

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44,46,48)

My eternal destiny was sealed when I accepted the gift of Pardon Jesus offers and trusted Him for my salvation.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

But what of my ‘fruit’ that is to ‘remain’, should I hope to be God’s ‘friend’ instead of just another servant. Note also that ‘grace’ is the extension of an unmerited gift, mercy and salvation are the gifts being extended.

But ‘friendship’ is something different. It is often observed that “we are stuck with family, but we choose our friends.”

Each of us, to be saved, chooses Christ. We become part of God’s ‘forever family’ as Hal likes to put it.

But Jesus says of His friends, ‘I have chosen you’. Not only that, but ORDAINED them to ‘bear fruit’ that ‘should remain’ after their own ‘vapour’ has dissipated from this earth.

Among His servants, Jesus has chosen and ordained certain of them to bear fruit, saying that those who accept His calling will be numbered among His friends.

There can be no question but that we are in the final countdown to the end of this present Age. The final war between the Lamb and the Dragon is poised to spill out into this reality during the Tribulation.

There is little time remaining for those of us who have accepted the call to take up our positions on the line. Not everybody is called to take positions in the front ranks, however.

Any army has many layers; warriors, support troops, cooks, supply clerks, ‘office pinkies’ etc.

In the Marines, I was a supply clerk, then later changed Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) to become an ‘office pinkie’ working in a data processing unit. But, like all Marines, I was, first and foremost, a combat rifleman.

Each of us may find ourselves in combat from time to time, if we are faithful, but that doesn’t make all of us frontline warriors. Some of us are more valuable in a supporting role.

An army’s effectiveness depends as much on its lines of supply as it does the fierceness of its warriors. (A Marine with an empty rifle would be a fierce warrior armed with an expensive, poorly designed club)

There are many ways the friends of God can lend support to those on the front lines of battle. Pray for us at the Omega Letter.

Seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. The time has come for those who would be friends of God to stand.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 6, 2005

Featured Commentary: Holy Cow ~J.L. Robb