Bio

Dr. Mike Halsey is the chancellor of Grace Biblical Seminary, a Bible teacher at the Hangar Bible Fellowship, the author of Truthspeak and his new book, The Gospel of Grace and Truth: A Theology of Grace from the Gospel of John," both available on Amazon.com. A copy of his book, Microbes in the Bloodstream of the Church, is also available as an E-book on Amazon.com. If you would like to a receive a copy of his weekly Bible studies and other articles of biblical teaching and application, you can do so by writing to Dr. Halsey at michaeldhalsey@bellsouth.net and requesting, "The Hangar Bible Fellowship Journal."

Comments may be addressed to michaeldhalsey@bellsouth.net.

If you would like to contribute to his ministry according to the principle of II Corinthians 9:7, you may do so by making your check out to Hangar Bible Fellowship and mailing it to 65 Teal Ct., Locust Grove, GA 30248. All donations are tax deductible.

Come visit the Hangar some Sunday at 10 AM at the above address. You'll be glad you did.

Other recommended grace-oriented websites are:

notbyworks.org
literaltruth.org
gracebiblicalseminary.org
duluthbible.org
clarityministries.org

Also:

Biblical Ministries, Inc.
C/O Dr. Richard Grubbs
P. O. Box 64582
Lubbock, TX 79464-4582

Friday, November 17, 2017

WHY THE INSANITY?

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10

Those 19 words explain the American mental landscape in 2017. As one author has said, "We're not on a slippery slope; we're at the bottom. There seems to be a national insanity, the loss of the ability to think, to analyze, to understand. I would present the following Exhibits A-O to prove my case:

EXHIBIT A: "Who's Britannica to tell me that the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say that it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American. Truth comes from your gut." Stephen Colbert

EXHIBIT B:
Our language has been corrupted: “Safe spaces” mean segregation. “Affirmative action” is synonymous with implicit racial quotas. “Theme houses” are race-based apartheid living quarters. “Trigger warnings” are censorship. “Student loans” are paramount to indentured servitude for over a decade. And “diversity” ensures monotony and orthodoxy in thought and expression. (Victor Davis Hanson)

EXHIBIT C: "It was a small sentence—”I will pray for you”— but it meant big trouble for Cony High School technician Toni Richardson. When Richardson offered that comfort to another Christian on staff in private, she was hauled before school officials and warned not to utter a word about her faith again. District officials kicked off the controversy last year by telling Richardson that she could “face discipline or dismissal in the future if she expressed her faith so openly again."(Tony Perkins)

EXHIBIT D: There is now something called"gender fluid." This is referring to a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender, and expresses a fluid or unfixed gender identity. One’s expression of identity is likely to shift and change depending on context.

EXHIBIT E: There is now such a thing as PGP, preferred gender pronoun, which is simply the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual. Under a new California law, those who work in health care who use the wrong gender pronoun when referring to a transgender patient could face prison time. (In June 2017, Canada passed a new law that opens Canadians up to fines and even jail time if they use gender pronouns that do not correspond to a person's subjectively determined "gender identity.")

EXHIBIT F: Graphic “sex education” is forced on kindergarteners. "The Chicago Public Schools this year are mandating that the district’s kindergarten classes include sex education, fulfilling a proposal President Barack Obama supported in 2003 when he served in the Illinois state senate and later defended when he ran for president in the 2008 election cycle" (8-30-2013)

EXHIBIT H: Homosexuality and transgender ideology are so pervasive and “acceptable” that such individuals touting their sexual preferences and perversions are given awards, accolades, and their own TV shows.

EXHIBIT I: Devin Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church with an assault rifle, authorities say he took 25 lives and that of an unborn child. Reports indicate that a large percentage of the total included babies and children.

EXHIBIT J: Heated debates arise over questions such as, "Should little girls avoid dressing up as Moana for Halloween if they aren't of Polynesian descent?"

EXHIBIT K: The acceptance of  Nietzsche's philosophy, "There are no facts, only interpretations."

EXHIBIT L: "A majority of Americans, including three-quarters of Millennials and nearly a third of practicing Christians, say that morality is based solely on their personal feelings, according to a new Barna survey that shows moral relativism has a firm grasp on many adults. In the poll of 1,237 people, 57 percent agreed that "whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know," while 74 percent of Millennials affirmed the statement and 31 percent of practicing Christians did so. (The Christian Examiner, quoting Barna)

EXHIBIT M: Our schools have come to resemble prisons--there's a law officer in the school to maintain order; students and their belongings pass through metal detectors before entry; students must secure permission to speak or to go to the restroom; they eat at prescribed times and only the  foods offered; they are under electronic surveillance, they are locked in the building. Any one wishing to enter must go through the secured doors and stand in front of an all-seeing camera for validation.

EXHIBIT N: At the University of New Hampshire, the word “American” is deemed offensive and should not be used. (Reason: There's another "America." South America, and they might be offended.

EXHIBIT N: An Idaho State University and College of the Canyons study declared that we must accept people who identify themselves as vampires.
EXHIBIT O: At Quinnipiac University, a sorority had to cancel a fundraiser for foster children because one student complained that having maracas on the promotional posters was racist.
WHY?

Why this insanity? The above reference to Proverbs 9:10 gives the reason. "The fear of the Lord" is a positive response to God and His Word. Without that response, there is no wisdom in the society.

On June 25, 1963, in a decision by the U. S. Supreme Court, the Bible became a banned book in all public schools. As Dr. Richard Grubbs has pointed out, "No God means no rules." The Book has been banned for over 50 years now, and we're living with the poison fruit of the decision. The problem is further compounded by what Romans 1 declares: God has turned us over to desires of our heart; that's what we want and that's what we've got.

As Dr. Grubbs points out, only a revival can stem the tide.


 






Friday, November 10, 2017

THE MASK IS COMING OFF

"The amount of anti-Christian hate on Twitter the same day Christians were massacred [at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX] is stunning and chilling." David French

The killing of 27 people, half of them children and babies, in a Baptist church demonstrates that the mask is coming off: there is a rising tide of hatred against Christians and Christianity in America. No longer hidden, it's open, bold, militant, strident, loud, emboldened, and confident.

The rising tide of atheism, paganism, and secularism have brought death threats to Christians as well as sentiments wishing for their deaths.The reasons for this hatred are illogical and need to be examined.

Michael L. Brown has categorized the reasons for the hatred:

1. Since evangelical Christians voted in a large percentage for candidate Trump, whatever he does, whatever he says, IS Christianity in the minds of millions. (This is the danger of prominent Christians allying themselves with candidates and political causes.) But, it could be argued that when millions of Christians voted in 2016, their votes were more against the other candidate than for Trump. The thinking of such voters was ABC reasoning, "Anybody But Clinton."

AN EXAMPLE

When asked by "Christianity Today" in 2011 if he would go back and do anything differently, Billy Graham, whose relationship with President Richard Nixon drew considerable controversy replied:
I also would have steered clear of politics. I'm grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back, I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now.
In 2012, Michael S. Hamilton, chair of the history department at Seattle Pacific University wrote:
"Billy Graham has long been a registered Democrat and has supported politicians on both sides of the aisle. In the 1980s and 1990s, he declined to embrace the Religious Right. The exposure of Richard Nixon's corruption made Graham wary of future involvement in political partisanship, and he privately warned leaders of the Religious Right to stay away from politics."

We need to be constantly reminded that the church's purpose is not to clean up the world; the world system is doomed. No matter who your candidate is, you need to heed Psalm 146:3.

BACK TO BROWN

2. Christians, Christian opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion draws the fury of the atheistic tide. They brand Christians as Nazis, fascists (without knowing the meaning of the word) and haters, They compare Christianity to ISIS, and charge Christians with wanting to impose a Mosaic Law theocracy on America. Irrational? Yes.

3. The hostility is the natural result of the poison of atheism. Rabbi David Wolpe posted a  suggestion in "The Huffington Post." Here's what he said about what he wrote and the reaction to it:

"How harmless is it to post an article about why people should read the bible (sic) on a site devoted to religion? I did on this very page, and it evoked more than 2,000 responses, most of them angry. I had previously written a similarly gentle article about how God should be taught to children that evoked more than 1,000 responses, almost all negative and many downright nasty.

"It is curious that a religion site draws responses mostly from atheists, and that the atheists are very unhappy. They are unhappy with the bible (sic) . . .  unhappy with the idea of God (the “imaginary dictator” whose task in human history, apparently, is to ensure that oppression and evil triumph) and very unhappy with anyone (read: me) who presumes to offer religious advice to the religious. Only the untutored assume that religious people predominate on websites."

4. There is a supernatural component to the hostility, all from the dark side of the universe. John summarizes this reason in John 1:5-11: the darkness hates the Light which has come into the world in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus' earthly life clashed head-on with the forces of darkness. As the psalmist predicted, "They hated ]Him] without a cause." Irrational. And as Jesus warned His followers, "If they have hated Me, they will hate you." The reaction of the rising tide evidenced a hatred, a deep down, ingrained, bitter hatred of Christians and Christianity.

A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Two thousand years ago, a somewhat parallel incident occurred when Herod took off his mask and slaughtered children and babies, as he unknowingly cooperated with the satanic side of the universe to prevent the cross.

NOW FOR THE POSITIVE

Michael Brown points out the positive biblical stance for the believer by citing II Peter 4:12-16; Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:21. A summary of those texts: 1) Don't be surprised by the hostility 2) rejoice 3) love your enemies 4) pray for your enemies 5) take the offensive, that is, overcome evil with good.

We might add another text to the list: II Timothy 2:24: "The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,"

I SAW THE CHAPTER AND VERSE

I was privileged to be in the audience when a grace-oriented Dallas Seminary professor was speaking to a group of pastors (and a reporter from the city's local newspaper) about the new book he had written to refute lordship salvation. The event was hosted by a local Christian bookstore which had invited the pastors.

After his presentation, the question and answer period began and, lo and behold, most in the room were hostile. The tone of their voices, their sarcasm, and their condescending attitude, in a addition to the questions themselves, showed their anger. Some were downright rude.

What's interesting is that I don't remember a single question or comment the pastors made. I don't remember a single answer the author gave to their questions. What I do remember is that the professor was the epitome of II Timothy 2:24.

Although under attack, every syllable in his response was kind and patient. He was gracious to everyone in the room. It was as if he was enjoying the entire session. He was.

Funny what we remember, isn't it? I went away from that meeting, having learned one of life's important lessons because I saw II Timothy 2:24.

The mask is coming off. 



Friday, November 3, 2017

DAN RATHER REPORTING

It's 1 PM CST in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. President John F. Kennedy has just been pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital after being assassinated by communist Lee Harvey Oswald.

The world is about to reel in shock when TV and radio stations make the news public. People in the streets will cry, Wall Street will shut down the New York Stock Exchange at 2:07 PM EST. For the next three days, and CBS, ABC, and NBC will cancel all commercials until Tuesday of the next week.

One more thing-- some schools dismissed the students for the day. And for those teachers, students, and parents in one particular school, in addition to the assassination, it would be a day they would never forget, all because of Dan Rather.

In Dallas, thirty-two year-old CBS news correspondent Dan Rather is reporting the events that are unfolding. One of the stories Rather is reporting to the nation is that when the principal of the University Park Elementary School in Dallas made the announcement over the loudspeaker that the President was dead, the children cheered.

Cheered? What kind of a city was Dallas where kids cheerrd the murder of a President? What was wrong with those people?

There was nothing wrong with those people, but there was something wrong with Dan Rather: the story wasn't true and he knew it. Eddie Barker, the news director of radio and TV CBS affiliates in Dallas had been approached by a liberal Methodist minister with the same story earlier in the day. Barker had three children in the school and contacted the principal and some of the teachers for verification.Each one adamantly denied it.

What had actually happened was that the principal, upon hearing the news of the shooting, dismissed the students at 12:30 without telling them why. (At 12:30, no one knew that the President was dead. The announcement of the President's death wasn't made to the nation until after 1 PM.) What the children were cheering was an announcement that school was being dismissed for the day. They had no idea why; their parents could tell them.

When Barker refused to report the minister's second-hand information, the pastor had gone to Rather with the story and Mr. Rather went to Eddie Barker who told him, "My kids are in school there, and I checked it out, and there's nothing to it,'" 

"Well, great--I'll just forget it,' Rather said. Later Barker said, "But instead of forgetting it, he went out and did a number on Dallas and its conservatism, with the preacher's story at the center of his report." 

The way Rather did it was to sidestep the customary process of filming such a report and having the news director look at it, evaluate it, and he would decide whether or not to air it. Instead, Rather made the announcement live on the air.

Did the story of the monstrous, cheering school children take hold? Yes, the story is still in the public consciousness more than 50 years later and is included in the book, "Dallas 1963" as something that was "rumored," but the authors didn't go on to say that the story was false. Either they didn't check it out, as reputable authors would do, or they did, knew it was false, yet left it hanging.

"Barker's local TV and radio crews scrambled to arrange on-air interviews with teachers to rebut the story, but the lie had already traveled halfway around the world and would become an enduring part of JFK assassination lore." (Philip Chalk, member of the University Park Elementary class of 1974)

Livid at being lied to, Barker laid into Rather as soon as he returned to the newsroom, expelling the reporter and all his national-news colleagues from the building, yelling, "Get out of here--you and this whole bunch!" 

This shows us something about the human race: we can know that something is a lie, yet repeat it and even broadcast it to the world if it advances our agenda. Satan was the first to do this--he knew that Adam and Eve wouldn't become gods if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but he told them they would. He told the lie because it fit his purposes and so the Bible says of this "angel of light" that he was a liar from the beginning. 

If that weren't serious enough, another of his lies is that all religions lead to God. He knows that's not true, but millions and millions of people believe it. Why? Because they want to. That's another thing about homo sapiens: if we like a story, we'll believe it without giving it a fact check. 

 Satan knows that faith alone in Christ alone is what saves a person (Luke 8:12), but he promotes the lie that works do. Millions of people believe that lie. Why? Because they want to.

In order to make conservative Dallas look evil, Rather used a lie about elementary school children to do so because the lie fit the narrative he wanted to present. 

How about us? Do we stick with the truth about those with whom we disagree or do we exaggerate their faults, shade the stories we tell about them to make them appear worse, or, heaven forbid, do we propagate rumors about them? 

The New Testament says, "Speak the truth and speak it in love."  


  



Friday, October 27, 2017

BURNING BRIDGES

The Mike Curb Congregation (they had nothing to do with a church) sang a song in a 1970 hit movie, a song called "Burning Bridges." To use the sophisticated terminology of musicians, it's a tune that can be described as "catchy." (I like to toss around technical terms.) The lyrics of "Burning Bridges" always bring to my mind Jesus' description of a man no longer on this earth, but separated from God forever and ever.  Read the lyrics and see if they remind you of Luke 16:19-31.

Friends all tried to warn me
But I held my head up high
All the time they warned me
But I only passed them by

They all tried to tell me
But I guess I didn't care
I turned my back and 
Left them standing there

All the burning bridges that have fallen after me
All the lonely feelings and the burning memories
Everyone I left behind each time I closed the door
Burning bridges lost forevermore

Years have passed and I keep thinking
What a fool I've been
I look back into the past and
Think of way back then
I know that I lost everything I thought I that could win
I guess I should have listened to my friends

All the burning bridges that have fallen after me
All the lonely feelings and the burning memories
Everyone I left behind each time I closed the door
Burning bridges lost forevermore

Burning bridges lost forevermore

THE REQUEST

In Jesus' account, the man is in a place of eternal torment; his memory is intact; he remembers his family, the brothers he loves and wants them to be warned not to suffer the fate he is. He asks that a miracle occur and through that miracle, they hear the truth, the truth of the gospel. 

But the answer is, "No," and for a good reason: if they don't believe the Bible, they won't believe Lazarus sent back from the dead because Lazarus would only say what the Bible says.

BURNING BRIDGES 

Using our sanctified imaginations, we see that with his memory unimpaired, he can think about the bridges he burned in his lifetime when he had opportunities to be as Abraham and David were, justified by faith. 

We note that he burned the bridges, and that people are burning their bridges today, bridges God has instituted to draw all men to Himself (John 12:32--"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”) There are six bridges:

1. The bridge of creation which testifies 24/7 to God's existence. (Rom. 1; Ps. 19)
2. The bridge of the concept of eternity in the human DNA. (Ecc. 3)
3. The bridge of the Bible, His complete and connected thought toward man. 
4. The bridge of His Son to provide the payment for our sins by His death on the cross, a public death of which Paul said, "This was not done in a corner."
5. The bridge of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. 
6. The bridge of various Christians God puts in the path of the unbeliever. These are the friends who "tried to warn" him, the ones who "tried to tell"him, but he "didn't care." He "turned his back and left them standing there." They were the "everyone" he "left behind" "each time he closed the door." 

In our sanctified imaginations, we can hear the man in torment declare, "All the burning bridges that have fallen after me/All the lonely feelings and the burning memories/Years have passed and I keep thinking/What a fool I've been/I look back into the past and/Think of way back then/I know that I lost everything I thought I that could win/I guess I should have listened to my friends. Burning bridges lost forever more."

ONE LAST TIME

To engage our sanctified imaginations a bit longer . . . would it change you if, for ten minutes, you could hear the screams in hell? 














Friday, October 20, 2017

HIGH NOON IN THE SUNDAY SCHOOL

We're in a Sunday school class and in that class are some who are hostile to grace. Their gifted, gracious, and humble teacher has been teaching that salvation comes by faith alone in Christ alone,  but they aren't buying it.  Instead of accepting the Bible's clear teaching, they're angry and their anger shows. It's growing weekly.

HOW TO EMPTY A CHURCH

There's one way to empty a church and a Sunday school class--start teaching what salvation is and what it is not. The what-it-is-not-part will especially do the emptying and leave those who don't leave marinating in their anger. To explain what the gospel is not, the teacher makes it clear that salvation does NOT come by faith in Christ PLUS a hodgepodge of works such as abandoning sin, baptism, putting Christ on the throne of your life, walking an aisle, praying through, confession of sins, and making this or that vow. It is when some hear what the good news is not, then the clash begins.

One lady in the class has had enough and already left the class. Another has sworn that the youth under her auspices will never be exposed to such teaching.

Many of the ones who remain in the grace class sit there every Sunday thinking, "Surely a person has to do something for salvation, doesn't he? Surely he has to abandon his sins, doesn't he?" (Somehow, it never occurs to them that neither they nor anyone else in this life has ever abandoned sin.)

THE REAL ISSUE

One Sunday, what's really bothering them craw-deep finally comes boiling to the surface, and, like Mt. Vesuvius hurling rocks and ash 20 miles into the atmosphere in 79 AD, two people in the group express why they're so angry.

They fume, "Our parents never believed this [faith alone in Christ alone]!" By that admission, they're expressing the sentiments of others (not all) in the class.

There we have it--their parents! They're middle-aged (or above) and their parents are still controlling them. Way down deep inside, they have a really huge problem--their authority isn't the Bible; it's their parents, not Christ and His word. Instead of imitating the noble Bereans and searching the New Testament to see that Christ and the Apostles condition salvation on faith alone over 150 times, they've rejected the grace message out of hand because their parents are ruling them from the grave.

Although they've memorized John 3:16, they're so spiritually blind that they can't see there are no works in the verse. Not one. Some have the New Testament requirements for discipleship mixed into the gospel. Others have the Ten Commandments and the Golden rule in it. They can't even discuss the matter because the "discussion" consists of their repeating the same memorized phrases over and over again. After that, they begin to level personal attacks. Brush fires are erupting all over the place.

Like a pack of Ismaels on the loose, they're attacking Isaac and it all goes back to their parents and, upon examination, to their grandparents, truth be told. Mom and Dad rule them from the grave.

Their number is legion inside and outside the church, they are the tares among the wheat. Grace sounds foolish to them, even moronic; they ridicule it (I Cor. 1:18, 23).

The question: Is someone ruling you from the grave?


Friday, October 13, 2017

THERE'S NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN HEAVEN

Free speech is a huge issue today, huge to the point that it's being questioned and, in some cases, opposed if it's deemed, "hate speech." Universities ban certain speakers from their campuses if their views are not deemed politically correct. In addition, there are those whose speech is censored if someone deems himself offended by it, thus "offensive" is defined subjectively by the hearer. Our American heritage from the Bill of Rights is staunchly opposed to such encroachments.

But did you know that there's no freedom of speech in heaven--no boasting.

Eph. 2:8-9 declares: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Elsewhere, Paul writes, "For the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith."  

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God" (Romans 4:2). "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,  so that no man may boast before God" (I Cor. 1:27-29). 

Jeremiah 9:23-24: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,  so that no man may boast before God."

Do you get the idea? God hates boasting.

THE FIRST BOAST IN THE UNIVERSE


Lucifer was the first to boast, and, interestingly enough, his bragging concerned five things he planned to do:

‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’

PAUL'S PROPENSITY

Paul had an area of weakness in his sin nature: a propensity to brag. This bent toward bragging was a serious matter, so serious that God blocked it and Paul was honest about what God did. He describes it in II Corinthians 12:7: "Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!" That's what bragging is, it's "exalting myself," and wasn't that what Satan did? Bragging is such a serious affront to God that its prevention necessitated a thorn in the flesh for Paul.

IT'S OURS TOO

We are so curved in on ourselves, bragging wasn't only Paul's problem; it's ours. To listen to some preachers/missionaries/evangelists, everyone they come in contact with trusts Christ as Savior or finds himself "put down" by his keen intellect. Then there are those who never let us forget that they overcame smoking or some other bad habit; they incessantly tell us of the riches they accumulated because they were such good Christians that they tithed the gross and not the net. (Yet, truth be told, their largess came in spite of their tithing.)

IT'S ALL OVER THE PLACE

Every political campaign is one boast after another. This candidate is gong to "Bring us together.Another is going to "Make America Great Again," Then that one will bring "Hope and Change." The next one is going to send us to college and make others pay our tuition. There's an old saying for someone who overestimates himself: "He believes all his geese are swans."

Our sports heroes sorely lack a Lou Gehrig humility. It's catching. Those we make our pop culture heroes tear down their barns to build bigger and more impressive ones; they buy a new car or two every time they change their socks. Their want their possessions to do the bragging for them. Their conspicuous consumptions are their silent boasts.

THE BOWER BIRD

The male bower bird is so desperate for female attention that he builds an elaborate nest with incredible skill, featuring incredible colors. The birds use trash and garbage to create beautiful works of art. They choose objects of brilliant blues and whites, things colorful with which to build their bower.

All of this is to attract attention and it works. Such is the human race with it's innate desire to say, "Hey! Look at me! And while you're looking, I'll tell you all about me." It reminds me of the author who was going on and on about his accomplishments and his plans. Finally, he said to his friend, "Well, that's enough about me. What do you think about my latest book?"

NO IMMUNITY

No one of us is immune. I was once in the home of a very fine Christian man, a preacher/speaker/writer well-known in Christian circles and whenever I was with him (very rarely), I always enjoyed his company and his keen wit. Once, while visiting with him in his home, he asked me a really, really strange question: "Would you like to see the place where I mail my books from?" (I silently pardoned his ending a sentence with a preposition.)

I had given him no hint that I was interested in his postal affairs; they seemed mundane and inane to me anyway. Matters of the USPS aren't of consequence to me.

I wondered why I needed to see the place of mailing, but agreed. So we made our way through the house into his garage. Sure enough, there were the books he'd written and the postage meter on which he weighed the packages and by which he affixed the proper postage. His garage was his post office, but that wasn't a big deal to me, or anyone else, most likely. Yawn.

But I suspect that's not what he really wanted me to see in that garage because in the garage from which he mailed the books was his car, a "Car" with a capital C. But what a person drives is wasted on me--I don't know anything about cars and I don't care anything about cars (except when mine has a problem). They mean nothing to me, so it was a wasted trip into the garage.

I think he wanted me to see his new BMW convertible (or whatever it was) so it could be a silent brag, one that exalted its owner. It didn't work because he didn't know how little attention I pay to automotive trinkets, his or anyone's. (But I would pay maximum attention had he taken me into his garage and shown me Mickey Mantle's autographed bat or Roger Staubach's cleats!) 

Like I said, he was a mighty fine fellow and a true servant of the Lord, but he, like we all, have that inbred bower bird tendency to exalt ourselves or certainly, at the very least, we crave to do so.

God will not allow boasting in heaven. (Without our sin natures, we won't even think of such a thing.) His plan of salvation won't allow it--we just receive by faith, without cost to us, the free gift of the work of His Son for us.

Instead of self-exaltation, we can practice today what we'll be doing in heaven by following the psalmist who wrote: "My soul will make its boast in the Lord." And the words of the wise man, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips."


Friday, October 6, 2017

IT'S EVERYWHERE AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Talk to any missionary, foreign or domestic, and he'll tell you, "It's everywhere. Everywhere I've been, it's there." It's in America; it's overseas in every foreign country, even in places that aren't countries. It's in Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, and Islam, et al.

DO THE MATH

There are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. There are 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide. There are 15 million Jews worldwide. There are 14 million Mormons worldwide. There are 50 countries which have a Muslim majority. By my admittedly rough count, there are 42 countries in which Roman Catholicism is dominant, going by the percentages of the populations.

THEREFORE: IT'S EVERYWHERE

What's everywhere? What's everywhere is the Satanic deception that salvation comes by works. From Judaism: "Salvation is open to all; people must observe and practice the ethical pattern of behavior as summarized in the Ten Commandments."

From Mormonism: "You are saved by grace after you've done all you can do."

From Roman Catholicism: "It is the grace of Christ alone that saves us by our cooperating with that grace in fulfilling the law of Christ," . . . "and we see faith also involves assent to God's truth, obedience to Him, and it must be working in love."

From Islam: "Live in such a way that's pleasing to Allah so that [you] might gain paradise."

THERE'S ONLY ONE

Biblical Christianity is unique: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

"Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested,
being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction." 

 "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."

"And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life  without cost."

We could go on and on, but those texts suffice. Salvation is a gift. No one has ever had to work for a gift. If you work for a gift, it's wages, not a gift.

THE WORLDWIDE LIE AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

So we see that Satan has disseminated a worldwide lie, just as Paul wrote, he has blinded the minds of men. He has billions of victims. That word, "victim," changes our attitude toward the unbeliever--he's a victim of satanic blinding, living in chains in the slave market of sin.

This blinding is the background of Paul's instructions to Timothy concerning the Christian's social skills: "The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged." The Christian teaches in kindness, teaching in kindness in person, in writing, and on the social media (which is better termed, "The Unsocial Media"). Note well that we're to exhibit patience with those we instruct, even when they wrong us.

We have way, way too many cantankerous Christians who love to quarrel. They aren't servants of Christ ("The Lords' bond servant must not be quarrelsome.") What are Paul's instructions in this text--"be kind to those who agree with you"? No. His instructions are, "be kind to all." We're to be kind, even to the unbeliever who's opposing us because we see what he can't see, we see what's going on behind the scenes--he's a victim of the deceiver. We then treat him accordingly.

JUST HOW WIDESPREAD IS IT?

I was reading an author who was proclaiming that salvation is free. Absolutely free. Totally free. He emphasized that only Christianity offered salvation free and clear, a gift. And then he came to his dramatic conclusion. (Are you ready for this?) To get that absolutely, totally free salvation, he wrote,  "Turn from your sin." Wait. What?

It's everywhere.