Tuesday, August 19, 2014

THE FOCUS ON THE GODLY: NOT THE EXTERNALS


"there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him." Mk 7:15
These are the words of Jesus He spoke to the religious Jews who took special care of washing hands, pots and pans but who were clearly defiled in their hearts and souls. 

The words of Christ remind me of something G.K. Chesterton said that, "while saints can afford to be dirty, seducers have to be clean." Chesterton, What is Wrong with the World, p.76.

Hypocrisy in a man must be concealed by outward washing and polish on the exterior. These fool the carnal man who will support the seducer. It is why many charlatans dress in the very best of clothing.

I am personally leery of preachers who wear the finest in clothing and who speak in affected and flowery speech. They use these to cover and conceal the true self which they cannot allow to be seen. But the beautiful dress does fool many men who support these hypocrites.

Jesus said, "you blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also." Mt 23:26.

It is not that the outward presentation is to be neglected, but God's people focus their efforts first on making the inside clean. Clean inside then has a way of becoming manifest on the outward appearance. The eyes are brighter. The tongue cleaner. The lifestyle purer. The appearance less offensive to the eyes, nose, and ears of the world.

So give up seducing and trying to fool people that you are something you are not. Become pure and godly on the inside. This will make you genuine and a more useful servant of Christ Jesus.

Humbly I offer this. - Dan

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DEPRESSED?

DEPRESSED?

"25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Mt 6:25ff

The text above is from Jesus' "sermon on the mount" where Jesus had just warned the people of trying to serve two masters and of having two gods. But people try to all of the time. But the duplicity represents a divided soul which necessarily means conflict. This conflict will feel like the worst kind of depression.

If a person is depressed, there might be a very simple explanation for why. When God wants you to walk to Jesus but you keep walking to the bar, you are going to be depressed. When God wants you to be content and practice self-control, but you spend, spend, spend to the point of bankruptcy, you are going to be depressed. When God wants you to read His Word and hide it in your heart, but you can't find a single Bible verse you know, you are going to be depressed. When God wants you to love your neighbor as yourself but you continually allow your tongue to gossip and spew venom, you are going to be depressed.  When God wants you wives to respect your husbands but you talk about him behind his back, you are going to be depressed. When you have a laundry list of chores to do at home and the house is in disrepair because you are lazy, you are going to be depressed. When you never miss your favorite recreational activity but skip out of worship and fellowship, you are going to be depressed. When you receive from others but hardly lift a finger to help others, you are going to be depressed. 
Depression, anxiety, and worry is going to happen when your inner self is in conflict with the outer self. When you smile at a man but inside you seethe with hatred and ill will, you are fighting a war in your own being that will destroy your spirit. A war in the mind that wants to do evil and professes to do good is a mind in turmoil and you are going to be depressed.
Jesus said to focus on today instead of tomorrow. Worrying about clothing, food and shelter is unproductive and takes a person away from functioning today, Mt 6. Jesus said, "don't worry" and I think He meant it.
Get right with God on the inside and you will be happy. Be true to God and to yourself and you will rejoice. Focus on the finish line with Jesus Christ and take your eyes off of the vain things of this world and you will have the abundant life Jesus came to give.
"4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:4-8
Instead of getting defensive and throwing up a wall of excuses that your bad feelings have nothing to do with you, and that there's nothing you can do to affect them, do the self-examination and find the conflicts in your own mind and soul.
I say all of this with humility and love, Dan

Saturday, August 09, 2014

THE ONE BAPTISM THAT UNIFIES

There is one Baptism that unifies the church, Eph. 4:5. As there is one body, which is the church (Eph 1:22,23), and one lord, even so there is only one baptism. It is pointed to by the Apostle Paul in Romans 6 where he says, "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.", Romans 6:3,4. The one Baptism is the one that Jesus commanded for all to receive when becoming a disciple, Mt 28:18-20; cf Mk 16:15,16.
When it comes to knowing the Truth, do you know why Jesus commanded sinners to be baptized but churches choose to sprinkle babies instead? Who is sinning: babies or adults? Do you know that it was men and women being baptized in Acts 8:12; it was not infants? Who needs baptism: the innocent or sinners? When it comes to knowing and understanding, explain why did Philip "preach Jesus" to the Ethiopian and instantly the sinner asked to be baptized in the water, Acts 8:35,36? Do you understand that preaching Jesus includes the command to get in the water? Do you know why Peter said, "Baptism saves you", 1 Pt 3:21? Do you know why Paul tied faith and Baptism with the blessings of being God's children and with being clothed with Christ? These are important matters. Why did Paul tell the Colossians they were raised up with Christ (3:1) and then why did he tell them they were raised when they were Baptized, Col. 2:12,13?
Do you know why people say water baptism isn't necessary for salvation but they still insist on Baptizing with water? And when they are shown passages from the Bible that contradict their assertion that it has nothing to do with salvation, passages which link Baptism and forgiveness, they say that is talking about Holy Spirit baptism? So they insist that Holy Spirit Baptism is necessary for forgiveness of sins? Do they command people to be Holy Spirit Baptized? Jesus said to go out and make disciples and baptize them? And which verses do they use to justify water Baptism and what verses do they go to to show the purpose of water Baptism? Since Baptism is commanded, are they saying there are two Baptisms commanded? Paul said there is only one baptism.
Holy Spirit Baptism was a miraculous event which came upon people in the Bible without warning or control. It was not commanded. Water Baptism was commanded and for a specific reason. In Acts 2 the sinners were pricked and wanted to know what to do? Peter didn't say, "stand back and wait for the Holy Spirit Baptism." No, he told them to repent and be baptize in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Here we see Baptism is obeyed and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received afterward. Acts 10 tells of the time when the Holy Spirit Baptism fell upon Cornelius and family. It did not save them, but it was a sign that God was opening the door for Gentiles to come into the Kingdom. Cornelius and his family still needed to be Baptized in water to be saved, Acts 10:47. Do you know why the Philippian jailer got baptized the same hour of the night that he heard the Gospel, Acts 16:33? I know why. He was lost and wanted to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. A sinner is first introduced to the saving grace of God when he gets in the water.
Baptism isn't a work of the flesh. It is an act of obedient faith (see Romans 1:5; 16:26) which is necessary for salvation. Until you go to the water to have your sins washed away, you are unsaved. Have you received the one baptism? Jesus said, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.", Mk 16:16.

EVERY EYE WILL SEE...

The Scriptures tells us the world is going to end and that when Jesus returns will be like any other day with people eating, drinking and marrying and they will be working, grinding at the mill, Mt 24:36-42. So the dire predictions by the worshippers of Gaia, Mother Earth are not to concern Christians.

Want to know the real story on "global warming" or "climate change" or whatever they will call it next? Just follow the money. When Al Gore makes money off of the production of CO2, also called air, you know you have the making of the biggest con-job ever perpetrated upon mankind.

Question: Let's say for a moment that we accept the unproven theory (now we are told there's a 'hiatus' of temp. change) that the earth's temperature is rising, That leads to another question.What is the "normal" temperature? When global earth temperatures have been measured for a hundred years or so, how do we know whether the earth's temperature is rising above normal OR that the earth's temperature is rising back to normal?

The NASA guys are now saying that there is a "hiatus" in rising temperatures. But how much would you like to bet that the public school children this fall will read about the dangerous rises and how something must be done right now but will hear nothing about the "hiatus"? This is a con-job on the global scale. Chicken Little lives.

What is our mission and focus? Stay faithful to God until Jesus returns. Don't buy into the hype and fear that humans are making the earth too hot. God is going to make it too hot when His judgment comes. Until then, just be faithful and do His will.

"11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" 2 Pt 3:11,12

KNOWLEDGE IS ESSENTIAL TO HAVING ETERNAL LIFE

If all that is knowable in all of the universe is X; what I know is
But I know there is a minimum amount of knowledge a sinner must have to received eternal life. This takes searching and diligence to know what God expects us to know for eternal life. The rolling stone gathers no moss and the sleeping brain gathers no knowledge. And yet we know that many human beings are, spiritually speaking, fast asleep. They are ignorant of God and yet there is no excuse for their ignorance, Rom 1:20. Paul makes it very clear that those who do not know God and those who do not know and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ are going to be eternally damned, 2 Thess 1:6-9.
How much knowledge is necessary for salvation? Paul said to the Ephesians, "Do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.", Eph. 5:17.
There is a level of knowing that is essential to have eternal life.
It boils down to loving Jesus Christ and being obedient to Him. "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Jn 17:3. And John further writes that this "knowing" of God entails knowing His will and abiding in it. "3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.- 1 John 2:3-6.
When I see the emphasis God puts on obedience to Him and then hear so many religious, so called Christians, saying or equating obedience with works of the flesh, thus discouraging obedience, I think these people must be of the devil, the father of lies.
We must know God to be saved. And to "know" God is to know what His will is and then do it. Yes, it's true that we can't possibly know all that is knowable, but we can know what is God's will for us to be saved. John said, "I have written these things so that you may know that you have eternal life.", 1 Jn 5:13. And the Hebrews writer said, "Faith is the ASSURANCE of things hoped for, the CONVICTION of things not seen." Knowing you are saved is possible better than only have a high degree of certainty and way better than being "pretty sure" you are saved. God has given us "everything that pertains to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence.", 2 Pt 1:3.
Do you know that children are innocent and born without any sins? Do you know that God offers salvation to all sinners? Do you know that baptism is something adult sinners receive for the remission of sins? Do you know that "going to church" is not an option? Do you know that confessing Jesus is essential and that being silent is displeasing to God? Do you know that most people are going to hell? Do you know that ignorance of God's will is not an excuse?
I have good news. The New Testament is available. It's easy to read. And if you live by it, you will have confidence on the day of Judgment. I humbly say all of this. Dan

Thursday, August 07, 2014

NEW BIRTH AND SALVATION ARE THE SAME

John 3:3-5; 1 Peter 1:3,23 are good places to show the need and reality of the new birth.
"3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is BORN AGAIN he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is BORN of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Jn 3:3-5

"
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be BORN AGAIN to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," 1 Pt 1:3

"22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been BORN AGAIN not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." 1 Pt 1:22,23

The new birth happens when God's grace meets an obedient faith that is obedient to the truth with repentance and immersion into Christ. This new birth is is synonymous with being a new creature in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17. The old is passed away and new things have come! Paul talked about this reality in Galatians 2:20. The old, sinful Paul is dead and buried and now Christ is alive in him. Paul talked to the Romans about being raised to walk in newness of life, Romans 6:3-5. This transformation happened when he and the Romans were buried with Christ in Baptism and were raised by the power of God to walk in newness of life. When the Christian's sins are washed away, he was is newborn baby in Christ, 1 Peter 2:2. That's the beginning and a baby in Christ needs to keep growing. But to be specific and to give glory to God, being born again and being saved are ways of describing the blessed reality that is the work of God's grace. "We were saved by grace" is the everlasting song we will sing before His throne. God bless you.

Monday, August 04, 2014

THE PERFECT EXAMPLE TO OTHERS... 1 Thess 2:10, by Dan Mayfield

We do not want to leave any impression that our faith in Jesus Christ isn't sincere. So that Paul could have the best opportunity to teach the Thessalonians and make them complete in Christ, he says, "You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;...", 1 Thess 2:10. The three words "devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly, can be looked at as a triangle where the three points together make for the strong and perfect example to others. DOING RIGHT IN THE SIGHT OF GOD The first word, 'devoutly', is the Greek word PHOSIS (#3743), for piously, holily. It refers to the godly manner in which the Apostle and others conducted themselves among the Thessalonians. Strong's Dictionary says it is from the Greek HOSIOS, #3741, what is sanctioned, as in what God has sanctioned versus what men approve. DOING RIGHT IN THE SIGHT OF MEN The second word, "uprightly", is the Greek word DIKAIOS (#1346), for just, proper. In a legal sense, they always strove to do what was right in the sight of men, Rom. 12:17. The last thing a Christian wants to do is what men know is wrong. It makes it hard to bring glory to God. STRIVING TO BE ABOVE REPROACH, BLAMELESS, SO EVERY ACT IS DEFENSIBLE The third word, "blamelessly", is the Greek word AMEMPTOCE (#273), is the adverbial form of Strong's (#273) which is free from fault or defect. This is striving to not only being technically legal, but striving to be blameless. This is beyond the legalism of merely being right, but it is the spiritual pursuit to do all things in a defensible way.

This careful detail to personal behavior created for Paul the best environment for the teaching, admonishing and exhortation that followed.  I am impressed by the economy and use of words in the Bible. On the surface reading, a person might think Paul is "repeating himself", offering the triplet "devout, upright, blameless" the way people write with synonyms to say the same thing again and again. But we have learned here that each word has it's own meaning and power.  We do well to focus on those words so that we are the best example we can be for the ministry to souls.

Sincerely yours, Dan

Saturday, August 02, 2014

FULFILLED INSTEAD OF ABOLISHED (COMPLETE), by Dan Mayfield

JESUS DID WHAT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR MAN BY FULFILLING THE LAW

The law of Moses was impossible to fulfill. But Jesus did the impossible, living without sin, that He might make righteousness possible for the rest of us who live by faith in Him. 

Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?" (Acts 15:10).

Not the great Apostles nor the great Prophets could ever bear that yoke of Moses as it required perfection; all of us have gone astray and sinned. If anyone was or is ever to be saved and have eternal life, something had to be done.

We see in the New Testament that we are under a new dispensation called the New Testament. We understand that being under the New Covenant of Christ, established at the Cross (Heb 9:15-17), that we necessarily have been released from the law of Moses including the 10 Commandments (Rom 7:6,7). Unlike the Jews, "we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." But how did this happen? What blessed event could release sinful man from that old Law of Moses?

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When Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that He did NOT come to abolish the Law, He meant that He came to be the one person to do what no one else had done which was to fulfill it. Once it was fulfilled, then it was taken out of the way. Once fulfilled, it accomplished it's purpose and was removed by God. Jesus could have stepped into the world and could have declared the Law abolished. But instead Jesus lived it and kept it perfectly that He might be the first to do so. By fulfilling the Law, He finished His ministry on the Cross, and paved the way for men to be made righteous - as the Law demanded - by putting their faith in the one who kept the Law perfectly. 
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The prophecy of Jeremiah 31 shows that God intended to effect a New Covenant which he contrasted with the Old Covenant God gave to Israel. The words of the Hebrew writer creates a fairly clear picture that the old covenant of Moses had become obsolete in favor of the better covenant of which Jesus Christ is mediator (Heb 8:6,7,13). "When he said, 'A new covenant', He has made the first obsolete."

This leaves one particular question in our minds as to what then was meant by Jesus when He said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Mt 5:17)? How can the Law not be abolished by also be obsolete?

The Law had to be fulfilled. Because of the difficulty of keeping it as Paul says, "what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh", and as Peter said of the Law to the Jerusalem council, that it was, "a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear", (Rom 8:2; Acts 15:10), it had not ever until the time of Jesus Christ been fulfilled. For the Law of Moses to be fulfilled it had to be kept perfectly. When Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that He did NOT come to abolish the Law, He meant that He came to be the one to do what no one else had done which was to fulfill it.

The Law of Moses was NOT sin, but was "holy, righteous and good", said Paul, (Romans 7:7,12). Yet the "righteous requirement of the Law" was perfection and anything less would leave the Law unfulfilled. When Jesus came, He kept the Law perfectly "without sin", (Heb 4:15). When Jesus lived without sin, He fulfilled it. Jesus fulfilled the Law for all time. Jesus could have stepped onto the planet and could have simply said, 'This Law of Moses is impossible to keep and I therefore decree it is abolished." But He didn't. Jesus lived under the Law and He kept the Law perfectly to make Him the one to fulfill it.

God put the Law in place for a particular period of time after which time, there would be no need for it. Paul said to the Galatians,

"Why the Law then? IT WAS ADDED because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, UNTIL THE SEED WOULD COME to whom the promise had been made.", Gal 5:19. Notice the part I capitalized to highlight the temporary nature of the Law of Moses. And when the Seed came, meaning Jesus Christ who is the Seed of Abraham, the Law would be fulfilled as had never been done before. It was to be a temporary instrument of God that would teach, a 'tutor' or 'schoolmaster' as Paul put it, which demonstrated that God demands righteousness.

So how does this help us because we are still weak in the flesh and imperfect? Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses and so the righteous requirement of it is possible in all sinners who by faith receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the Law's demand and thus all are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. People of faith are made righteous with the righteousness of the One who fulfilled the Law.

FULFILLED INSTEAD OF ABOLISHED, by Dan Mayfield

When Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that He did NOT come to abolish the Law, He meant that He came to be the one person to do what no one else had done which was to fulfill it. Once it was fulfilled, then it was taken out of the way. Once fulfilled, it accomplished it's purpose and was removed by God. Jesus could have stepped into the world and could have declared the Law abolished. But instead Jesus lived it and kept it perfectly that He might be the first to do so. By fulfilling the Law, He finished His ministry on the Cross, and paved the way for men to be made righteous - as the Law demanded - by putting their faith in the one who kept the Law perfectly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

FORGIVENESS OF OTHERS, Dan Mayfield, 7/20/14

When there is confusion, I'm certain of one thing that it's not God's doing for He is not the author of confusion, 1 Cor 15:33. When there are a 100 doctrinal positions on the topic of forgiveness, at the most, only one is the correction position. The other 99 are false and not of God.

The following is what I know about forgiveness of others. When the evening news tells of the murder of a young college student, I know that a sin against man and God has been committed. I know that that sin has separated the killer against his God. He is lost and he will stay lost for eternity until he repents and appeals to God for salvation. Now in conjunction with this breaking news story, we see video clips of a candle light vigil with a larger gathering of people who are sobbing and praying all of which is led by the local Community Church pastor. And then this man takes the microphone and says that our job is not to condemn but only forgive. And so everyone says, "Amen", and they forgive the murderer. What I know is that Community Church leader is a false teacher and doesn't know a wit about forgiveness. Such a person should not be listened to. How arrogant to make himself more forgiving than God! He surely wouldn't say that murderer is saved without confessing a being washed by God, would he?! Certainly not. And so while he would readily admit that that man is lost because he is a rebel with blood on his hands, he has the temerity to lay a burden on the victim's families, telling them they aren't Christian and they aren't going to be forgiven if they don't forgive the murderer.

CORRECTING THE NOTION OF "UNCONDITIONAL FORGVENESS"
With so many ideas bandied about, understanding what the Bible says about being forgiving is like trying to build on shifting ground. We haven't yet decided if we are forgiving sins or just "offenses". We can't decided if we actually forgive sins. We are confused as to whether we are forgiving Christians or alien sinners, or both. We hear people say that we can't forgive because we are not God. On the other hand we hear that we must forgive or we aren't being Christ-like. We are being told that there is no hard and fast rule about expecting repentance. While at the same time it is insisted that Jesus established that we must forgive unconditionally: which is itself a hard and fast rule. We were assured by people that this principle of "unconditional forgiveness" leaves intact the church discipline described in Matthew 18:15-18 because it is dealing with real sin in the church. On the other hand we are to believe that the Jesus taught the principle of "unconditional forgiveness" by forgiving the most horrific sin committed by man. The Bible isn't confusing, but it gets terribly confusing if an assumption about the meaning of Jesus' words on the cross becomes the rule. I know from Jesus' example that I can pray for the entire world be saved, but I also know that forgiveness will come if the world repents. Many people walk away from all of this in confusion. The Bible isn't confusing. But this doctrine, which I believe is false, is very confusing.

Should we be forgiving. Absolutely we should be. We should be forgiving as God is forgiving towards us.

Before you reject this and cling to the mindless opinion of the Community Church leader, remember that Jesus said, "If your brother sins, REBUKE HIM, AND IF HE REPENTS, forgive him." Lk 17:3,4. Let's look at this more closely.

First, the misled person makes the point that Jesus is talking about a sinning brother, not a non-Christian murderer. True enough. Friend, do you think God wants you to extend MORE grace to the non-Christian than to the Christian? That makes no sense. You think it acceptable to extend your grace of forgiveness to a murderer when you see that God does not expect you to do this for a brother. "But Dan, we might be able to save the sinner." If giving unconditional forgiveness to an unrepentant sinner was effective to save, why wouldn't it be effective to save the Christian Brother? God is not telling us, "Give the gift and maybe the sinner will put away his sin." That's an example of casting your pearls before the swine and it doens't work. Why would you think God wants you to extend more grace to the non-Christian murderer? He wouldn't and many people are confused about this. The truth is, the Community Church leader would most likely tell his parishioners to forgive both the Brother or alien sinner without there being any sign of repentance. So let's get back to the point then. Christian forgiveness involves addressing sin.

Second, Jesus says to "rebuke him". This is a confrontation with the sinning brother to beg and warn him of his trespass. To ignore or leave out this command by Jesus to "rebuke him" is to pervert the truth. This I know is very hard to do and it's why so many bypass the confrontation and move ahead to the forgiving part. This is misguided, confusing, and a downright perversion of what forgiveness is. Then comes the redirect....

You can't forgive someone if it's something you are doing only for yourself. "If you don't forgive the murderer, you will be harboring hatred and you can't let someone else's sin control you. The forgiveness of an unrepentant murderer isn't for him; it's for you and for you own peace." Friend, this is not forgiveness. Whatever is being counseled here is not forgiveness. It's something else but it's being called forgiveness. It's good advice to not let others control you and a victim of a trespass needs to have God's peace and comfort, but it's a false doctrine say that this is forgiveness. Forgiveness is completely about the other person. It's about restoring peace between people. It's about giving a gift to the grieved sinner; which is what 2 Cor. 2 is describing where the man is grieved over his sin and Paul tells the church to forgive the man and love him, 2 Cor. 2:6,7. This idea that it doesn't matter if the murderer is repentant or not, that I give forgiveness for me, that it's something I have to do for my own peace, is a great perversion that must be from the devil. This is know.

Third, Jesus said forgiveness of the sinning brother is conditional, that you are to rebuke and "if he repents", then you are to forgive him. Once you have done the courageous and loving thing of approaching a sinner and once he has expressed his sorrow, then you must forgive him. And if you don't forgive such a repentant person, you are in some serious trouble with Almighty God. Jesus said,
"14"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15"But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Mt 6

 Fourth, the business of forgiving is the work of God we do in our own lives. God wants relationships restored and for their to be reconciliation. So we forgive as Christ forgave us, Col. 3:12. Christians ought to be the most forgiving people in the world. We see how God forgives us when we turned from sin and determined we would walk by faith. He continually forgives us on the basis of our faith. "But Dan, God forgives you before you even ask." This is the kind of confusion and obfuscation that people bring up to support their error of giving "unconditional forgiveness". But while it's true that God continually cleanses the soul of the person walking in the light (see 1 John 1:6ff), it's forgiveness He gives to a person who has faith. This person has entered God's covenant and so God continually cleanses this person of faith. But if this person turns back to the world by making a practice of sin, then God withholds forgiveness.

"But Dan, it's not Biblical to withhold forgiveness." Friend I want you to think about this for a second. Did Jesus not say that
"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Jn 20:23.
Sometimes sins are forgiven and sometimes sins are retained. Now Jesus has already told the disciples how forgiving they are to be, if the sinner repents forgive 7x70 times a day, and Jesus told them if they did not forgive others, God would not forgive them. But here Jesus tells them they will retain sins, which means to withhold forgiveness, and so grownups like the Apostles could understand that our forgiveness is not unconditional. The Community Church leader who tells the candlelight vigil crowd to forgive the unrepentant murderer is a person who does not understand Biblical forgiveness and he probably shouldn't be trusted to teach much on anything - except for human philosophy, maybe.

Finally, Yes God alone can forgive. Only God can erase a person's sins from the book of deeds. This He does by the blood of Christ. This person must repent, be buried with Christ in Baptism, and covenant to walk in the light. And yes, we do forgive sins. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us and we must do so if we wish to be forgiven by God. We pray, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." We forgive Christians and we forgive alien sinners. If my non-Christian friend trespassed against me, and then he says he is sorry, I show the kind of grace God has shown to me, and I forgive him. In the church, because we judge one another (see 1 Cor. 5), we will not forgive but will retain the sins of a brother and will disfellowship him until he does repent. Failure to rebuke and retain sins of an erring brother is to allow the leaven of his sin to infect the entire church. So forgiveness is not unconditional. This I know.

I humbly admit that I only know what God has revealed. I pray that this lesson will help you to be more forgiving. But I hope that you will not suffer the excessive burden of being told you must forgive and unrepentant person.

I said this with love and humility. - Dan Mayfield
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Addendum...
I was asked about how to deal with someone who won't admit there was any offense. Here is my reply.

"But if the offense is real, in the church, home, workplace, and even in society, there is a process to take. In the church, we are striving for harmony in the soul, one that is eternal between brothers. So we have a high standard for correcting offenses. The same is true in the home as it is very much a spiritual institution with the care of precious souls. In the workplace, which is most often completely secular, the offense must be addressed as it relates to the goals of the workplace. Follow the process provided there. Even in society at large, which is mostly secular, there are rules for addressing an offense. Follow those. In all situations, as with the leaders in church and home, someone will judge and people will follow the advice and relationships will be mended. In the workplace, the profit motive is incentive to keep harmony. The soul of the offender in the workplace or in society may be unchanged, continuing to harbor the same meanness, but these environments manage the actions and not the soul. That's not to say that the soul can't be reached even in society, since that's the influence of light and salt, but the authorities in these environments don't regulate matters of the soul. In non-Christian institutions, the major concern is external harmony.

So there is a process to follow with all offenses. Just make sure you have a case. So do you have to forgive someone who won't admit an offense was committed? No, just be wise, walk circumspectly about the person, gather evidence, approach at the right time, escalate the situation following the rules that apply (in church, home, work, society, fraternity, club, etc), and then move forward and let it not control your Christian disposition."

DO THE JOB GOD HAS GIVEN TO YOU: A MESSAGE TO PARENTS WITH CHILDREN AT HOME, by Dan Mayfield (testimonial by one of my children is at the bottom)

Is there a right way and a wrong way to parent? And if there is a right way, can we parents expect favorable results compared to the results of parenting the wrong way? I get the feeling that parents resign themselves to the notion that getting a child to become a follower of Christ is like throwing dice, a matter of luck, which means the parents aren't to blame one way or the other. But that's not a true representation of how parents view how their children came to be what they are. The truth is that if the children became Christians, it is attributed to intentional parenting with unyielding determination see it happen. But, if the children didn't become Christian, it was due to forces outside of parental control. I believe in my heart and known that most parents can and should do better.
Telegraph Parenting. I've never seen a case where a child wasn't going exactly the direction the parents were telegraphing for their children to go. In sports we hear how the boxer telegraphed that he was about to throw a left or a quarterback telegraphed his throw was going to a particular receiver. That telegraph gives away the intention and the real game. The offensive play can be set up to give the appearance of run, but a telegraph will communicate to a perceptive defensive player what's really happening. A parent can claim to be a Christian but the children can tell if you are by your television and movie viewing habits. What are you telegraphing? Are you kind and loving or are you telegraphing something else? Kids learn to watch for what is the real message. If parenting is like a sporting event, every parent is telegraphing something. A dedicated Christian parent will always be living his or her faith. The children will perceive every message being telegraphed and they will act accordingly. Telegraph Parenting refers to the real intention of the parent. As a parent, what are you telegraphing to your children?

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him." Psalm 127:3
Folks, we want and need to take our children from point A to point B, which is to say from childhood to adulthood. And here's the wonderful thing. Whatever you are telegraphing by the values and interests you focus on is the "point B" you are telegraphing for your children to go. Now if we did nothing in between the two points, that "nothing" is still something which will result in children grown into adult bodies but it won't result in them being mentally, emotionally and, most importantly, spiritually equipped for adulthood. The children that are a heritage from the Lord require constant guidance and maintenance. It's a full-time job raising children into adults. The hands off approach to parenting is not an option when we understand what makes an adult in God's eyes. The end-game is too important so mind what you are telegraphing. A child's eternal destiny is in the balance.
Parents with grown children who are not walking with the Lord can take offense at this message, and they might even get defensive. Understand that I'm not attacking you. We are imperfect. If you made mistakes, correct them where you can. Start now at being the best example you can be. This message is true and it's aimed at those parents with children who are in between the point A and point B.
Christians measure success differently than the world. The world feels successful if the child stayed out of jail and is in college. The world measures success by the things accumulated. But Christians measure success by whether children are walking with the Lord, Jesus Christ. Success to Christian parents is seeing the spirit of Christ in the children. When children are compassionate, forgiving, moral people who hope for a reward in heaven, then that's success.
The Apostle said, "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord", Eph 6:4. This seems a mystery to many people. The words are simple enough, but actually doing them is to many parents as foreign as a new language. But it's not as hard as that. To "bring them up in" anything needs to be the thing parents walk and talk about. The "discipline and instruction of the Lord" needs to be telegraphed in every area of the home. This idea is only foreign because it's not the language and focus of the parents. Dads focus on sports. Moms focus on makeup and fingernails. [Ha, how's that for stereotyping! But I'm making a point, so stay focused.] Dads are bringing their sons up in the interests and values of the secular world. Moms are bringing their daughters up in the pop-culture of a world that hates God. Our children are being brought up in something, but it's not in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Young parents, where do you want your children to end up? I don't remember where I was, but I saw a circle of women gossiping about someone they knew. The venom and meanness was embarrassing. I was embarrassed for them as they should have been for themselves. The young children in the group received the message being telegraphed: be nice to people's faces but cut them to pieces behind their backs. If we want to be successful in parenting, we need to telegraph that seeing Jesus Christ is the most important thing to us. Telegraph in our speech kindness and love for others. We need to put worship and reverence towards God first before every sporting event. We need to make sacrificial giving come before another weekend shopping trip. "Daughter, are you going to spend all of your money on yourself? Do you want to rob God?" (Mal. 3:8). And if you yourself speak sacrifice to God, then telegraph it also with actual sacrifice of your time, your money, and your talents. We need to speak more of compassion and forgiveness and let our children see that mean gossiping is unbecoming of Christians.
Excuses for failure. When I think of examples people give for children going astray - peer pressure, predispositions, free will, prodigal sons, Jesus' siblings - I see failure. I don't see God's failure, but I see the failure of human fathers. Prophets, Priests and Kings failed the children of God. Will God have grace for these fathers and leaders? Sure, if they are honest and humble about it. When I think about peer pressure taking children the wrong way, I see failure. When I see the siblings of Jesus not believing and taunting him to go to Jerusalem, I see failure. I gather no consolation from failure. God wants success and he's given us parents 20 or so years to get it right. When I hear of children having a predisposition, if it's evil, it's a predisposition to be broken and discarded. It's a war for the hearts, minds, and souls of our children. Will the world win or will we fight so hard for them that no excuse gives us consolation? In the end, the children will know who is fighting for them.
When raising my five children, with the help of my beautiful wife who is the 'worthy woman', I could detect a distinct moment in their lives where I personally sensed the child was somewhere between me and the peers/world. The world was pulling. I was pulling. I remember distinctly sitting down with my children at what I believed to be pivotal moments where I spoke with passion and love and reason to let me children know that I saw what was happening and that I wasn't going to let it happen. I would remind them of God's will. I would remind them that God has given me a job and I intended to bring them safely to Him. I would spell out exactly what was in the world and how their peers were not going to be around in four or six years, but that I would be there when they were marrying, when they were having their children. I would remind them of where true love was. My wife and I had the rock solid conviction that we were not going to lose one of our children to the world. I can say without any equivocation that you will not find very many people in all of your life who has the conviction that I'm talking about. "But Dan, you can't control them. God gave them free will." With God's help, we let our children know the direction they were going to go and when they got there, they would be so happy and thankful that they chose that way. "Free will" isn't really what children have when they still don't know their right hand from their left. "Free will" is what you and I have as adults. Children left to their "free will" are like abandoned, unloved children, because they don't have parents with the faith to telegraph in every way the right direction for their lives to go.
Final word. Parents, ask yourselves if you are going to heaven. Are you confident of that? Is Jesus your constant companion? Are you daily guided by His wisdom? Does your love for and faith in God bubble up and overflow naturally so that it makes sense and works for your children? Is your faith undissimulated and unadulterated so there's not an ounce of doubt in your children's minds that it's real? Telegraph real faith and telegraph that your children are going to walk with God. Have in your mind that there's no excuse for failure. We parents have an important job with eternal consequences. And I'm serious that every parent is communicating the "point B" they intend to take their children. Just make sure that in every way you are pointing your children to walk with Christ.
God bless you. Dan Mayfield
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The following is from our third child, Heidi Cooley, the middle of our five children. It is her response to this post of mine:
Hi, I am Dan Mayfield's daughter, the third of 5 children. I wanted to step in and give my perspective hoping to diffuse a little bit of the hurt feelings I see in some of the posts. My parents had 5 kids who could not have been more different in our personalities and in the ways that we needed to be disciplined. We were all very different. I was the most trying of all of the children since I hear the most about "Heidi" stories. However, there were a few constants in my family that wove all of us and our individual needs and personalities to a strong, unbreakable relationship with God. We had parents who loved God with ALL of their hearts. We knew without a shadow of a doubt where they stood on every issue because they were rock solid in their teaching and beliefs. We never missed a chance to be with Christians unless we were sick. We heard the name of God on the lips of my parents when they woke and when they walked along the way. It was constant. But more than words was our ability to see through the words to a genuine and humble heart of parents who were not perfect but who were following Someone(God) who was perfect. They never gave up on us. They were relentless in their checking up on where we were and what we were doing. At the time it was a little annoying as a teenager but now I see why they did it. As teenagers you don't see the big picture. You see the here and now but thankfully we had parents who had a close watch on us and many prayers for wisdom and guidance going up on our behalf. With 5 kids, and just the luck of the draw you will lose some of them. With 5 kids and the determination and love my parents had for us and mostly for God, you will succeed. I am about to have my third child and if I believed for one second that there was a roll of the dice happening for their salvation I would be scared to death. I would probably stop having kids so that my odds would be better. There are a lot of half hearted Christians I personally know who have one foot in the world and another in the Church. Now some may say that they did everything they could to guide their children to God but seeing their children grow I will know otherwise. None of this is meant in judgment of anyone. It is a loving reminder that we have to KNOW as parents that we will do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Pray and trust in God to lead the way.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

FAME IS OVERRATED: WE NEED TRUTH BEFORE WE DIE AND MEET GOD

When I think of fame, I think of silly and vain people. The Robert Downey Jr's of the world, today's highest paid actor, are going to die. Fame just vanishes away for the Hollywood star who is dying a lonely death in an apartment or an upscale nursing home. Dean Martin's final days were a dramatic and sad contrast to his glory days of endless martinis and collaborations with the "rat pack". Steve Jobs had billions but they couldn't keep him from dying. Now Jobs' epic rants and obsessive habits paint the picture of someone all too human. John Wayne, lived bigger than life, but now we just know him from a few crackly videos or a short 8mm of him waving from the open door of a passenger plane. Here today, gone tomorrow. We all die and that's the reality. Death is the equalizer showing in the end we are really just humans. Tiny creatures in a vast universe. The glory of today can quickly become the disastrous head on collision story of tomorrow. The obituary has not rich and poor section. Everyone is the same and mostly forgotten in just a short while.

The Bible says and I believe with complete certainty that God is watching our lives and every soul has a personal face to face with Him in their future. "It is appointed for man to die and then comes the judgment". Heb. 9:27. Death and judgment are the sober and ominous reality we must face right now - we may not have tomorrow. Yet most people are living each day, passing their time away, as if their lives and souls were no more important than the next carnal pursuit. The clock is ticking away our time, reminding us that death and judgment are ahead. With each rising and setting of the sun, we should know that our time will come to an end. 

"So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
We may never reach the heights of wealth and fame that some do, but it doesn't keep us from living through them. The awards shows for best actor, best singer, best news scoop, best human interest story, and best this or that, are a weekly event. And what do we sheep do but turn on the television and give rapt attention to who won and what was said in the acceptance speech. We number our days by filling them with completely meaningless things.

Truth is not overrated. God's Truth is eternal. Truth is the food for the soul which Jesus says we should eat every word of. Where man's fame is the fiction, Truth is the fact. To speak God's Truth to others and to live God's Truth is to transport our lives above the silly and meaningless things of this life. Fame bows on its knees before Truth. One is straw and the other is gold. If we number our days, we care less about the straw and seek daily to be enriched by the gold. As I look about me and see the faces of men and women, I think about their souls and wonder how they are going to fare in that face to face with the Almighty.

Robert Downey, Jr. is an entertainer dressed up in a plastic suit in front of a video camera. Rich today, but gone tomorrow. His life is important to God, but is God important to Robert Downey, Jr.? The same should be asked about each of us. Do we truly understand that what is important is being ready for tomorrow? Is God's Truth important to us today? Number your days because they are few, and then comes the judgment.

God bless you. Dan

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FO-MIRACLES, MIRACLES, AND MIRACLE MIRACLES

The miracles Jesus performed were amazing, "notable" miracles. They weren't the normal, every day "miracles" that charismatics point to and say happen all the time. So since these modern "Christians" insist on calling every work of God a miracle, then I'm going to start calling the miracles of Jesus the "miracle miracles". Like this: "that walking on water was a miracle miracle." "And the feeding of five thousand with a few fishes was some amazing miracle miracle." This idea I have will help people see there is a difference between God's provisional works he does behind the scenes - which "Christians" insist on calling "miracles" - and the true miracles, the "miracle miracles" of the Bible. Also, another idea I have is for a third category of miracles. Besides the "miracle miracles" we read about in the Bible, and besides the plain ole "miracles" that are not "miracles" in the Biblical sense but are more properly recognized as the work of God by providence in answering prayers and such, I offer a third category I will dub "fo-miracles" that charismatics perform when they gather together. What does "fo" mean? It's like when someone says, "what are you doing that 'fo'?" So it's just a "fo-miracle". Get it? So now we, who strive to speak the Bible, can accommodate the people who sometimes are confused about miracles by offering three categories of miracles. The last will be the "fo" type miracles that don't work in hospitals, mortuaries, or on the streets where people are sick. The next is what are often termed "miracles", which are not miracles in the Biblical sense, but they might still be the works of God which we can only by faith attribute to the hand of God. And the first type is the "miracle miracles" which are the true miracles that we see Jesus performed, Peter and Paul too. The resurrection of Christ is the "miracle miracle" (Don't criticize, I'm just trying to help people to distinguish). The creation of the world was a "miracle miracle'. The turning of water to wine was a "miracle miracle". I hope this helps. So remember and be sure to distinguish between the Miracle Miracles (in the Bible), the Miracles (just everyday stuff God does in our lives, and the Fo-Miracles.
SERIOUSLY, EVERY WORK OF GOD IS NOT A MIRACLE.
Though we confess that Almighty God works in diverse ways, all that He does is not what the Scriptures refer to as a miracle. The turning of water to wine was called the first of Jesus' miracles. This was the work of the Father through the Son (Heb 2:4). Let's learn to distinguish between God's everyday works and the miracles in the Bible. The miracles of Jesus do not to diminish the other acts of Christ. Everything He did was remarkable and praiseworthy, but everything He did was not a miracle. Was God working prior to the first miracle? Yes. Was God answering prayers prior to this first miracle? Yes, but not in ways that are notable miracles. If you are going to ignore this simple truth and continue to call EVERYTHING a miracle, then please accept my suggestion and begin calling the miracles recorded in the Bible as "miracle miracles".
I hope this is helpful. Sincerely I do. Dan

TO FAST OR NOT TO FAST

We know by a casual reading of Scripture that fasting, intentional abstaining from eating for a period of time, was part the spiritual life.
To correct the misuse of fasting where men did it to draw attention to themselves by flaunting their piety, Jesus said, "16 Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you", Mt 6:16ff.
I take note of the fact that Jesus did not say, "If you fast", but He said, "Whenever you fast", which implies to me that pious people are going to fast. Just as there's no question that pious people are going to give and pray, similarly are people of faith going to fast.
When to fast is not set by others. It's personal and depends on the circumstances. It says that the disciples of John the Baptist approached Jesus asking Him, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” Mt 9:14. Jesus' answer shows that that the circumstances have to be right for fasting. Just as it's not right for a funeral dirge to be played at a wedding, just so is it not proper, according to Jesus, for His disciples to be fasting at that present time. Later they would fast.
"But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast", Mt 9:15b.
The circumstances would determine the time for fasting. When the judgment of God was coming and there was only a little time for gaining His favor, God said for the people to fast. Joel 2 is talking about God's judgment coming upon Israel and holds out a promise that the favor of the Lord may still be won.
"12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
13 And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil."
The "formula" of fasting and rending the garments is seen in other places as well. In Nineveh, as the people responded to the preaching of Jonah they turned from sin with fasting, Jonah 3:5; cf Joel 1:14; Ps 35:13.
During times of repentance it would be a good time to withhold from feasting. Coinciding with the prayers of repentance, it seems appropriate that the repentant sinner not think of eating as part of the devotion, Acts 9:9. During times of change or when wisdom from the Lord is sought after, it would be a good time for fasting. When Paul and Barnabas appointed Elders in the congregations, they did so with prayer and fasting, Acts 13:3. And during a time of mourning, as when the disciples would not have their Lord when He was crucified, this was the time Jesus said His disciples would fast. So during times of repentance, seeking wisdom, and mourning there are examples of disciples fasting. This would suggest there are many opportunities for fasting in the life of a godly person.
When to fast is a matter of personal choice. Kings or Elders may "proclaim a fast to the Lord", but it's a matter of personal choice as is any act of devotion to God. When you fast, make sure it is not done for vain glory. Let fasting, when you decide to do it, be part of the sincere drawing near to God.
As an aside, fasting can also be done for non-religious reasons. As a practical matter, for every buffet line we walk through there needs to be balance which means a time of pushing away from the plate.

DON'T KEEP PREACHING TO A DOG OR PIG

Jesus said, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Mt 7:6.
We have heard the stories of a the pack of wild dogs attacking a child or woman until they are dead and unrecognizable. I also recall hearing of wild pigs in east Texas who will attack and the hunter had better have a tree to climb or his fate could be the same.
One great pearl is forgiveness. A repentant person is to be forgiven just as Christ has forgiven the Christian. But a dog or pig will treat your "forgiveness" with the same contempt they give to the blessed Gospel of Jesus. Go ahead and try it if you wish. The man has just smacked your wife across the face. Say to him, "I forgive you." Go ahead. If you believe that forgiveness from God and forgiveness He expects you to give to others is UNCONDITION and WITHOUT ANY CONDITIONAL OF REPENTANCE, Go ahead and tell the dog or pig, "I forgive you." That's not what Jesus meant for you to do when He said to forgive.
In the study and discussion on the topic of forgiveness, almost always what is left out is what Jesus said, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him", Lk 17:3. The way Jesus' teaching on forgiveness is portrayed is, "If a brother sins against you, forgive him." But all of Jesus' words are important. Jesus said to "Beware!". This is serious stuff. This is dangerous and scary business. It is the cowards path to just "forgive" someone when you haven't approached them and when that person hasn't repented.
"But Dan, if you don't forgive that person's trespass it will torture and control you all of your life." Bologna! Only if you let it. You mean to tell me that you can't move on in life and live for God unless and until every injustice against you has been resolved? I say suck it up. Get up, get dressed, and get out there in the world and live for God. An injustice by an unrepentant person will control you only to the degree you let it. I don't buy the premise and I certainly do not accept the perversion of Jesus' teaching. To forgive an unrepentant person is to act different that God. To forgive the unrepentant is like giving pearls to dogs and pigs who will tear you to pieces.
The ungodly person doesn't get the pearls of the Gospel. The ungodly person is handled the way Jesus said to. "Shake the dust from your feet" and move to the next person or town. The dog or pig doesn't get your pearls. To ignore Jesus' words is to foolishly go where you are not to go.
I say this in love. Sincerely, Dan

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