Saturday, May 23, 2015

ALL POWER IS FROM GOD, Dan Mayfield

David said, "Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God;" Ps 62:11.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon learned this principle after he said, "Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" Daniel 4:30. God heard him and brought him down to such a humble and broken condition that for "seven periods of time" the king was driven from mankind and ate grass from the field like an animal. At the end of this period it says Nebuchadnezzar looked up and said, "my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation." Daniel 4:34. All great men, all proud men, all thinking men, all endowed men, and all men who are graced with good fortune need to know that their strength is fleeting and that it can be taken from them in a single moment. The king's boast ought to be in the Almighty God who gave the ability to do great things.
Do you have power? It is from God. Is there power in the Universe? It is from God? All power that grows the blade of grass to that which moves the constellations is the power of God. The Creator spoke the word and all things came into being so that what is seen was made from what cannot be seen, Heb 11:3. This is why we bow to Jesus Christ because the Lord of heaven and earth is creator of it all, and "3and upholds all things by the word of His power." Hebrews 1:3. All strength is not of man but God. Without God's power, all would be powerless. This helps us to better understand the humble faith of Paul who said, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Phil 4:13. Man is powerless to save himself. Man is powerless to do good and he will always fall short until he acknowledges the greatness of God and His power. Man may do great things but he is always tapping into God's power. The glory and boast is not his to take, but it is God who made possible, and it is God who should be glorified. It is possible to appear powerful and to be counted as powerful by men. But all such men will pass from this earth and all remembrance of them and their works will be forgotten, Eccl 2:16. Why is God opposed to the proud? Because they arrogantly believe their greatness is of themselves. They commit the greatest evil of denying the Creator; but not only do they deny the gracious appeals of God, but they shake their fists at Him and proceed to deceive others. God is opposed to all but the humble who know their true state is pitiful. How much better it is to acknowledge our own powerless condition, and to humbly present ourselves before the Almighty God! Do you not know that God will humble you if you are proud? The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh so that he might boast in weakness and not in his power. Do you want a thorn? It is better to bow before Him and give Him honor for all He has done for you. Paul said, "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am strong." 2 Cor. 12:10. God told Paul that "power is perfected in weakness" which means that if there is any power to be had, it must be God's that comes through a meek and lowly spirit. You think you have power but you don't. Not of yourself anyway. If you have power, do not engage in vain boasting or God will see and take it from you so that you learn while you still have a chance. And if you are humble, then God will exalt you.
Isaiah said, "28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable *. 29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:28-31.
Strength comes from the Lord if we will wait for Him.

LIBERTY OR FREEDOM IN CHRIST - Dan Mayfield

Liberty is in Christ and it includes freedom from the Old Law and circumcision, Gal. 5:1ff. Of course, this includes the very real freedom from sin and its penalty. Because of God's grace through OBEDIENT faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26; 1 Thess 1:3; Jas 2:14ff), Christians are set free from any system of works which requires perfection. "3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Rom. 8:3-4. In Christ, we are truly free; we are free indeed.
----But liberty is not absolute as it can't include a liberty to sin against God: desiring to sin would not be the right spirit, Rom 8:5,6. God has not set us free to sin against Him. Instead He says, "But through love, serve one another", Gal. 5:13. Sin harms others because it's contrary to the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself". Therefore liberty ends at the point of sinning against God and others.

Liberty includes some things that a Christian holds as a matter of faith to God. Romans 14 gives the examples of eating meat sacrificed to an idol and to the holding of special days. Concerning this, Paul says, "5 Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God" Rom. 14:5,6. These liberties represent personal and private expressions of faith. These personally held liberties cannot be forbidden or legislated against by the church.
---- But these liberties cannot be exercised to the harm of others.The observance of these liberties is limited to private observance because opinions vary and they will be highly divisive. "For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died." Rom. 14:15. An obvious conclusion is that to bring personally held liberties into the church and to impose them contrary to another man's conscience is not walking according to love. Paul said, "19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles." Rom. 14:19-21. Loving others and the pursuit of unity in the church trumps any right we have to exercise our freedom. Liberty ends at the point of dividing the church.

What is lawful, is not always "profitable". Paul says in 1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything....All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." How can something be lawful but not profitable? Two things. The liberty becomes your master and Paul says, "I won't be mastered by anything." And second, it is not edifying. If the liberty is harmful to the spiritual condition of self and/or others, the liberty should be shelved. Paul was more interested in saving souls and in doing what was profitable to the spiritual growth of the church than he was in practicing his liberty. If the lawful thing enslaves and does not edify, then it is unprofitable and is not allowed in the church to be practiced.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE RICH?

"If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them." - Ps 62:10

If you were an instant bazillionaire, and instantly had more money that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined, would you still worship God? Would you still meet with the saints and would you "glory in your humiliation" Jas 1:10? Would you sing praises to God and humbly lead the prayer? Would you give a large portion of your bazillion to God's work or would you withhold in fear that so much might cause the church to go astray? Would you still wear your gospel shoes (Eph 6:15) and knock doors and would you help yearly with the VBS? If you were an instant kazillionaire would you sit at night meditating on God's holy word and would you pray to Him for His will to be worked in you?

Or....would your first order of business be to write a bucket list of things you always wanted to do? Would you get liposuction and hair implants? Would you do a lot of things that invest in the little bit of life you have here?

Even if you never become a killionaire, it might be the new management position and the handsome raise there that's just enough to change your life away from God. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much", Lk 16:10. Are we faithful now? Is God the yearning of our heart now? Is His will the meditation of our heart now? Do we die daily to self and have we presented ourselves fully to Christ for service? Riches? We don't need to money of Bill Gates to lure us away from God. All we need to do is forget that this life is like the fleeting mist of the morning. Please look to God and devote yourself fully to His will for you.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

APPRECIATE THE BLESSING

Our daughter Kristin related a story of a mother who was obsessed with cleaning and would get very frustrated over finger prints or anything out of place. Her child was always frustrating her because of the dirt and grime he left behind. Well an accident happened and the child died. A real tragedy. The mother did something very natural which we do when losing someone important in that she began looking for evidence of the child's play. There was none. The toys were put up and the fingerprints were all wiped clean. How she would have loved to find a fingerprint.

Today, Heidi was telling me how she tries to ignore the little messes in life that can keep her from enjoying the really important things in life. She told me that a Proverb came to her mind this morning, which says,

"Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox." Pro 14:4.

She decided that it meant it was better to focus on the good than the bad. So what if you have a clean house but don't have the little rug rats, family, and friends who are so very precious?

This morning, Heidi went in to wake Rushie up and he said for her to get in bed with him (Rush is 2). So she did and he covered her up. Then she started feeling crumbly things in the bed. She said, "Rush, what's all of this crumbly stuff in the bed?" He said, "That's my rocks!" Well he had had five or six geodes in bed the day before and they tend to crack and crumble along the edges. There were many crumbly and uncomfortable bits of rock which Rush slept on through the night. Heidi said for Rush to tell her next time there is something uncomfortable in his bed and she would clean it up for him. Rush said, "OK mommy, I'll tell you, and you can clean it up, and I'll put more rocks in my bed." It made Heidi laugh as she thought how Rush is her little ox and how much better it is to have his messes than to have a clean house without him.

You have the choice to fret about the troubles of life or to give thanks for the blessings. The garden can be a burden for its weeds or it can be a blessing for the produce it brings in the harvest. Don't let the devil steal away your blessings.

CREATURE COMFORTS

When a Scribe said he would follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus replied, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere * to lay His head." Lk 8:20. First, I can't read those words without crying. I love Jesus and can't take away what he went though. But also it makes me think about what I would say? Would I think, "Oh, well that stinks. Let me think about it. I'll get back with you when you are back this way."? This truth is, we are living with way too much and most of us would turn away rather than make the sacrifice Jesus called for.

Go without a pillow and sleep where the lost souls are. Go hungry from being too busy with the Lord's work to stop and take a bite. Let go of the friends and family that are a continual hindrance to your walk in the light. Give up the politics and world interests that are killing your soul from the eternal things of God.

Jesus died on a cross and then said "follow Me." Does Jesus look over His shoulder and see you walking close in His steps? I pray He sees me. I'll die to self. I'll sacrifice my time. I'll serve. I'll give rather than receive. Walking with Christ is not always the easy path; it's sometimes hard, but it is the way of peace, joy, and an eternal hope laid up for those who do.

FOLLOW THE PATTERN

Christianity, it is said, is a 'pattern' religion. What this means is that we follow the pattern of Jesus' life and teaching. Paul said, 'Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me', 2 Tim 1:3. When you and I follow the pattern of teaching in the Bible, it is apparent that we are following Christ. But when our lives, our words, our worship, and beliefs do not conform to the pattern laid out in the New Testament, then we are outside of Christ and His will. To not add to or take away from the Bible is to follow the Bible because it alone has words that save. James said, 'receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls', James 1:21. Peter writes that we are 'born again' through the 'living and abiding word of God', 1 Pt 1:23. There is no new birth of the soul apart from the truth of God. To believe in Christ is to know with certainty that He 'has words of eternal life', Jn 6:68. So follow the pattern of the Bible which is laid out in the New Testament. To 'exceed what is written' is immoral and will be judged by God, 1 Cor 4:6.

Churches that have women preaching and leading prayer have departed from the pattern of the New Testament, 1 Cor. 14:34 ; 1 Tim 2:12. Whoever protest against this, is protesting against the Word of God. Churches that allow all marriages and do not call for adulterers to repent and put away their spouses are not following the pattern of the New Testament, 1 Cor. 6:9-10. Adultery and homosexuality are sexual sins that must be done away with. Churches that introduce the organ and guitar are churches that have departed from the pattern of the New Testament. Those who protest are not on the side of Christ. Will worship, meaning self-imposed worship, is always sinful being rooted in lust, selfish desires, and an arrogance that will not go unjudged. The New Testament pattern of singing was the pattern for Christians for centuries because no command or example for music in the church was given to do anything but sing. The Catholics introduced musical instruments. The Methodist, the Baptist, and the Presbyterians were first a capella singing only until these denominations caved to the pressures of the fleshly ones. The Christian Church departed from the churches of Christ in the late 1800's because they followed the desires of the flesh. These that have pipes, strings, and tinkling things have departed from the pattern and it can't be justified.

Faithful Christians must repel these soothsayers who appeal to the ear and offer unconverted souls what pleases their ears and their senses. I say this all in love. The church of Christ must always prove all things and hold fast that which is good. What is not good, what is not according to the pattern, must be roundly beaten and cast aside as rubbish.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

HERMENEUTICS: AN EXPEDIENT VERSUS AN ADDITION TO GOD'S WORD



"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:18,19)
The warning issued in the Revelation letter against adding or taking from God's Word is echoed throughout the Bible. This is why the conscientious student of the Bible understands the challenge to shun the opinions and traditions of men. But is there a logical method of interpreting the Bible to ensure that we speak and teach only the truth? With so much doctrinal confusion, one might think it impossible to not mix in error with the truth. But more to the point of this lesson, is there a way to determine whether a practice is necessary to expedite God's command or unnecessary? Please follow the chart and see how this is possible.

There is a difference between an expedient and an addition to God's Word. The Bible warns not to take away or add to it; to do so is a sin. However, the Bible also gives commands (to assemble) without giving every detail on how to accomplish the command. These unspecified "details" are called expedients because they help to expedite the command. How does the follower of God know the difference between an addition and a necessary expedient? This has been a problem for many people.

The debate between those who justify instruments in worship and those who do not. Seeking to justify their use, some people counter that non-instrumental churches use song books for which there is no Biblical example. The fallacy is like comparing apples to oranges. An addition sets aside God's command by replacing it with another. An expedient fulfills the command without doing harm to the command. A capella churches are not being inonsistent. The graphical illustration should clarify the issue and help to better clarify the debate.

FOLLOWING THE CHART.
1. In the center of the diagram is the general command to worship. From John 4:23,24 are two items of a general nature that guide Christians in all things pertaining to worship; it must be done "in spirit and truth." If God said nothing else in the N.T. about worship, then the possibilities for worship would be the skies the limit. However, "spirit and truth" worship is just the beginning of His instruction. If God specifically states what is acceptable, then nothing can be offered to Him beyond what He has specified in the New Testament.

2. Going outward from the center of the diagram are the five specific items of worship that are found in the N.T.: singing, praying, giving, partaking of the Lord's Supper, and teaching Scripture. Beyond these five, there is nothin else to be found. But what if I wanted to introduce dancing into the worship? Would that be an addition or an expedient? The general command to worship "in truth" hinders adding new forms of worship. No animal sacrifices are allowed. No dancing. No banging a gong or cymbal. No lighting of candles or burning incense. None of these things are a means of expediting the five items. A prayer does not need incense. A lyric does not need a piano. A reverent assembly does not require a dog and pony show. So as much an instrumental music apologist might rationalize, these additions are modern inventions unknown in Scripture. But what of the song book? Surely the song book is a modern invention too not known until the printing age. But the command from God is to sing and only the songs of a specific nature that are truthful and edifying. The song book is a means of expediting the command in order that all of the church may quickly follow along and expedite the command. The song book does not add any element of worship.

3. From the diagram and connected to the five specific items of worship, the New Testament gives some details (in the gray boxes) or particulars showing how they are done. This guidance comes in the form of specific commands, approved examples, or necessary inferences. For the Lord's Supper, the church follows the example of the New Testament. There is no command, example, or otherwise for remembering it daily, monthly, yearly, or never. God said to partake of the Lord's Supper and in Acts 20 is the example where the church assembled for the purpose of "breaking bread". The doubter quickly sees what he thinks is an weakness positing that the church was assembling to eat lunch. But most people know that Christians had homes to eat in and meals were enjoyed every day, not just the first day of the week.

4. Connected to these are the "expedients" (in the thick black boxes) - not addressed in Scripture, but they are arguably necessary if the command is to be fulfilled. If I drive or walk to church, God doesn't care how I get there as long as I get there. God says to assemble and because the church met in whatever location was available, where the church assembles doesn't matter to God. Therefore, renting or buying a building is not adding to God's Word. A building is an expedient because it aids the Church in fulfilling the command to assemble. The song book is an expedient that helps the Church fulfill the command to sing.

5. Additions (in the pink boxes) are unnecessary to fulfill the God's commands. They are presumptuous and they open the door to other unscriptural practices. Because vocal singing-which is commanded in the New Testament-requires no accompaniment, a musical instrument is not an expedient; instead, it is the addition of an unauthorized form of music. Singing can be done anytime without the accompaniment of musical instruments. It is sophistry and human desire that justifies additions to God's Word.

6. When these principles are followed, the Christian can be confident that God is pleased with what he is doing. Of course, all of these things must also be done in the right spirit. We must worship God in spirit and truth.

_________
For more on this subject, the Christian Courier web-site has an excellent article: 'Aid' or 'Addition': What is the Difference?

MDR: FOUR GOSPELS TELL THE WHOLE STORY

I know how people break down the Gospels saying Matthew is for the Jew and Luke is for the Greek, and so forth. That's all fine and good but the Jew and the Greek and whoever else is encountering the Bible is going to need all four Gospels because they are all inspired and they all have valuable information for learning the full teaching by Jesus.
An example of this is what the Gospels tell us about the identify of John the Baptist as the prophet Elijah. Was he or was he not the prophet Elijah? One Gospel isn't enough to get the full picture.
John says he was not Elijah. In John 1:21 the people asked John if he was 'the prophet' and if he was Elijah? John flatly said, "No", to both questions. But it tells the truth that John the Baptist has his own personhood. Elijah was a different man than John and the two can't be the same. This isn't the complete story.
Jesus says John was the prophet Elijah. At the end of John's life when he was imprisoned, Jesus took to defending John the Baptist and telling how John is the prophet prophesied of in Malachi chapters 3 and 4. And then Jesus says, "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come." Mt 11:14. This sounds like a bona fide contradiction in the Scriptures. But it most certainly is not a contradiction. But it illustrates why we need to read what all of the Gospels say so that we fully understand.
John came in the "spirit and power of Elijah". The angel is speaking to Zacharias, John's father, and said to him that, "It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Lk 1:17. This passage helps us to understand how John the Baptist could be Elijah, without literally being Elijah, as we see that he was "like" Elijah in both "spirit and power".
"The likeness of John the Baptist to Elijah strikes us not only in his outward appearance, his clothing and way of living, but in his spirit and character as a preacher of repentance." - Peoples New Testament Commentary, Lk 1:17
These three passages in John, Matthew and Luke are all necessary to understand the identity of John the Baptist. One Gospel account isn't sufficient to learn that John was not the Old Testament prophet, and yet he was the prophet in the sense of being very much like that old prophet.
Seeing that all of the Gospels are inspired and necessary for seeing the whole picture, imagine how important all of the accounts are when seeking to understand weighty matters of the coming kingdom and righteous living in the new dispensation!
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage (MDR). To learn what the Lord says on MDR, one needs to look at what Jesus says in Matthew 5:31,32 and 19:1-12; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:1-12. One Gospel reading would not be sufficient to learn the full teaching of Christ on the matter. Only in Matthew do we see the exception to the general rule that divorcing and remarrying always leads to living in adultery. The exception allows for the reality that in the marriage covenant one spouse might fornicate and Jesus says this leaves the innocent party in the marriage an additional option to marry another if the divorce happens. I say "additional" option because Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 7:10 and 11 that the consequence to the general principle - which we would read of in Mark 10 and Luke 16 (see references cited above) - is that there are only two options after a divorce which is to "remain unmarried or be reconciled". Paul indicated this is what the Lord taught. And in most cases, these two options are the only options meaning that the one marriage is all you get and remaining single will be a very real requirement if the marriage cannot be mended. But what Paul doesn't mention in 1 Corinthians is the exception that Jesus allows in Matthew 19 and Matthew 5. This additional information given by Jesus illustrates why all of the Gospels are needed to ascertain the fully teaching of Christ.
In the four Gospels, called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we learn about the Good News of Jesus Christ. These books are the only place man can turn to get the definitive truth on the identity and teaching of Jesus. To have the story of Jesus told from four individuals is the wisdom of God which should be appreciated.
Humbly yours, Dan Mayfield

HAND CLAPPING, Dan Mayfield

Now I've seen several people argue for hand clapping (rhythmic) and people are divided on whether it's right or wrong. The Bible doesn't say one way or the other. But that "the bible doesn't say you can't" is a very weak argument for doing something. Doing something because "the bible doesn't say you can't" had better be a really ethical and necessary thing as it has the potential of [1] opening the door to all sorts of error based on the same weak principle, and [2] it has the high potential of creating division.
Hand clapping has some problems.
[1] It does not edify in the biblical sense of that word. The spoken word of God edifies and Paul says "let everything be done for edification" 1 Cor 14:26. Even legitimate "tongues", which were miraculously spoken foreign languages, when not understood with the mind, could not edify and was to be silenced. How much more should the noise of a humm or a clap be silenced!
[2] It adds to the music God already authorized which is singing with the voice. To "add" is forbidden by the Scriptures. Rev 22:18 warns against ETITHEIMI, 'to lay upon' the Word of God something additional to what is inspired. We know we are not to lay upon God's Word something additional. To sing spiritual songs with the voice is to complete the direction from God. To "lay upon" the singing with a new kind of sound/music is to do something to what is authorized. Let me illustrate. Picture a cup filled with water. Then pour a handful of rocks into the cup. The rocks displace the water. To add the rocks takes away from the water. When the hand clapping is added, of necessity something is taken away from the vocal singing. The ears are no longer filled only with the beautiful, edifying spiritual words, but they are now filled with smacks and clacks and noise that does not do anything for the soul but satisfies only the flesh. The addition of noise is not to be supported by those who follow God's word that all things are to be for edification. Whatever subtracts from that edification is to be removed.
[3] The pressure to clap points to something that is not born of the Spirit of God. The things of the Spirit of God are unquestionably good so that spiritual people all agree they should be promoted and encouraged by all. Singing is encouraged in the church and the force or pressure to follow along is wholesome. All are encouraged to pray and to partake of the Lord's Supper.
These are holy without question so much that when someone is NOT participating, it is thought that things are not right with that person. This is how we view the need for universal participation in the things born of the Spirit.
Now I say that to call attention to the pressure to clap. The pressure is for full participation in the clapping. Where clapping is accepted, the person who doesn't clap is viewed in a certain way as "fuddy duddy", or uncoordinated, or unspiritual, or legalistic. You join into the clapping by the pressure of the group.
[4] The practice of hand clapping, once adopted, has the suspect tendency of being irreversible. Like the thorns and thistles that would persist in Adam's garden, so clapping once incorporated cannot be removed without a painful and thorough cleansing. Once the noise of clapping is adopted, singing alone without it is not an option. It will be clapping 100% of the time - unless the leaders say "with this song or during this service we ask that you not clap." Singing alone becomes boring and not an option. This persistence to clap that cannot go back becomes an unwritten law to be enforced.
If anyone has any doubt about the seriousness of this matter, one only needs to see the way clapping is vigorously defended.
Therefore, to keep from running headlong into the troubles of disunity and to the dulling of the soul such noise will inevitably bring, hand clapping should be avoided completely. The ones who need to have their nature stirred by it will use any kind of argument to get their clapping into the door. "I clapped one time....are you telling me I'm going to hell?!" "The Bible says to honor others and the commonly accepted way of honoring people is with applause....you telling me I'm going to hell for clapping in honor?!" The hand clapper needs his fleshly nature stirred. And he will use anything specious argument to advance things to his final goal. No matter what their reasonings are, they must be repelled and silenced.
The reason to have clapping is it sounds good. The reasons not to go there are numerous and far outweigh any argument for clapping.

Monday, April 27, 2015

THE ENEMY OF JESUS CHRIST IS MY ENEMY

"For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of CHRIST" - Phil 3:18
The cross off of CHRIST is hard. And to follow CHRIST Jesus is hard. Denying myself and carrying my cross daily is hard. But I rejoice to have the privilege.
Now there are many who teach a soft and easy way to Jesus. They teach "faith only" doctrine which is a perversion of the Gospel and the work of the devil. And there are many who embrace this easy Gospel.
Those who pervert the Gospel ate enemies of CHRIST and they are my enemy too. We have seen long and heated debate about the rightness of fellowship with those who teach error on how to be saved, how to worship God, as well as holding to other errors. If these denominations would not have CHRIST to speak there more than once, because that's all it would take for Him to correct their error, then how much time should we spend with them?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

TESTING GOD BY INSERTING YOUR OWN WISDOM, Lk 4:9-12

Luke records that Jesus was led by the Spirit around in the wilderness and for forty days he did not eat and for forty days he was "being tempted by the devil."
"9 And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,' 11 and, 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.' 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is said, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" Lk 4:9-12
The devil's toolbox is small but his tools have a myriad of uses for evil. The temptations Jesus endured those forty days must have been many, but the three that are mentioned point to three broad areas the devil targets in a man: Tool 1 is to get a man to satisfy his natural needs; Tool 2 is to get a man to satisfy his want for material and lustful things in the world; and Tool 3 is to get the man to exalt himself and make himself an equal to God by pride. These compare nicely with Genesis 3:6 and 1 John 2:15. Look these up on your own and see for yourself the parallels there to the temptations here which Jesus went through. To this writer, it adds weight to the words of the Hebrew writer that Jesus "was tempted in all ways that we are, yet without sinning" (Heb 4:15).
The purpose of this writing is to zero in on the third temptation of putting God to the test. What was involved in the temptation? The devil tempted Jesus to test God by throwing Himself from a great height and the devil even quoted Scripture to add force to the validity of the temptation. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11 which is about the servant or minister of God who trust in the Almighty. Though it's true that Christ trusted in God, no doubt!, the devil's use of Scripture must ALWAYS be considered suspect and even unworthy as much as when he deceived Eve in the Garden.
Jesus bypassed the opportunity to correct the general truth that the Father would be watching over the welfare of His Son, as we saw in the deliverance from Herod's attempt to destroy the infant Jesus, but instead accepting the premise and putting God to the test, Jesus pointed to another truth that trust or faith in God should guide our actions. Jesus trusted the Father and wasn't about to throw Himself from the temple. He said to the devil, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test!" These words are less a reminder to not risk our lives and are more of a reminder to trust in God's Word as it is written. Don't listen to the devil or any messenger of the devil who will pervert Scriptures to advance their carnal goals. Such test are tantamount to not trusting in God.
We must not test God. One such test is to ask if God will save me even if I am not baptized? When Jesus said to make disciples and baptize them (Mt 28:18,19), and that those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mk 16:15,16), then to not be baptized is to test God. Jesus said do not test God. Will God be pleased with me if I add musical instruments to my worship? When Jesus sang to the Father, and the disciples sang to the Father, and when the only music exemplified in the New Testament church is singing, then to add musical instruments is to test God. God has told us what He wants. To add something more or to take away from what God has said, without getting an answer from heaven, is to test Him. It is not a small matter that this test of adding musical instruments into the solemn and holy worship to God has proven to be extremely divisive from the time in the 7th century they were first added by the Catholics and up to our own time.
If we know the character, particularly the faithfulness and goodness of God, then we will do His will. No testing of God is advisable. I say this in love. Dan Mayfield

Thursday, April 16, 2015

IS ONE SIN WORSE THAN ANOTHER? IS ONE COMMANDMENT MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANOTHER?

If you asked me what trespass by children towards their parents is worse than all others, I would answer "dishonesty". It's another way of saying Hazel and I valued truthfulness. Years ago, a brother challenged me on that assertion. I was raising my five children. He had raised his, and let's just say I wasn't looking to his example to emulate. Anyway, he challenged me on my assertion that honesty is more important than the others. All trespasses are the same, he insisted. My reasoning, right or wrong, was that it is better to have truthfulness with shortcomings rather than "perfection" with no truth. See, without truth, how can you know there is 'perfection'? But every relationship must be based on truthfulness. I could deal with an honest child who made mistakes. But how do you deal with dishonesty? It makes all of the child's actions, words, and motives to be suspect. Honesty must be tackled to gain ground elsewhere. So I concluded that my children got twice the punishment if they lied because truth is the foundation. If there's no foundation, there's no trust. And when there is no trust, you can't believe anything about the child.

In Matthew 22, the Pharisees and Lawyers decided to take their turn with trying to trip Jesus up. They were looking for Him to make a major faux pas which they could use to crucify Him with. They asked, "which commandment is the great commandment?" It's almost certain this was not a sincere question. They had hopes Jesus would answer wrongly.

If they could trap Jesus into saying one commandment was most important, they could accuse him of diminishing other vital parts of the Law of Moses. They might then say something like, "Jesus said these other commandments were not great."

I'm not sure the lawyers were ever that concerned about truth for such to be their motive. We have seen, in fact, that they would invalidate the Law of Moses for the sake of their traditions, Mt 15:But maybe, just maybe, Jesus confirmed the validity of my own point - which is that something like LOVE is foundational, upon which everything else depends.

When you are dealing with people who don't LOVE and don't value TRUTH and HONESTY, you fall must fall back on esoteric arguments about which law or which work is greater than others. Bless you. Dan

THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU FIGURE OUT THE SADDUCEES ARE NO MATCH FOR JESUS!

The Sadducees didn't believe in life after death. Luke records that they didn't believe in angels or a spirit. So they thought they would trap Jesus, who they must have figured out taught life after death, by offering up an absurd hypothetical about a woman married to seven brothers (all according to Dt 25:5, read it) and asked whose wife would she be in the afterlife? Remember, they don't believe in afterlife, so they think they have proven that afterlife is impossible because of the mystery of it. Jesus said to them, "You don't understand the Scriptures nor the power of God." First, Jesus tells them their reading and interpretation has been flawed. And second, they don't know the power of God to make heaven work perfectly whether or not we can grasp it now. Then Jesus taught them something about their beloved Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God told Moses, "32 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB '? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." And after hearing these words, the crowd was stunned! Jesus Christ just decimated the Sadducees. Matthew records, "33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching." When we stop trying to figure everything out and just accept it by faith, then we will be happy.

Can we understand the One God comprised of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit? Not likely because it isn't something that fits into the three dimensional world in which we live. But it's real. Can we understand prayer? No always, but we trust. Can we understand why God's plan of saving the world is placed in the hands of fishermen? No, it seems impossible. But thank God the Apostles didn't say, 'Hmmm, Gentiles were considered circumcised.....maybe if we leave those people ignorant, just maybe they will go to heaven though they are ignorant." Let's start believing God and accepting that God's power is at work. We are just the instruments. Our job is to go and preach in faith. In the end, God will make sure everyone had a chance. I trust that. Praise God. Praise Jesus. I love to learn that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead; they are alive. God bless you. Dan

DOES YOUR GOSPEL SAVE: IF IT DOESN'T SAVE, THEN IT ISN'T THE TRUE GOSPEL

I have heard people try to minimize what is the Gospel - a "core Gospel" if you will - to distinguish it from the response to the Gospel. I gather that the purpose of this effort to narrowly define the Gospel is to then be able to say that a wider or broader segment of religious organizations, namely denominations, are preaching the Gospel. This premise, which I believe is false, leads to the false conclusion that these denominations are doing the Lord's work of spreading the Gospel. Let me challenge that.

Let me illustrate my point of what I think is the goal of narrowly defining the Gospel. Let's say that the Gospel is defined as the love of God. If that's the Gospel, and if preaching the Gospel is preaching about the God of love, then a very wide and broad segment of religious society could be said to be faithfully proclaiming the Gospel. The defining of the Gospel in the narrowest of terms, or too narrow of terms, must be challenged so that we aren't unfaithful.

Though Paul gives a synopsis of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 as centering around the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, these are not all there is to the Gospel. These are not the complete Gospel and I'll tell you why.

The complete Gospel must include teaching not only the doctrine of Christ, but also the proper response to the Gospel.

The Gospel saves. Romans 1:16 says the Gospel is God's power to save to everyone that believes it. The Gospel when preached and obeyed results in salvation. Without the obedience there is no salvation. And if a person is not saved, washed in the blood and added to the kingdom of Christ, we have to conclude that something less than the Gospel was preached.

Since denominations stop short of teaching what Ananias taught in Acts 22:16, and they stop short of teaching what Philip taught in Acts 8, and they stop short of teaching what Paul taught in Colossians 2:12,13, and they stop short of teaching what Paul said in Galatians 3:26,27, then their work doesn't result in people being united with Christ death, burial and resurrection in the waters of baptism and therefore they are not saved.

At best, preaching the Gospel of Jesus without also teaching what He said in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15,16, is only teaching a partial Gospel. Without obedience and adult immersion, they don't preach the Gospel Paul wrote about in Romans 1:5,16; 6:3-5; 10:16;16:26. In the end, a partial Gospel does not save. Jesus said, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." The Gospel calls for repentance and baptism and holy living. 1 Peter 3:21 says "baptism saves you".  Since we know it is the Gospel that saves, it must save at baptism. Simple. It's still grace. It's still faith. The salvation is still a gift. But the moment Gospel salvation is first received is in the waters of baptism. The salvation of the Gospel only occurs when a person responds to it in obedient faith. It's simple, really. Preaching the "core Gospel" might make the tent bigger, but it doesn't fill the tent with the saved. If repentance and baptism are not called for and obeyed, then the complete Gospel isn't preached.

I say this in love and respect. Sincerely, Dan Mayfield

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9jy7rlmRPqMSW5yN3RybzdQc2VoU05TOFNaZi1wLVl0bFdF/edit

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

THE PURPOSE OF ADULT PENITENT BAPTISM

Paul said to the Galatians, "26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who werebaptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Galatians 3:26,27

How does "baptized into Christ" in Galatians 3:27 make vs 26 clearer? Christians agree that we become God's children by faith.  Why does the Apostle Paul bring up Baptism? There is a relationship between vs 26 and 27. But what is the relationship between baptism and faith? Vs 27 says the one that is baptized "has clothed himself with Christ". Since Paul says, "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ", the opposite would be that "you who are not baptized into Christ have not clothed yourselves with Christ."

I think we have to agree that being a son of God by faith (vs 26) and being clothed with Christ (vs 27) point to the justified or saved reality. But why don't you see that Baptism is the point the Galatians were united with Christ, buried with Him, and raised to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:12,13)? Faith without baptism is no different than faith without repentance or confession. Faith alone doctrine is not what pleases God. God wants obedient faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26 1 Thess 1:3). Since faith, the saving kind of faith, works and is obedient, baptism does no harm to the doctrine of salvation by faith.

Do you know that John the Baptist baptized for remission of sins? And Jesus said you must be born again - born of water and spirit. Immediately after He spoke this truth to Nicodemus, Jesus and the disciples went out baptizing people, John 3.

This "born again" language is picked up by Peter who says, "3 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 AND "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. Being born again is God's work. And being born again cannot be accomplished apart from the Word of God.

But notice something Peter says in 1:3 that the we are born again to a living hope THROUGH THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST.

This new birth work of God is possible only through the resurrection of Christ. That's where the power is.

Now look at 1 Peter 3:21 that says, "baptism now saves you", the way Noah was saved through the waters of the flood, and if we momentarily remove the parenthetical explanation of vs 21, we get this: "baptism saves you....through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." The power for being "born again" is God, the blood, and the resurrection of Christ. So Peter makes it clear that "baptism now saves you"! He isn't suggesting you or I put our faith in the water just as Noah's faith was not in the water. Noah's faith was in God who saved Noah through the water. And our faith when being baptized isn't in the water, but it is in God who saves us through the water. Faith isn't in the water, the work, not in anything but in God. But there is no new birth without going down to the water.

And do you know what you are to be doing when you go down into the water? The following verses, Acts 2:21,38; Acts 22:16. Back to 1 Peter 3:21, have Peter saying that baptism is an appeal to God for a clean conscience. Joel said that "everyone that calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." 17 verses later, Peter tells the people with pricked hearts HOW to call on Him according to Joel's prophecy; they call on the name of the Lord by repenting and being baptized. Take note, also, that Ananias said to Saul, "now why do you delay? arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, CALLING ON HIS NAME." Acts 22:16. When you are being baptized, you are convicted that you are lost and you are calling on God's grace to cleanse your conscience.  This is very important to understand.

The Gospel saves and nothing else can save. But the Gospel saves only when it is obeyed. What will be the outcome for those who do not obey, not believe but obey, the Gospel? The answer is clear. See Romans 10:16; 2 Thess 1:8,9; 1 Peter 4:16. The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a participation in the Gospel. In it, sinners can be buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. If taught according to the New Testament, men will be convicted for their sins, repent, and seek to be baptized. God will hear the prayer of a soul appealing for a clean conscience. They come out of the water born again by the power that is in the resurrection of Christ. Bless you. Dan

To email Dan Mayfield: Click Here