Chapel In The Pines http://www.thchapel.org Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37 Wed, 24 May 2017 23:58:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 56129785 The Human Body http://www.thchapel.org/2017/05/08/the-human-body/ Tue, 09 May 2017 04:31:28 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2854 The Centerpiece of Easter

I hesitate to use the word Easter, and do so only because in the English-speaking world it is by far the word most used when speaking of the resurrection of Jesus’ body and the celebration thereof. Hereafter, I will use “Jesus’ Resurrection” for the event and “Resurrection Day” for the annual celebration.

Tomorrow, April 16, 2017, is Resurrection Day (the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox), which is nine days before my ninety-seventh birthday.

So why this essay on the human body? I suppose because I think about the human body (mine) more and more as I grow older. This is not (I hope) that I am getting more ego-centric, but that my body is slowing down and demands more of my attention to cope with these changes. The chorus of the old hymn, “Zion’s Hill,” describes my situation:

Some day beyond the reach of mortal ken,
Some day God only knows just where and when,
The wheels of mortal life shall all stand still
And I shall go to dwell on Zion’s hill.

In other words, my revolutions per minute are slowing down gradually until at last they will stop. Hey! That is a good thing – “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 5:8. My prayer is that when l can no longer take care of myself the wheels will stop.

As I have to think more about my body, my focus is not on what I can no longer do, but is on the continual marvel on (and gratitude for) what I can still do, and how the diminished capabilities could have lasted so long. Truly, we can all say with David, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well,” Psalm 139:14.

Before Genesis 1:1, so far as we can know, there were no beings or creatures with bodies. The uncreated, eternal being we call God existed in three persons:

  • God, spoken of by Jesus as the Father and described as Spirit. John 4:23, 24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
  • The Word, a spirit being Who would later take on a body and be called Jesus and The Son of God. John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
  • The Holy Spirit.

Some time before “the beginning” of Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, the eternal, uncreated Being we call God created a huge population of spirit beings including seraphim, cherubim, archangels and ordinary angels. They had no bodies in their natural state in heaven, but when on a mission to humans for God could appear in human form (as though they had bodies). These creatures were animate (alive) but had no bodies.

In the creation account in Genesis, chapter one, the first nineteen verses describe the creation of the inanimate universe and vegetation during the first four creation days.

Verses 20-25 describe the creation of all the forms of animal life, living creatures having some form of body, during the fifth and part of the sixth creation days.

Verses 1:26-2:1 describe God’s final creation, mankind (human beings), on the last part of the sixth creation day.

Verses 2:4-25 give more details on the creation of mankind, the pinnacle, the masterpiece, of God’s creation.

At this point we need to fast-forward from Genesis to the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul writes, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

From these Scriptures we know that humans are tri-partite beings, consisting of:

  • The human spirit – The spirit is the element in humanity which gives us the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. Whenever the word “spirit” is used, it refers to the immaterial part of humanity that “connects” with God, who Himself is spirit (John 4:24).
  • The human soul – The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. It is will, intellect and emotion, the components of personhood. God is a person, having will, intellect and emotion. We are created in His image, as persons with will, intellect and emotion.
  • The human body – The body is the vehicle by which the spirit and soul are able to accomplish that which is God’s intention for each human person to do. It is the most complicated and capable machine ever invented, making every inanimate machine totally insignificant by comparison.

So, we are ready to discuss this incredible living machine, the human body, and then how it is the centerpiece of Easter.

As we have seen, humans were the last product of God’s six creative days. God’s decision to create man was recorded in Genesis 1:26a, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,’”
Then in Genesis 1:27 that creation was recorded, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” They were each created as a mature adult, pre-programmed with an adult vocabulary and ability to speak and understand each word, and all the other capabilities needed for an adult life.

The first words they heard were from God and are recorded in Genesis 1:26a, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’” After blessing them, the very first commandment God gave them was to be fruitful and multiply, so as to fill the earth. Amazing! This most complicated and capable machine is able to reproduce itself. From early adulthood to middle age it is capable of reproducing itself by intercourse with another human of the opposite sex. This sacred, wonderful process is itself an incredibly complicated operation of these marvelous machines, the product of which is a single cell consisting of an egg, contributed by the female, fertilized by a sperm, contributed by the male called a zygote. It is barely visible to the unaided human eye, being only 6 to 8 thousandths of an inch in diameter. When this cell is implanted into the mother’s womb, which process is called conception, a new life begins. The mother’s body supplies the oxygen and food and maintains the temperature needed for that single cell to grow into a baby that can live in the outside world over a period of nine months, but otherwise that single cell and its splits are on their own. Can you imagine? According to the Smithsonian Magazine, by the time this new life becomes an adult it consists of 32.7 trillion cells!

After only 18 days from conception the heart starts to beat and continues beating until the death of the body. Think of it! The adult heart:

  • Weighs only 6-10 oz (.50-.625 pounds);
  • Beats 100,000 times a day;
  • Pumps 1.4 gallons of blood per minute;
  • Pumps 2000 gallons of blood a day;
  • Beats 2.5 plus billion times per lifetime. For me it is already 3.68 billion;
  • Pumps 1 million barrels of blood per lifetime.
  • God sure knew what He was doing when He designed the human heart;
  • Unbelievable!

When the heart started beating eighteen days after conception, it was told to do so by the brain, which also had to cause each beat to happen at the proper rate. As each new organ or bodily function appears in the process of growth, the growing brain takes over control of that organ or bodily function. Before birth, this control is almost totally automatic. No conscious act of the will is involved. By the time the baby is born, its body has become a living chemical plant more complicated and capable than any inanimate chemical plant. From the air breathed, the food eaten, and the water drunk it can create every kind of tissue that makes up the body! All this creativity and organization thereof is controlled by the brain through an incredibly complex and capable electro/chemical communication network, called the nervous system. Motor nerves carry command information out of the brain and toward effectors, (muscles or glands) that will execute the commands, conscious or unconscious. All of the conscious, voluntary, physical movements of the body are thus controlled by the brain. Of all the organs in the human body, that “most complicated and capable machine,” the human brain is the most complicated and capable organ. Mankind has studied the brain enough to know that the previous sentence is true, but is still relatively ignorant of the wonders of the human brain.

For instance, we humans, like many non-human animals, have five senses which enable us to be aware of what is going on with us and around us (in our environment). Those senses are sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. The first four senses are local in nature, in that their sensors deal with very specific stimuli, and are all located in the head. They do, however, all have touch sensors for self protection. The eye reacts to such touch stimuli as heat and cold, any significant touching of the eyeball by a solid object, irritants or harmful chemicals. The ear reacts to heat and cold, the slightest touch of any object on the eardrum and itches at the slightest provocation. The nose reacts to heat and cold, and to abuse it receives by sticking out in such a vulnerable way. The tongue is very sensitive to heat and is very unhappy about being bitten.

The sense of touch is much more universal. Touch sensors are located from top to bottom, side to side, internal and surface. Depending upon the stimulus (i)
touch sensors can detect too hot, too cold, it itches, it aches, the pain,I can’t sit or lie still, that’s wonderful (expert back-scratching), that relaxation is great (lying down in bed after a hard day or expert massage), or ecstasy (various phases of love-making). With all the wonder associated with our senses, all the sensors can do is send a signal along a nerve which connects them to the brain. If the nerve connection to the brain is severed or disabled by unconsciousness or chemicals, there is no sight, hearing, smell, taste or touch. The brain receives and interprets all the sensory signals.

Take my hearing for example. The portion of my brain that handles sound has degenerated with age until I can’t hear even very loud sounds if they are high pitched. My granddaughter Stehpanie came over to my apartment one day to check my smoke alarm. She had been going through their house next door to see if any of their detectors needed new batteries. She asked me to push the test button, which I did. Since I didn’t hear a thing, I turned around to tell her that it needed a new battery. She was in agony, hands clasped over both ears waiting for the test blast to stop.

No one really knows how the brain does this interpretive task. One day when I was working on a church construction project, a two by four fell from ceiling height in an almost vertical orientation and landed on my big toe. I have never felt any worse pain. Now the significant damage was to my toe, but the pain was in my brain. My brain then somehow convinced me that it was my toe that was hurting. I know the medical profession has an explanation of how that can happen, but it has never satisfied me. Give the magnificent body credit, though. It rejected the damaged toenail, healed up the mangled flesh and (eventually) grew a new toenail.

I could go on and on about the mysteries and marvels of the human body. But you get the drift, I hope. We need to get back on the subject of resurrection.

The first human body was that of Adam. The second one was that of Eve, created later on the same sixth creative day. Together they were the culmination of God’s creation. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good,” Genesis 1:31a. We don’t know how long their bodies would have lasted if they had remained in their innocent state in the garden of Eden, but after they sinned their bodies began aging towards death. For a number of generations the lifespan of the human body was almost a thousand years. After the flood, lifespan quickly diminished to the Biblical norm mentioned in Psalm 9:10, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
The Old Testament records one resurrection by Elijah and two by Elisha:

  • Elijah resurrected the son of the widow of Zarephath, 1 Kings 17:18, 19, 21, 22, “So she said to Elijah, ‘What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?’ And he said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.’ Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.”
  • The resurrection of the son of the Shunammite woman by Elisha, 2 Kings 4:35, “He (Elisha) returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him (the son) then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
  • A dead man was resurrected when he came into contact with Elisha’s bones, 2 Kings 13:21, “So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.”

Jesus resurrected several individuals during is earthly ministry;

  • The widow of Nain’s son, Luke 7:13-15, “ When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.”
  • Jairus’ daughter, Luke 8:54, 55a, “But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.”
  • And, of course, Lazarus.

After Jesus’ ascension, the apostles were used to raise the dead:

  • Peter raised Dorcas (Acts 9:36-43);
  • Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12).

All the above resurrections were not to bodies they would have in heaven (or hell), but back to earthly bodies, just healed from whatever killed them. In due time they would die again.

Since we are looking at the human body, we need to look at Jesus’ body, for it was human. So why did Jesus have a human body? Let’s look at some Bible verses that may help answer that question:

  • 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
  • Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

From the above verses we see some (but by no means all) of the reasons Jesus had to have a human body:

  • As eternal Creator-God He could not die. Only by inhabiting a mortal, human body would He be able to die.
  • Only in a human body could He experience human temptations.
  • Only by refusing to sin could he be free of sin Himself so as to be the innocent “Lamb of God,” qualified to bear the punishment for the sins of humanity.
  • In the process of dying on the cross, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Cor. 5:21). Whereupon Jesus “cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).
  • After this unimaginable ordeal, “Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, – – – – – said, ‘It is finished!’ and bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19,:28, 30b.

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” 1 Cor. 15:20-23. HALLELUJAH!

Note that in this passage resurrection of an earthly body back into an earthly body is ignored. The primary meaning of resurrection is from a dead earthly body to a live heavenly body. In this sense Jesus is the only person (the firstfruits) who has been resurrected to date.

The next ones will be the dead in Christ who are resurrected at Jesus’ coming for His bride, the Church. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thes. 4:16-18.

Oddly enough, “those (Christians) who are alive and remain,” won’t be resurrected in the sense dead-earthly-bodies into live-heavenly-bodies, but in the sense live-earthly-bodies into live-heavenly-bodies. In other words, they won’t die. This scenario is clearly set forth in 1 Cor. 15:51-54, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we (who are alive) shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”

Jesus’ goal for our resurrection is beautifully stated in Phil. 3:20, 21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

So what is Jesus’ body like now, which is what our bodies will be like in heaven? There is no attempt to prioritize or otherwise order this list:

  • At least some material barriers no longer apply. When He was resurrected: his grave clothes collapsed and lay in perfect order; he exited the tomb through solid rock (the stone door was rolled away not to let Him out, but so his disciples could see that the tomb was empty); He was able to enter a room undeterred by walls, ceiling, floors and locked doors.
  • He is able to move about in ways and at speeds we cannot comprehend.
  • Jesus’ battered and bloody body was 33 years old when he died and was resurrected with a glorious body that looked like a 33 year old. Isn’t it likely that our appearance will be like we were a glorious 33 year-old?
  • It is immortal (cannot die).
  • It is holy (cannot sin).
  • It will be perfect (its sight, hearing, and all other functions will be perfect).
  • For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Cor. 13:12.
  • We will be able to worship in an absolutely holy place with no sin in us or anyone else, seeing and hearing God!
  • We will be able to sing the songs of heaven with perfect pitch and tempo.
  • And on and on.

On earth in our present human bodies we spend about a third of our lives sleeping. We wonder whether we will need to sleep in heaven. Jesus slept in his earthly body, but now in heaven, He is Almighty God in a body. In Psalm 121:4 we read, “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” I’m afraid there is not enough Biblical evidence to go on. My personal expectation is that we won’t need to sleep.

On earth in our present human bodies we also spend a lot of time (and money) eating and drinking, which is not only essential for life, but can be very enjoyable. Thus we ask, will there be food in heaven? Will we eat in heaven? Even if it is not necessary for life, will we eat because it is enjoyable? What does the Bible teach?

  • In Mark 14:25 Jesus stated that He would one day eat again with His followers, “Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
  • In Luke 24:42, 43, Jesus ate in his resurrected body, “So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.”
  • That there will be food available in heaven is shown by Rev. 22:2a, “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.”
  • Revelation 19:9a states, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” It is hard to believe that there could be a wedding supper without eating.
  • While we are on this earth, Christians are instructed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If eating and drinking on earth have this purpose, certainly any eating and drinking in heaven will merit an even greater devotion to God’s glory!
  • Yet it is hard to imagine heaven having restrooms for billions of people and a sewage treatment plant sufficient for them.

So, what can we conclude? It seems to me it might be something like this:

  • There will be food in heaven. It will likely be different from earthly food, suited to our resurrected bodies.
  • We will eat and drink, not to sustain our life, but for enjoyment of the food and drink, for the fellowship with other believers and with God Himself, all to His glory!
  • There will be no waste products in our new bodily functions.

On earth, in our present human bodies, we spend a lot of time, energy and money in the process of obeying God’s command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (through marriage and the family).

One day the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection, were trying to discredit the teaching. In the course of the argument Jesus spoke these words, recorded in Matt. 22:30, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

FOUL! FOUL! cry out most of the men and even some of the women. This reminds me of an incident when we were taking a team to the Stockton Rescue Mission once a month. We had lots of time to talk going and coming. On one of our trips a discussion about heaven was going on. A younger man was imagining what his married life might be like in heaven. A godly older woman quoted the above verse to him. His instant response was, “If there’s no sex in heaven, I don’t want to go there!” We all got a good laugh. He was a solid Christian who wrote love songs to Jesus, and led us in singing them with his guitar. He was later killed in a truck accident, after which his widow remarried. I’m sure that when he got to heaven he realized his rash statement was unwarranted and he was glad Jesus hadn’t taken it seriously. When my dear wife, Alva, departed for heaven four years ago, my rejoicing for her promotion gradually turned into longing, as so many routine activities reminded me of her. I talked to Jesus about it, which helped for a while. Then one day as I was talking to him He brought me up short. He didn’t speak in an audible voice, but suddenly in my mind was a very plain communication, “Why are you looking backward to a marriage that, though good, is now over? Why aren’t you looking forward to the marriage of the lamb?” I was shocked, and ashamed. Why did Jesus have to remind me? I repented of my obtuseness and rejoiced over the prospect. The marriage which Alva and I enjoyed was only a shadow of that greater heavenly marriage to come, when every Christian who has ever lived will be, collectively, the bride of Christ, our heavenly bridegroom forever!

My mindset was drastically changed and if something reminds me of the old marriage, I can redirect my thoughts to the new one ahead. What a blessing!

It seems likely that our resurrection bodies will thus be different, having no or a vastly different digestive system, and no reproductive system. In any event, they will be perfectly suited to our eternal environment and destiny.

At first mention, resurrection has a positive connotation. There is, however, a dark side to the word. John 5:28, 29, “”Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good*, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” *(John 6:28, 29, “Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’”)

Compare with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish (be resurrected to condemnation) but have everlasting life (be resurrected to life).”

Now consider this word from the Apostle Paul regarding those who refuse to believe. Romans 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made (the highest example of which is the human body), even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

I BELIEVE THAT THE HUMAN BODY, EVEN THOUGH IT IS FLAWED BY THE SIN NATURE , IS THE STRONGEST EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD EXCEPT FOR THE BIBLE! CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE WHEN OUR BODIES ARE ALL CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF JESUS’ GLORIOUS BODY?

]]>
2854
A Sheltered Childhood http://www.thchapel.org/2017/04/08/a-sheltered-childhood/ http://www.thchapel.org/2017/04/08/a-sheltered-childhood/#comments Sat, 08 Apr 2017 13:28:08 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2848 My parents married just after World War I ended in 1918, and I was born on April 25, 1920, so my childhood was neatly tucked between World War I and World War II. Thus I had no worries about either war. Though the great drought/depression of the early 1930’s came during my childhood, my Daddy (that’s all I ever called him till he passed away at the age of 97) had a good railroad job and our family did very well the whole time. Other than the usual childhood diseases we were all very healthy.

I had a very tranquil and sheltered life. I only recall one incident that threatened my sense of security. When I was eight or so my parents had a disagreement, and not wanting to disturb my brother and me, they retired to another room. But the disagreement progressed to an argument and then to some shouting which we could hear. I was horrified. I had never heard them even raise their voices before (and never did afterwards). I ran off by myself, crying and making up my mind that if they divorced I would refuse to go with either of them, so there! I only had the vaguest idea about divorce and its ramifications. It was barely a ripple, and things were back to the normal good.

In my last year of high school my mother decided it was time to share some information about her family that she had not yet revealed (all the persons mentioned now are long gone and have no direct descendants):

  • My mother’s mother, whom I knew as Nana, was my real grandmother. Her husband, Lyle Boyd, was not my real grandfather, but my step-grandfather. My real grandfather’s surname was Shriner, by whom Nana had three daughters. Grandpa Shriner had a drinking problem and was unfaithful to Nana, so she divorced him and married Lyle. Grandpa Shriner also remarried, and lived in San Fernando, California. My mother, her older sister, Verda, and her younger sister, Eileen, kept in secret touch with their father. I suspect that they felt that Nana’s personality drove Grandpa to drink and other women, for she was somewhat of a Turk (or is it Turkess?). She was a Christian Science Practitioner (authorized by the denomination to do religious counseling and “divine” healing for hire). She was a feminist before the term was invented, and had not an ounce of warm fuzziness like most grandmothers.
  • Aunt Verda had gone through three husbands and was married to her fourth, and had no children by any of them. She was a very successful business woman and lived in Pasadena, California.
  • Aunt Eileen, nicknamed Sim, also lived in Pasadena. She was the prettiest of the three pretty sisters (my evaluation). She was able to catch one of the handsomest men I have ever known, Elmer Slaalin. They had only one child, a son whom they (unfortunately) named Dare. My cousin was probably the handsomest and best-built adolescent I have ever known or seen a picture of! With his dare-devil (pun-intended) personality, trying to live up to his name, he drove the girls wild, in middle school yet! They chased him like the next generation of girls went after Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley – I kid you not! Of course he doted on this part of his life. But he was miserable underneath it all, for his parents had divorced, and Uncle Elmer took-up with another woman. Dare described this situation as “like hell,” though he certainly didn’t understand the religious significance.
  • So Nana, Aunt Verda and Aunt Eileen all held a dim view of men. My mother was the only one of the four who had a successful marriage. The other three considered my father as an angel from heaven, not a man, and never let my mother forget how lucky she was.

Wow! I may have lived a sheltered childhood, but I got unsheltered in one fell swoop.

As it turned out, when I graduated from high school I enrolled in a College located in Glendale, California, next door to Pasadena, and not far from San Fernando. I had some kinfolks to help me adjust to being so far from Iowa and home.

Aunt Verda turned out to be a real buddy. I found out that my folks had visited California when I was an infant, and I had taken a shine to her and vice versa. We picked up right where we left off. She loaned her car to me every once in a while so I could go to the beach with my fellow students.

Soon after I arrived, cousin Dare contracted two diseases at the same time. If the doctors tried to treat one of them it would make the other worse. I visited him every time I could on the weekends, but he wasted away under the alternate treatments and passed away without even finishing high school. Both parents were devastated, but made arrangements for the funeral together. After the Christian Science service, which offered no solace, Aunt Eileen, Uncle Elmer, Aunt Verda and I were sitting in one of their homes in a cloud of desolation and despair. Mind you, I was not a Christian then, and didn’t know what to say. After a long, uneasy silence, one of them asked me to tell them about how college was going. My roommate at the boarding-house where I was living and I had been involved in several very funny situations. Since I didn’t have much else to say, and the atmosphere badly needed some lightening up, I told one of the funny stories. To my surprise, it cracked them up, and they wanted some more. Each one tickled their funny-bones more than the last. I guess it was nature’s way of ventilating the shock. It may be that this seemingly unfitting laughter broke the tension between Aunt Eileen and Uncle Elmer, for they decided that they needed each other to cope, and were reconciled. Uncle Elmer was a devoted husband for many years until Aunt Eileen died from breast cancer. I didn’t see Elmer again until after I became a Christian and was the Pastor of the Chapel in the Pines.

When Alva and I heard that he was in the hospital, seriously ill, we drove down to LA to visit him. He was so appreciative of our coming, and he and Alva really connected. Alva shared the Gospel with him as she held one of his hands while I held the other hand and prayed. He delighted to invite Jesus into his heart, and the joy of the Lord immediately enveloped him. I believe that he and Alva are grasping hands and hugging each time they meet up in heaven.

One time when I was down in LA visiting our folks, Aunt Verda said she wanted to take me out to meet Grandpa Shriner in San Fernando. I enjoyed getting acquainted and she enjoyed the visit with her father. On the way back I had Aunt Verda to myself and I was able to witness to her without interruption (it was dark and she was driving). When I finished I asked her what she thought. She replied that I had certainly made the Gospel clear, and she thanked me for sharing with her. Then she commented that she liked the Christian Science position better. Though she had been extensively exposed to Christian Science by her mother, she had never committed to any religion that I was aware of. I knew what she meant – Christian Science taught that “there is no sin, sickness, or death, all is infinite mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is all in all.” She did not want to admit that she was a sinner.

Back to Grandpa Shriner – He had married a Christian lady and took Christ as his Savior while listening to Christian radio, The Old Fashioned Revival Hour, I think. He got thoroughly saved, and though he was old and couldn’t get around, he became a prayer warrior for various missionary radio ministries and gave every cent of his income that wasn’t required for his frugal lifestyle to missions. Alva and I both loved him. He was a sweet, gentle man, and it was hard to believe he had ever been any other way.

When he passed away, his widow asked me if I would come down to conduct the funeral. I was happy to do so. At the time, Aunt Eileen was still alive, so all three of Grandpa’s daughters, none of them Christians at that time, were attending their Christian father’s funeral, with me behind the pulpit! Can you imagine the feelings of Grandpa Shriner’s daughters as I spoke about him in heaven and the need for all to respond to the Gospel? Can you imagine my feelings in such a weird situation?

Years later Aunt Verda had a stroke. I was in LA at the time and hastened to the hospital. She appeared to be in a coma, though she was sitting semi-upright in a chair in a dark corner. Her eyes were closed, she could not speak or move, but I didn’t think she could be so upright if she was unconscious. I went over and took her hand and told her who I was. I said that I wouldn’t talk much as I knew she was probably tired. She responded with sort of a moan of assent. So I proceeded, saying that I hoped she remembered the talk we had about Jesus, and that she would ask Him to be her Savior. She didn’t, or couldn’t, respond. All I could do was hope that she had done so in her heart. She passed away a few days later, still in the (apparent) coma.

So, after spending a sheltered childhood, I suddenly entered an unsheltered youth and adulthood – first within my own family, then for fifty eight years during which Alva and I ministered together in the Chapel.

The result of all this experience was the realization of the extreme importance God attaches to the family, the basic building block of all human existence, consisting of one man married to one woman and the children produced by their union. This importance is demonstrated in the creation account of mankind:

  • Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
  • Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man (his body) of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (his soul and spirit); and man became a living soul.”
  • Genesis 2:18 (NIV), “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
  • Genesis 2:21, 22, “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”
  • Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
  • Note how much of the above is quoted in the New Testament, Mark 10;2-9 (NIV), “The Pharisees came and asked Him (Jesus), ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ testing Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

Note that according to Jesus, when divorce is proposed between two of God’s children, hardness of heart is a factor in one or the other or both. The reason for this is that both parties have the promises and power of God available to them to rectify the problems:

    • Both can get right with God by repenting of their sin, confessing it to Him and getting forgiveness from Him;
    • Both can draw power from the Holy Spirit to correct their behavior;
    • Both can forgive their spouse and are commanded to do so;
    • Both can petition God to restore their love for and trust in their spouses.

Granted, there are situations so bad that there is no way back to normal. But most prospective divorces between Christian spouses could be prevented. A Christian spouse contemplating divorce ought to have a long conversation with themselves, something like this:

  • I am a Christian. I am supposed to have an intimate relationship with Jesus my Savior. Do I?
  • Jesus says in John 15:14, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” Do I obey Him? Is Jesus my friend?
  • Friends talk things over with friends. Have I talked this over with Jesus?
  • If a co-signer were required on a filing for divorce, would my friend, Jesus, co-sign for me
  • How would this divorce affect Jesus’ reputation?
  • What effect would this divorce have on ____________? Ask this question for each of your children, then grandchildren, putting their names in the blank space.
  • What effect would this divorce have upon my spouse?
  • What effect would this divorce have on my church?What effect would this divorce have on my neighbors and friends?
  • What effect would this divorce have on ME? As life goes on will I be in anguish for what I have done to others? Will I be plagued with guilt? Will my intimacy with God be diminished?

Despite the fall, there somehow remained in the hearts of men the importance of marriage and the family:

  • Pharaoh, the heathen king of Egypt, took Sarai, Abraham’s wife, thinking she was his sister. Genesis 12:17-19 tells what happened, “But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? – – – – I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.’”
  • A similar occurrence is recorded in Genesis 26:6-10, “So Isaac dwelt in Gerar (a city in Phylistia). And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, ‘She is my sister,’ for he was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife,’ because he thought, lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold. Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked through a window and saw Isaac showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, ‘Quite obviously she is your wife, so how could you say she is my sister?’ And Isaac said to him, ‘Because I said lest I die on account of her.’ And Abimelech said, ‘What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.’”

More important, of course is God’s view. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel! (Malachi 2:16a) If God hates divorce, we Christians should hate divorce also. I think God’s greatest sorrow about divorce is its effect on the children involved:

  • The immediate damage to the children;
  • The later damage on them as they try to raise children of their own;
  • The damage to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The devil, on the other hand, loves divorce. He has had his sights on the family since Adam and Eve comprised the very first one. He is no doubt jubilant about his current success, and lusting for more.

Who do you think is winning the battle for control of our families?

 

]]>
http://www.thchapel.org/2017/04/08/a-sheltered-childhood/feed/ 1 2848
Is Unity a Good Thing? http://www.thchapel.org/2017/03/05/is-unity-a-good-thing/ http://www.thchapel.org/2017/03/05/is-unity-a-good-thing/#comments Sun, 05 Mar 2017 23:19:07 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2841 But of course! Why wouldn’t it be? What a stupid question! Well, unity has a number of meanings, so we better get more specific. Since I posted the question, I guess it is up to me to pick the dictionary meaning to be used. In my dictionary it is meaning number five: complete accord among persons regarding attitudes, opinions, intentions, etc.

Does the Bible have anything to say in answer to my question? Let’s look:

  • Old Testament – Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren (God’s people) to dwell together in unity (Hebrew, altogether, alike)!”
  • New Testament: John 17:23 (NAS), “I (Jesus) in them (Jesus’ disciples) and You (the Father) in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me.”
    Ephesians 4:3, “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” Ephesians 4:13, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
    Colossians 3:14 (NIV), “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

So, it is plain that for the Old Testament brethren (Israelites believing in the coming Messiah) and for New Testament Christians (members of the true Church, who believe in the Messiah, Christ, who did come) that unity is desirable and all of God’s people are to strive for unity among themselves.So far we have found out a few things:

  • Unity is desirable, at least among believers;
  • Jesus prayed to the Father that believers would be perfected in unity, so that the world would know that the Father had sent Him;
  • That if believers conduct themselves towards each other with lowliness, gentleness, patience and love that the desired unity would be found.

But, it is equally plain to all Christians that the world-wide Church is not in unity, with hundreds of different denominations competing with each other and insisting that their views are the only Scriptural ones.

Hum – it is beginning to look like this subject is not as simple as it sounds. Let’s go back to God’s original intentions as recorded in the Book of Genesis, starting at chapter one, verse one, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” By the twenty-fifth verse of chapter one, after five creative days and a portion of the sixth, God had created the universe and all its inhabitants except man, and had pronounced it good!

What happened next is explained in the passage from chapter one, verse twenty-six through chapter two, verse one: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said (to the man and woman), ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food;’ and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.”

In Genesis chapters two and three we get more details about God’s intent for the first humans:

  • Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being..”
  • Genesis 2:18 (NIV), “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
  • Genesis 1:21-25, “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof, and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
  • Genesis 2:8, 16, 17, “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”
  • Genesis 3:8a, 9, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day – – -then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” From this we see that visits from God marked Adam and Eve’s existence in the Garden of Eden.
  • Thus we see God’s intention for man was to be in perfect unity – Adam and Eve as “one flesh” in unity with each other, both of them in unity with God and with their environment.
  • Having been instructed to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth, they could expect that as children were born, the growing family of man would also be in unity, as long as they obeyed God’s instructions.

The Bible doesn’t say how long Adam and Eve lived in perfect unity with God in the Garden of Eden, but in Genesis chapter three it spells out the catastrophe that destroyed that unity when both Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s severe discipline began:

  • Their unity with God was broken.
  • Their unity with each other was broken, Adam blaming Eve for his disobedience, Eve blaming Satan, in the guise of a serpent, for her disobedience.
  • They were removed from a perfect environment and into a world that would be hostile in comparison.
  • Their natures, which were inclined towards God, became inclined towards sin (see previous blog, “Hard to Kill,” for more about this.
  • Their first-born son, Cain, exhibited that nature which was inclined towards sin, when he killed his younger brother, Abel, of whom he was jealous. So, this sinful nature was now part of mankind’s genetic makeup, inherited by each new child – moan!
  • As a few centuries went by and the population of the earth exploded, a situation developed described in Genesis 6:5-8, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Up until this time Genesis mentions only four men that had been commended by God: Abel, Seth, Enoch and Noah.
  • So God cleansed the earth of its wicked inhabitants through the great world-wide flood, and began a new world population through Noah and his family, consisting of Noah, his wife, his three sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth, and their wives.

When the waters of the flood had subsided, and God had told Noah to come out of the Ark, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices of every clean animal and bird in thanks to God for their deliverance. Then, per Gen. 9:1, ‘God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth (more about this later).’”

It would seem like once again there was unity among God’s people, which consisted of the eight members of Noah’s family to start with, and grew as children were born to his three sons. In the course of starting anew after the flood, God had :

  • Made a covenant with Noah, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22).”
  • Provided a sign that this was so, “It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh (Genesis 9:14, 15).”
  • Added to their previously vegetarian diet, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you—but you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood (Genesis 9:3a, 4).”
  • Established capital punishment, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6).”

The unity among God’s people seemed to last until Noah’s grandson, Canaan (Ham’s son), was old enough that responsible behavior was expected of him. “And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said: ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.’ And he said: ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem, and may Canaan (Ham’s last son) be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.’”

From this hard to understand occurrence we follow other descendants of Ham (than Canaan). In Genesis 10:6 we learn that Cush was the first son of Ham. Then, “Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.’ And the beginning of his (Nimrod’s) kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (Genesis 10:8-12).” Note, Nimrod’s kingdom was Babel —-in the land of Shinar.

Apparently Nimrod’s kingdom dominated the post-flood population as evidenced by Genesis 11:1-4, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’” Their stated purpose was in direct rebellion to God’s command to Noah to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

God’s reaction was swift as recorded in Genesis 11:5, 6, “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men (not God’s people) had built. And the LORD said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.’”

While the sons of men were in unity, they proposed and executed a plan to keep them in the plains of Shinar in defiance of God’s command to fill the earth. God’s observation was that now nothing they purposed to do would be withheld from them. Thus, to partially answer the question posed in the title to this piece, Unity amongst those who are not God’s people is a bad thing! This will be more evident later.

God’s solution was to destroy the unity that could bring success to rebellion against himself. “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:7-9).” A terrible rebellion – a terrible judgment!

Let us try to find some instances of unity among God’s people being good:

  • When Moses died, all Israel united under the leadership of Joshua, God’s choice as Moses’ successor. Thus unified, God miraculously enabled them to conquer the land he had promised them and which they partially occupy today. This unity was good, but lasted only a generation or so.
  • Seven years after Israel’s first King, Saul, was killed in battle, all Israel united under the kingship of David, a man after God’s own heart. During David’s reign Israel quickly became the strongest nation on earth, and remained so until the end of his son Solomon’s reign (a total of 60 years or so). Then disunity greatly diminished Israel’s power.
  • Malachi wrote the last book of the Old Testament circa 432 BC, after which there was no communication from God until the events chronicled in the New Testament began circa 5 BC with the birth of Christ. During this period Israel was torn between the Seleucid (Syrian) rule and the Ptolemy (Egyptian) rule. In 168 BC, Antiochuis IV (Epiphanes), the vile leader of the Seleucid empire, captured Jerusalem and defiled the Temple by setting up an altar to Zeus in the most holy place. This so enraged the Israelites that they united under the leadership of Mattathias Maccabeus (and later his son Judas) in revolt, and by 166 BC were victorious, and in 165 BC had rededicated the temple. The benefit of this unity lasted for 102 years until the Roman General, Pompey, captured the Holy Land in 63 BC.
  • Beginning on the day of Pentecost, 29 AD, the Church walked in sufficient unity to “turn their world upside down” (Acts 17:6). This lasted for 351 years. The Church lost its power after the Emperor, Constantine, “got saved” and started supporting Christianity instead of persecuting it. By 380 AD Christianity was the state church of the Roman Empire and was hopelessly polluted thereby, which situation remained until the Protestant Reformation.
  • In the 1380’s John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English (risking death at the hands of the Vatican) and with helpers began making hand-written copies. One of Wycliffe’s supporters, John Hus, was burned at the stake in 1415, prophesying with his last words, “In 100 years God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” This was fulfilled in 1517 AD, when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church to begin the Protestant Reformation under the banner, “Justification by Faith Alone!” Multiplied millions were truly saved and, united under that banner and blessed by God, successfully broke free from the bondage and heresies of the Church of Rome, though often at the cost of severe persecution and/or death.
  • William Carey, a Baptist pastor from England, was an instrument God used to get the Protestant Church interested in the Great Commission. His 1793 arrival in Calcutta, India, as a missionary, is reckoned to be the beginning of the Modern Missionary Movement. There has been enough unity among Christians regarding missions that this movement is still in progress, with a considerable shift from foreign to indigenous missionaries. Gospel for Asia and Wycliffe BibleTranslators are leaders in this shift.
  • Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements: The Pentecostal Movement got a jump start with the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles which began in 1906. Its doctrinal distinctive involved a dramatic encounter with God termed “the baptism with the Holy Spirit.” The evidence for having received this experience was speaking in tongues. There was enough unity in this movement to transform the lives of millions of Christians and churches, some of which remains to this day. The Charismatic Movement was a resurgence of the Pentecostal Movement, this time amongst the old-time mainline Protestant denominations, and even in some Catholic churches. An American pastor of a Lutheran church who was involved in this movement, Harald Bredesen, is said to have coined the term “Charismatic” in 1962 to make the distinction. He ministered in the Chapel several times in those days. He and his family were great assets to the movement. During the early years of unity the Charismatic Movement continued the transformation of the world-wide Church begun by the Pentecostal Movement. The combined effect of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements are staggering.

Well, we have discussed whether or not unity is a good thing. Does it seem like the conclusion is that unity in the Church is a good thing and unity in the secular world is a bad thing?

I’m afraid it is not that simple. In my own lifetime I have witnessed a number of occasions when unity within the Church was a bad thing. I will mention two examples that in my opinion have produced catastrophic results.

Example One-Anti-semitic and anti-Israel teachings and actions within the Church. As the Apostles died off and the percentage of the believers who were Jews diminished, Christians began to have a negative attitude towards the Jews, calling them “Christ-killers.” As the canon of Scripture was settled on and Revelation was recognized as the Word of God, it was clear that the thousand-year reign of Christ (millennium) depicted in Rev. 20:1-7 was a fulfillment of the angel Gabriel’s prophecy to Mary in Luke 1:31, 32, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David (over Israel).” Thus what we call the pre-millennial coming of Christ, a doctrine held by the Church for 300 years. This didn’t set well with the Jew haters in the Church, so by the fourth century the Catholic Bishop Augustine came up with Amillennialism (A=No, hence Nomillennialism).

The following is a pertinent excerpt from an internet article on the Bible.org webpage: “The importance of Augustine to the history of amillennialism is derived from two reasons.

First, there are no acceptable exponents of amillennialism before Augustine, who wrote in the 4th century AD. Prior to Augustine, amillennialism was associated with the heresies produced by the allegorizing and spiritualizing school of theology at Alexandria which not only opposed premillennialism but subverted any literal exegesis of Scripture whatever. Few modern theologians even of liberal schools of thought would care to build upon the theology of such men as Clement of Alexandria, Origen or Dionysius. Augustine is, then, the first theologian of solid influence who adopted amillenniumism. (Editor’s comment – knote that tjhough Akugustine rejected the allegorical interpretation of all Scripture, he used the allegorical interpretation when it came to eschatology iin general and the book of Revelation in particular).

The second reason for the importance of Augustinian amillennialism is that his viewpoint became the prevailing doctrine of the Roman Church, and it was adopted with variations by most of the Protestant Reformers. The writings of Augustine, in fact, occasioned the shelving of premillennialism by most of the organized church.

The horrible consequence of this “unity” of Christians in holding on to amillennialism is the doctrine called “Replacement Theology,” which maintains that when the old nation Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah and had Him crucified that:

  • God forever cut off His relationship with the Jews and the nation Israel;
  • The Church replaced them as God’s chosen people;
  • All the unfulfilled promises of blessing to the Jews or the nation Israel were transferred to the Church;
  • The Jews are enemies of God and are labeled Christ-killers;
  • The current nation Israel has no right to exist and is trying to usurp the status of God’s chosen people which has been transferred to the Church.
  • None of which is true. Romans chapters 9-11 and countless other scriptures make that very plain.

Is it any wonder that anti-semetism and anti-Israel activism is so prevalent and growing? We, as individual Christians, and all churches better be loving the Jews and the current nation Israel. They are still protected by the Abrahamic Covenant, “I (God) will make you (Abraham) a great nation (Israel); I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the fa2:2, 30)

Example Two-The Prosperity Doctrine or Theology. The article on this subject in Wikipedia gives the gist of this doctrine. It is quoted below with minor editing for brevity.

Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success)  is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.

The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be happy. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession.

It was during the Healing Revivals of the 1950s that prosperity theology first came to prominence in the United States. The prosperity teaching later figured prominently in the Word of Faith movement and 1980s televangelism. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was adopted by influential leaders in the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements in the United States and has spread throughout the world.

Prominent leaders in the development of prosperity theology include E. W. Kenyon, Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen, Robert Tilton, T. L. Osborn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Murdock, Reverend Ike and Kenneth Hagin.”

American Christians, raised in the atmosphere of the “American Dream,” were pre-conditioned to accept this doctrine of greed and covetousness (Col. 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”).

As more and more Christians were persuaded of this false interpretation of Scripture, and became unified in promoting it, as the article said, “It spread throughout the world.” Like a cancer, I might add! It only took a partial, though significant, unity from inside Christianity to cause this disaster!

Right now (March 4, 2017) thousands of professing Christians and their pastors are striving for unity in the religious world:

  • Unity between Protestants and Catholics;
  • Unity with muslims (Chrislam);
  • Unity with all religions, don’t they all lead to the same place?

The trouble with all such unity is that it is accomplished at the cost of truth, a terrible cost indeed when we note John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

So, is unity a good thing? Per the discussion above, it depends:

  • Among born again Christians, unity that is not at the cost of truth is great, and is God’s intention;
  • Among born again Christians, unity at the expense of truth is terrible, and God forbids it;
  • Among those who are not God’s people, unity is often catastrophic.
]]>
http://www.thchapel.org/2017/03/05/is-unity-a-good-thing/feed/ 1 2841
Lament of a Mini-goat http://www.thchapel.org/2017/02/26/lament-of-a-mini-goat/ Sun, 26 Feb 2017 16:12:21 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2839 Lament of a Mini-goat
Maxi-Grandpa Peters

It all began with a horse named Happy,
Whose disposition was actually very scrappy.
A thoroughbred, retired from racing,
A handsome horse but always pacing.
Annie thought she knew his need,
And suggested they buy another steed.
Her folks declined and said that such
Would end up eating way too much.

What to do, the family wondered?
Till on a plan they finally blundered.
Since horses and goats get along well,
Let’s find some owners who will sell.
They soon got back with two mini-goats,
With different names and different coats,
Parker, black and white, Mary Jane a loss-
But don’t feel sorry for her, she was the BOSS!

Happy was better, at least not the same,
Though he never, ever lived up to his name.
The goats did their duty, helped Happy a lot,
And had time to climb every rock on the plot.
But Parker wasn’t equipped to give Mary Jane a kid,
Maybe that’s why her health went into a skid.
She died and went off to that heavenly place,
Leaving Parker very alone, needing God’s grace.

A mare friend of Happy’s came and went,
And then a cute mini-horse was sent.
Happy, mini-horse and Parker, animals three,
Now comprised the Torok menagerie.
After the passage of considerable time,
The work and expense made no reason or rhyme.
So Happy and mini-horse were shipped off to their fate,
And poor, lonesome Parker left inside the gate.

He and I are a lot alike, long lives since we left our mothers,
And both left behind by our significant-others.
We both move slowly and love our rest,
But isn’t that what all senior citizens do best?
But Parker is a goat and I am a sheep
And I have a Shepherd when my ways are steep.
His blessings on my life just can not be told,
While I wait on earth till His face I behold.

Thank you, Jesus.
But what about Parker?

]]>
2839
Mundane Ministries http://www.thchapel.org/2017/02/15/mundane-ministries/ Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:04:52 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2837 The dictionary defines the word “mundane,” an adjective, thus: (1) of or pertaining to the world, and (2) noting or pertaining to the everyday concerns of this world rather than to spiritual matters.

During my sixty-one years as a pastor, or Minister of the Gospel, the bulk of my ministering may have been in spiritual matters, but a significant portion was in the everyday concerns of this world, of which I now speak.

Mundane Ministries in Mexico
Our son, Steve, in preparation for a full-time Christian vocation, was pursuing a Bible degree at Azusa Pacific University. Carolyn Koons was one of his professors heading up APU’s Mission Outreach Department. Steve was a favorite of Carolyn’s, and headed up the missionary oriented Student Chapel. Alva, my dear departed wife, and I got acquainted with Carolyn through Steve, and hit it off right away.

Carolyn was starting a short-term missionary outreach for the APU students during Easter Festival in Mexicali, Mexico. She invited Alva to go with her on the first venture, to lend moral support and practical help. It was a great success, and plans for the next year were expanded to include youth groups from various churches in addition to APU students (a device for recruiting new students).

So Alva and I and the Chapel’s youth group headed for Mexicali on the second outreach. Lillian Roque (Ruth Benning’s sister), together with her other sister, Bea, and her husband, met us in Mexicali and were our interpreters. We were assigned to a little church to conduct vacation Bible school type ministry during the day (where I was not really needed) and evangelistic services each evening (where I was totally involved).

The dear Mexican Pastor of the little church approached me during the day with one of our interpreters. He explained that he had a problem with the front doors of the sanctuary and wondered if I could help him. I followed him to take a look and found that the front entrance was a double door, both of which had sagged so badly that they could be closed only with great effort and loud scraping. I told him I would be glad to fix the problem if I could borrow his saw. He explained that he didn’t have a saw, that only a carpenter would have a saw. I told him I would see what I could do. Back at camp for supper, I asked around and found one person who had a wood chisel, and another who had a hammer, but no saws.

The next day I told him I would do my best with the hammer and chisel. I took the doors off their hinges, drew lines across the bottom of each door where I wanted to cut, took a deep breath, and started to chisel off, one inch at a time (the width of the chisel – and not very sharp). What should have taken ten minutes with the proper tool took hours with the chisel, but I finally got both doors shortened and hung them back on their hinges. The Pastor tried them out and was overjoyed, grinning from ear to ear and acting like he had just won the lottery. I guess it gave the church a little more credibility (versus the magnificent doors on the Catholic churches and cathedrals).

The only thing he would like better than the doors would be if he could marry Lillian. He was single, and fell in love at first sight, asking her to marry him and stay there in Mexico, but Lillian for some reason declined. We teased her a lot about that whole scenario.

Anyway, after that experience I always took enough basic tools to insure an easier outcome on any needs I encountered.

Another year, at a different church, I again had a door issue to solve. The Pastor led me outside to the back of the church and behold, two ramshackle, one-person outhouses stood close together. Ordinarily, that would be a deluxe situation – two outhouses! The issue? There was only one door – and it wasn’t attached to either outhouse. If the door was leaning against one of the doorposts as you approached, you looked into both outhouses to see which was the cleanest and had a catalog or something there, you picked up the door and backed into that outhouse and carried out your business while somehow keeping the door between you and public view. If you approached and the door was in use you had a decision to make. I figured that in a practical sense the church had one outhouse by day and two outhouses (sort of) by night. But I digress.

After several days and several trips around town I bought plywood for another door, hinges for two doors, a locking device for two doors, and two paper holders, and installed them. My wonderful Mexican- American translators sadly observed that they would soon be stolen. Oh well, I did what I could.

The Azusa Pacific University’s Mexicali Outreach grew by leaps and bounds until several thousand persons would attend each Easter Festival. The Church at the HQ village in Mexicali had no facilities to properly handle the food for such a bunch. They particularly needed a walk-in refrigerator for storage of perishables. Carolyn asked me if I could design the facility and bring down a team during the summer to build it. There was enough room in an existing building for it which provided an existing concrete floor and roof. One of the Chapel’s parishioners worked at our local SaveMart. He told me they were modifying their walk-in refrigerator and thought they would give us the big insulated double door from the old unit. I asked them and they kindly gave them to us. I designed the room around the doors with heavily insulated walls and ceiling. They could buy ice in Mexicali, so cooling was to be furnished by buying ice and putting it on racks with a big fan to blow over the ice and around the room. This eliminated the high cost of a refrigeration system that would only be used once a year. Carolyn ordered the lumber and insulation and had it waiting for us on the site. The team and I arrived with the two gift doors (another door project) and we went to work. It looked great, but would it work? The next Easter festival they found out – it was great. It has served their needs for many years and I think it is still in use.

Alva and I led a Chapel team to the APU outreach for fifteen years or more. At first we were assigned to a different church each year. But then we settled on a church in the village of Chiapas Dos and became closely knit with them. It was usually very hot when we were there, and our youth were pretty stinky after a day of activity with the local kids. So I built a shower on the outside wall of the Pastor’s house with solar heated water. Our team members could rotate showers so they could get a turn every other day. We were thus a little more couth for the evening services.

The little church building was on the Pastor’s property, out in the sticks, and few people were within walking distance. A big subdivision was opening up about a mile and half away, so the Pastor bought a couple of lots on which to build a bigger church surrounded by a lot of people. Our older male youth committed to work each time we went to Mexicali, and myself and other adults agreed to make trips to help build the new church. The Chapel sent monthly offerings to help buy materials. At the next APU outreach we laid out the slab floor/footings. The locals would dig the footing trenches, level the floor space, and put in the outside forms. A team would come down before the next outreach and pour the foundation and floor. The team turned out to be Jim Harrison and me – pretty small team. But Jim was in the concrete business and I was quite knowledgeable and experienced also. We thought we could do it, though Jim could not take his power-trowel because there was no electricity yet.

When we arrived we were glad to see that the locals had done their job, so with a few refinements we were ready. Jim and I and the Pastor went to the transit mix plant and arranged for the concrete to be delivered the next day. We told them that we were the only two workers so they should space the three trucks well apart. When they arrived the next day at the appointed time, all three trucks came at once. We were aghast, and protested strongly. The foreman told us it was OK. They had felt sorry for us with just two workers, so had brought their new pumper to help us out, free of charge. They would empty all three trucks in a hurry. Wrong!

The pumper had no hydraulic power to handle the hose, it had to be manhandled. The hose was smaller in diameter to make this possible. They had never used it yet, and didn’t know you had to pump a clay slurry through first to lubricate the hose. So, when they started it up, the pumper only half-filled the hose and stalled. Now they had a hose with concrete stuck in it, the hopper of the pumper was full of concrete that it wouldn’t pump out and was getting hard fast. We fooled around with them for a while, then Jim and I told them to start unloading the other two trucks and we would hand spread it and their own men could try to clean out the pumper and hose.

It was hot, the concrete was setting up fast, difficult to rake and screed, already needing to be troweled. We were both sweating like pigs. There was enough concrete even though part of the first truck was wasted, but we were exhausted and the whole 25 x 40 foot floor had to be hand troweled. We had to temper (add water to) the concrete in order to smooth it with our trowels. I think there was a somewhat continuous “Help us, Jesus!” going on the whole time. We both thought we were going to die as missionaries in a foreign land.

Amazingly, the floor ended up being acceptable. We ended up being completely zonked out. If I remember right, we didn’t have time to be angry with the concrete truck foreman – after all, his intentions were good. So we didn’t have to forgive him. By the next morning we had recovered, and laid two courses of concrete blocks around the perimeter before we left for home.

When the next APU outreach rolled around, Alva and I parked our ministry travel trailer next to the new church building. The locals had finished the block walls and I could work on the building while the Chapel team did the VBS at the old church. The Pastor had built a little store on the new property, so I hooked the trailer up to an outlet on the store. I noticed a little tingle when I grabbed the doorknob of the trailer. I asked the Pastor if he had any electrical problems in the store. He said that people had complained about getting shocks when opening the door on the store. I got out my multi-meter and checked the polarity at the meter box. It was reversed. At that time there was no inspection by the electric company (owned by the government) or anyone else. Whoever hooked up his electricity for him had not put in a ground rod, and had hooked the hot wire from the pole to the ground wire of the store. Fortunately, no one was electrocuted. There was no way for me to turn off the power from the pole, so I very gingerly corrected the hookup with the feed being hot. Whew!

It would be a couple of years before the new church was finished. The old church on the Pastor’s property is still going, with meetings on Saturday. The new church meets on Sunday. The old Pastor is gone, but his daughter and son-in-law keep both works going.

One of our families had a foster daughter named Terry, a fine Christian girl. She had a calling from God to be a missionary to Mexico, and was enrolled in a Spanish language Bible institute in La Puente, CA. Before she graduated she had learned to speak Spanish and met a student from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, named Chago. Terry and Chago soon married, and moved to his home town as missionaries. The missions organization that sent them was building an elaborate Gospel center there. Chago, being a Mexican citizen, was put in charge of the project. Chago knew me through Terry, and was aware that I did considerable construction related work. His sending Mission was preparing a work team to go down to San Luis Potosi and work on the project. He asked me if I could go to help in the areas none of the team members were familiar with. The Chapel allowed them to borrow me for a couple of weeks, and off I went. I worked with the team in various ways on the project. Chago asked me if I would stay on for another week as he had a special project that needed doing. It was OK with the Chapel, so the team went back and I would fly home after finishing the project.

Terry and Chago were living in a nearly finished building on the complex. One of the things that wasn’t finished was the bathroom, which still lacked a door. They had an opaque cloth hung over the opening, but kept having embarrassing situations as the cloth could not be locked. (Oh-oh, another door project.) If he had spoken sooner, we could have bought the door and I could have hung it before the team left and gone home with them. But that was the problem, he couldn’t buy a door. The metal doorframe they had used with the masonry construction was an odd size, and he wanted me to build the door to that odd size. I told him that with the few tools we had between us that I could probably make a slab door, though it was easier said than done. I measured the frame carefully and we went to buy the materials – which also turned out to be easier said than done. At that time you had to go to a different store for everything. We went to one store and got a couple of sheets of thin plywood for the faces. We went to lumber yard where they planed the frame material to my specifications from rough lumber. We went to another store for the hinges and lockset. We went to another store for paint. The bare wood needed to be primed and then painted with an oil-base white paint. They had the paint, but no primer. I asked Chago if they had any turpentine, thinking I could add some to the paint and that would give better penetration like a primer would. The clerk didn’t understand turpentine, no matter how I asked it through Chago’s interpretation. In desperation I said it was made by destructive distillation of coniferous wood. If you can believe it, his face lit up and he rushed to get a sample. I gave it the smell test, and voila, it was the right stuff. Somewhere along the line we found some glue and we were off to make a door. It turned out quite well, and after a difficult installation, it was finished, and the troops were overjoyed.

Chago found a flight for two days later, and said he wanted to show me around the city the next day. We ended up the tour at a park just below the dam which provided the water supply for the city, so we climbed a steep path to walk cross the dam. It was big, and 200 feet above the downstream elevation. The dam was beautiful, and the railing along the edge was fancy stonework. To my utter amazement, about half way across, fifty feet or so of railing was missing! No warning signs, no temporary barriers, no nothing. I asked him how long it had been missing. He didn’t know, it had been that way as long as he knew anything about it. I couldn’t believe it. In the States, someone would be hung by their thumbs if that was allowed. He said the authorities figured the parents knew enough to keep their kids away from the edge. It was too expensive to replace.

Mundane Ministries in the Chapel Area
The above lengthy account covers events that occurred in Mexico over a period of a little over fifteen years, but took only about twenty weeks of time all together.
In contrast, the local mundane ministries described in a couple of paragraphs below were a continuum which began in 1955 and extended till 2011, when I could no longer drive because of my failing eyesight (fifty-six years versus twenty weeks).

The incidents were even more mundane. All kinds of carpenter work, plumbing repairs, unclogging sewers, electrical repairs or additions, seeing that houses could be securely locked, repairs on furniture, appliances, even cars, helping move, getting wood for those who heated with it and countless other things. Much of this work was done for single moms. I usually became aware of needs in the course of pastoral calls at parishioner’s homes. Or Alva would hear about needs in her extensive phone ministry and send me off to help.

I was sometimes criticized by other pastors for this mundane work, but I found it to be of spiritual benefit. The people served felt they were cared for by the church family. Their friends would take note, and come to the Chapel. It proved to be an evangelistic tool. It was a good way for me to get better acquainted with the Chapel members.

The bonus in it all was that I loved doing that sort of ministry.

]]>
2837
Eli’s Fatal Flaw http://www.thchapel.org/2017/02/11/elis-fatal-flaw/ Sat, 11 Feb 2017 21:56:04 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2825 Once upon a time there was an important man named Eli (actually it was about 3170 years ago, at which time he was ninety-eight years old, and blind). Eli had a lot going for him :

  • His name, Eli, means “God is High”;
  • He was a descendant of Israel’s original High Priest, Aaron, through Aaron’s fourth son, Ithamar;
  • He was himself the High Priest at the Tabernacle, which had been pitched for the last time at Shiloh, a city located about thirty miles north of Jerusalem. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served under him as priests;
  • Eli had served as High Priest at Shiloh for forty years;
  • Eli recognized that sexual morality was incumbent upon all priests (more about this later);
  • He expected that God’s people would live moral lives as demonstrated by his words to Hannah (Samuel’s mother) in 1 Samuel 1:12-16, “And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!’ And Hannah answered and said, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.’”
  • Eli had considerable authority and confidence before the Lord as evidenced by his reply to Hannah, 1 Sam. 1:17-20, “Then Eli answered and said, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.’ And she said, ‘Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.’ So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked for him from the LORD.’”
  • This authority and confidence was demonstrated again after Samuel was born, weaned, given to the Lord, and had lived with and served Eli for some time, 1 Sam. 2:18-21a, “But Samuel ministered before the LORD, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod. Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘The LORD give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the LORD.’ Then they would go to their own home. And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.
  • Eli had a genuine belief in and awe of the Jehovah-God who “dwelt” between the cherubim on the ark of the covenant, over which he was the titular guardian. This can be deduced from the following scenario. Israel was attacked by the Philistines, whom God used as a judgment upon Israel during Eli’s last days. On the first day of battle the Philistines killed about four thousand men of Israel. We read what happened next in 1 Sam. 4:3, 4, “And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, ‘Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.’ So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.” This superstitious ploy didn’t work, and the next day the Phillistines killed thirty-thousand soldiers of Israel, Eli’s two sons, and captured the ark of the covenant. 1 Samuel 4:12, 13, tell us what happened next, “Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out.’ Yes, Eli had a lot going for him. But what happened?
  • 1 Samuel 4:14-18, “When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, ‘What does the sound of this tumult mean?’ And the man came quickly and told Eli. Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see. Then the man said to Eli, ‘I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line.’ And he said, ‘What happened, my son?’ So the messenger answered and said, ‘Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.’ Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

We have rehearsed all those things that Eli had going for him, yet disaster struck! Why was this? Eli had a fatal flaw! We will have to go back and do some detective work. One clue is contained in the last bullet item above – Eli was heavy. Bearing this in mind, we need to know about Eli’s sons.

1 Sam. 2:12-17, “Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD. And the priests’ custom with the people was (when done properly) that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. (NIV for verse 15) But even before the fat was burned, the servant of the priest would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, ‘Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.’ And if the man said to him, ‘They should really burn the fat first (the fat was the Lord’s portion of the sacrifice); then you may take as much as your heart desires,’ he would then answer him, ‘No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force.’ Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.”

Because of this and other evil practices, God warned Eli in 1 Sam. 2:27a, 29, 31, Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people? Behold, the days are coming – – – so that there will not be an old man in your house.’” Now we have two clues:

  • Eli was heavy;
  • Eli and his sons were making themselves fat by improper and excessive consumption of their meat allotment.

Eli confronted his sons about their misconduct as we read in 1 Sam. 2:22-25, “Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD’S people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?’ Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.”

After some years God spoke again to Eli, this time through a night vision to Samuel. 1 Samuel 3:1, 10-15, “Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. Now the LORD came and stood and called – – – – , ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for Your servant hears.’ Then the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever. So Samuel lay down until morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision.” Eli called Samuel and insisted that he tell him exactly what God had said. 1 Samuel 3:18, “Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, ‘It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.’”

Notice the underlined words above, Eli knew of his son’s wickedness, but though he confronted them and had the authority to restrain them, he didn’t do so. Here is the third clue as to Eli’s fatal flaw:

  • He failed to restrain his son’s wickedness.

Aha! I believe we can pin down Eli’s fatal flaw by asking a question, and then answering it:

  • Question – Why didn’t Eli restrain his son’s wickedness?
  • Answer – Because Eli loved the illicit roasted meat complete with the fat, and was unwilling to give it up. Thus he was partaker with his sons in their wickedness regarding the sacrifices, though not in their other wickedness.

God’s judgment that came upon Eli, his sons, his priestly descendants and the nation of Israel , previously covered at the end of page one and the bulk of page two, certainly merit the use of the word “fatal” in the phrase, Eli’s Fatal Flaw:

  • The last days of Eli’s life were not joyful, but in trembling fear for the ark of God, which the army of Israel had taken to their battle site with the Philistines;
  • After Israel’s defeat, a runner came with the news;
  • After losing four-thousand men on the first day of the battle, Israel’s army lost thirty-thousand more on the second and final day;
  • Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed, neither of whom knew the Lord;
  • The Philistines had captured the ark of God. When Eli heard this he fell backward off his seat, broke his neck and died;
  • Eli’s descendants in the priesthood all died early deaths.

We never know to what extent our fatal flaw may cause disaster to befall us and/or others.

We all sin, but to prevent it from becoming a fatal flaw we need to respond immediately to the Spirit’s conviction by:

  • Repenting (with the Spirit’s help turning from the sin);
  • Confessing our sin to God;
  • Receiving His forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness.

Thank God for 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!”

]]>
2825
Hard To Kill http://www.thchapel.org/2017/01/27/2817/ http://www.thchapel.org/2017/01/27/2817/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2017 17:29:33 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2817 I was the first of two sons born to Clarence H. Peters and Marjorie M. Peters. They were both from families that were characterized by longevity. My mother passed away at the age of ninety, at which time my father was ninety-five.

My father sold their house, and moved into a care-home at which he had worked for many years as bookkeeper/accountant as a second career. He was still ambulatory, but was very compromised as to vision and hearing. Without my mother to keep him company he was pretty miserable.

One day when I was visiting him he was sharing that he wanted to die and be with my mother, but, he complained, “We Peterses are hard to kill!” He was right, but at ninety-seven he fell, broke his hip, survived the surgery, but died of congestive heart failure the next day without regaining consciousness.

Alas, I have the same problem. I am closing on ninety-seven, Alva has been with Jesus since June 9, 2013, and here I am being a Peters who is proving to be hard to kill, wanting to be with Jesus also. I’m thankful that I am in good health, feel good, have enough eyesight and hearing to have my own apartment, and am able to enjoy a bit of pastoral ministry in the Chapel while I wait for my name to be called. Hallelujah!

But, alas again, after being a serious Christian for sixty-eight years, sixty-one of which have been as a pastor, I still have a killing problem! My old-nature, which the Bible ordered me to put to death, though weakened, still lurks in hidden crannies of my persona, anxious to cooperate with the devil to make me stumble.

Old nature! So what am I talking about? The dictionary defines the word “nature” (as applied to humans) with this primary meaning: the particular combination of qualities belonging to a person by birth. The secondary meaning: the instincts or inherent tendencies directing conduct.

As created, Adam and Eve had an innocent nature which produced a loving relationship with each other and a loving, obedient relationship between each of them and God. Their natures were inclined towards God. But let’s review the Bible’s creative statement in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” As a pure spirit being, God had no body, so “in His own image” had nothing to do with their bodies, or them being male and female. Instead, it had to do with their personhood. God was a person. Adam and Eve were persons. Personhood consists of will, intellect and emotion. The appearance of God to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was what we call an anthropomorphism, a deity appearing in the form of a human for purposes of communication and/or fellowship.

Alas, first Eve, and then Adam, in the exercise of their free will, when tempted by the devil in the guise of a serpent, chose to disobey God. By this rebellion, sin entered the human race. Their innocent natures, which were inclined towards God, were now inclined towards sin. Their natures had suffered a terrible fall, which awful event has ever since been known as The Fall, and the post-innocent nature has been called the fallen-nature. The extent of this calamity is demonstrated by the fact that every human born since Adam and Eve’s fall have inherited that fallen-nature, including you and me! Woe!!

Besides fallen-nature, the post-innocence nature is called the sin-nature and the old-nature. All of these are Christian lingo (not from the Bible, except the NIV uses sinful-nature) but are used because they are so descriptive. In the New Testament the expression “old man” is used in Ephesians 4:20-24, “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Thus we have come across an important doctrine. When we become a Christian, our old, sinful nature is not removed or destroyed. Instead we are given a new nature, created in true righteousness and holiness. Oh-oh! Doesn’t that lead to internal conflict? Yes, the Bible predicts it, and anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time has experienced it.

Before we look at that prediction, let us note that the word most commonly used by the Bible for the fallen-sinful-old-nature is “flesh.” I suppose this is so because “the flesh” moves us to the improper use of or emphasis on some normal bodily function or mental process, per Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”Regarding the predicted internal conflict, go back to Galatians 5:16,17, RSV, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.” Note several things about this passage:

  • The “new man” (new nature) is identified as the Spirit (the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in every true believer (Christian). Hooray!
  • The desires of the flesh (the devil’s fifth column in every human) are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh –always opposed to each other.
  • Thus we Christians are continually coming to a fork in the road with one route labeled “Walk by the Spirit” and the other “Gratify the desires of the flesh.” We have to exercise our will, and choose which route to take.
  • The instructions are plain: Walk by (follow) the Spirit! Do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Other Scriptures giving the same instructions but put in different terms:

  • In Ephesians 4:20-24, previously cited, we were instructed to “put off” the old man (flesh, or sinful nature) and “put on” the new man (new nature or Spirit).
  • Romans 8:5, 6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, (set their minds on) the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
  • And the terms best describing the ultimate goal, Galatians 5:24, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” We are to put to death the old man, aka the flesh or the sinful nature, by crucifying it – nailing it to the cross and leaving it to die. An execution by crucifixion was a slow death, usually requiring two or three days, apropos to the title of this essay, Hard to Kill.

I have already confessed that after being a Christian for sixty-eight years I am still trying to administer the coup de grace to my sinful nature. Let me tell you an amusing story about the tough job it is to crucify the sinful nature.

During my twenty-nine years as Senior Pastor at the Chapel I attended free Monday-through-Friday Pastor’s Conferences at Hume Lake Campgrounds east of Fresno. One year the son of William R. Newell (who wrote the well known hymn, “At Calvary”) ministered to us in both music and Bible study. The day he taught Bible his subject was “The Need For and Difficulty of Crucifying the Sinful Nature.” I still remember the illustration he gave of that difficulty.

It seems he was raised on a farm with dogs, chickens, pigs, cows and maybe other animals about, but no horses. He was consumed from his childhood with a love for horses and the desire to have one of his own. Year after year he pleaded for a horse, but his father said no. When he finally got into high-school, still pestering his dad for a horse, his father was worn out, and reluctantly gave his permission – with iron-clad conditions:

  • He would have to earn the money to buy the horse;
  • He would have to earn the money for all the expenses of having the horse, purchasing tack, buying feed, paying for any vet fees for sickness or shots, or whatever;
  • He would be totally responsible for all labor required related to the horse;
  • To all of which he agreed without reservation, and finally bought his horse. A dream come true!

Alas, after a few months, the horse got sick and died. His dad, in a gesture of sympathy, walked out to the tool shed and returned, handing his son a shovel, and left. He didn’t give us all the details, but it went something like this:

  • There he stood, with his dead horse lying on the ground, and a shovel in his hand;
  • With a sigh, and remembering his iron-clad contract with his dad, he began to dig;
  • Eventually, the hole was in the ground, the horse was in the hole, and the backfill covered the horse – barely;
  • The next morning, horrors, unknown wild animals had dug down to the carcass and eaten their fill and left the mess to him. Back to the shovel. He had to fill it back up and mound some more dirt on it to foil any further intrusions;
  • The next morning the dogs had dug down and were still eating.His beloved horse was now smelling pretty bad. I don’t remember if any unChristianlike expletives came to the surface or not, but he dutifully filled it back up and mounded it a bit more;
  • Guess what? The next morning revealed that the pigs, smelling what to them was a ripening repast, had dug down and eaten their fill. One consolation, the carcass had been eaten and decayed down to a considerable depth, and his tamped down backfill was finally sufficient. After much difficulty, his horse was dead and disposed of – whew!

At this point I need to get off the “alas mode” (that my sinful nature is not completely dead yet) to the “HALLELUJAH MODE” (that it is a lot deader than it was when I first become a Christian).

Sure, struggling to put to death some facet of our sinful nature can be tough, but when we cooperate with the Spirit, in due time victory over that facet will come. Note some good things about this whole process:

  • We are usually only struggling against one facet of our sinful nature at a time;
  • Final victory (wining the war) over some facet comes after winning a number of battles, with probably a few losing battles along the way;
  • Each battle won provides its own reward, the joy of pleasing Jesus and sensing His presence more;
  • Even each loss isn’t all bad. We feel shame for letting Jesus down, but we repent, confess the sin, and receive Jesus’ forgiveness and cleansing, 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We immediately feel better and are reinforced to do better on the next battle;
  • When the war is won, that facet usually doesn’t tempt us anymore, and we are one step closer to Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” We will be more like Jesus, more pleasing to God, feel better about ourselves, and be more attractive to our family and friends – pretty good, eh?
  • Then the Spirit shows us the next facet to address;
  • This process is called sanctification, 1 Thes. 4:3, 4, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own body in sanctification and honor.” The dominant idea of the Greek and Hebrew words rendered sanctification is separation from the secular and sinful and setting apart for a sacred purpose.

The rise of the holiness movement attested to the desire to extricate Christians from this seemingly painful process. John Wesley came up with the interpretation of sanctification as a “second definite work of grace,” salvation being the first definite work of grace. After salvation, by means of seeking after God through Bible reading, prayer and other spiritual exercises one received sanctification in one fell swoop, which consisted of removing the sinful nature and arriving at a state of sinless perfection. A dear Christian lady I knew who was from a holiness denomination and professed to have attained this exalted state admitted that she and others like her still made “mistakes,” but could not sin. We differed in our theology, but we dearly respected each other. In today’s United States the Wesleyans, Free Methodists and Nazarenes are holiness denominations that come to mind.

My own testimony after sixty-eight years of being a Christian is that regardless of the struggles to crucify the sinful nature, I never experienced the slightest feeling that it wasn’t worth it all. Even here on this sin cursed earth, being a Christian has always been to me far better than anything the world had to offer. Can you imagine how much better still it will be when we are with Jesus in Heaven? GLORY!

]]>
http://www.thchapel.org/2017/01/27/2817/feed/ 1 2817
The Great Escape http://www.thchapel.org/2016/12/17/the-great-escape/ Sun, 18 Dec 2016 04:53:58 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2812 Who doesn’t long to escape at times? Especially to escape hard things? Is it hard to deny the flesh and obey the Lord? Yes, but be encouraged. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way of escape. 1Corinthians 10:13 NIV

What is the way of escape? Does it differ depending on circumstances? On the type of temptation? Sounds complicated…maybe the Lord has made it simple? Perhaps the bottom line is that he himself is the way of escape, every time! Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18 NIV

If we claim to follow Jesus Christ, then we must follow his example. Directly after his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil. Luke 4:1-2 NIV

There are some people who walk daily led by the Spirit, not fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16. They are faithful examples and Sword Masters.

There are those who used to wield their swords but have grown weary and discouraged. May you be encouraged to dust off your swords and return to the way of the Master.

Finally, there are those to whom this concept is a new “thing”, (yep, it’s a real “thing), who do not know how to walk in the victory Jesus Christ has already secured! Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 Holman Christian Standard Version

So for those 40 days of temptation in the desert, what did Jesus do? He went straight to the Word of God. “It is written…” Luke 4:4, 8, 10, 12 We then are to go straight to the Word of God. Blessed are we to have
1) the Word of God Incarnate, Jesus Christ: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 NIV
2) The Word of God, the Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Berean Study Bible
3) The Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance…. Ephesians 6:17-18 HCSB

So, to deal with temptation, to find the way of escape that God has provided, is to go straight to Jesus Christ and his Word. He IS the way of escape, every time!

Satisfying the desires of the flesh – doing what we want to do – is the easy way out of temptation/struggles, but is not the way out that God faithfully provides. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NIV For if men are controlled by their earthly natures, they give their minds to earthly things. If they are controlled by their spiritual natures, they give their minds to spiritual things. Romans 8:5 Weymouth New Testament

How do we do this? How did Jesus do this? Just as we become physically stronger by eating healthy food and pushing ourselves to exercise regularly, so it is with our spirits. Which nature will we feed and strengthen? With self-discipline, we learn to wield our swords, to use them quickly and effectively, and with increasing endurance.

Jesus, in the desert, showed persistence. He never varied in his tactic. He used Scripture. James 4:7-8 says to humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. New Living Translation

Is it hard? Uh, yeah! Is it do-able? Uh, yeah! As we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, praying that the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, minds and hearts to what we read in his Word, we are more desirous of, and capable of, choosing God’s way of escape from temptation. We learn Scripture, and then have Scripture to even speak aloud, to declare God’s attributes, who he is and what he has done. We are able to say No!” to our own willfulness, to temptation, “No!” to the devil, and “Yes!” to the Lord. When we recall to mind or speak aloud his Word, we focus on our stronghold, our strength and refuge, and the victory – Jesus Christ. He comes close to us as we fix our eyes on him. This I declare about the Lord: he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust Him. Psalm 91:2 NLT …The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 NIV Let’s grab our swords, sisters and brothers!

God has done so much! Contemplate Christmas, the initiation of the physical demonstration of the Tempter’s total defeat! Christ the Babe, fully divine and fully human, growing, facing every temptation we face, defeating Satan by Christ’s death and resurrection; Jesus secured our victory, and is our way of escape in every temptation. Ultimately, he’s our way of escape from the wrath of God. The Great Escape – hallelujah! Glorious Good News!

]]>
2812
Two Mandates http://www.thchapel.org/2016/11/19/two-mandates/ http://www.thchapel.org/2016/11/19/two-mandates/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 23:21:27 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2805 On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the voters of the United States of America, in electing Donald Trump as our next President, mandated a drastic change in our direction.

I believe that this was the mercy of God, giving an undeserving nation one more chance to turn back to Him.

For this to happen, I believe that a second mandate has been laid on the True Church, for immediate action, by God Himself! (“True” Church, because so much of the professing church today is apostate, and rapidly getting worse).

I believe, true-church-brethren, that the second mandate for us is to mount an immediate, massive, fervent PRAYER EVENT that will last until God has firmly established the new administration on His pathway.

President-elect Trump has made a good start in several ways:

  • In victory he has humbled himself in demeanor and rhetoric (PRAY that this will continue and improve);
  • He has quietly reached out to former adversaries and all Americans to help him strive for unity (PRAY that this will continue and improve);
  • He has appointed Vice-president-elect Gov. Mike Pence (a dedicated Christian) to head up the transition team (PRAY for him to have wisdom and guidance from God in carrying out this great responsibility and that he will be used to give a strong spiritual dimension to the new administration).

This is a good start. Now for some extremely important specifics:

  • Pray for the safety of all the principals in the new administration, particularly Donald Trump himself. There are hordes of enraged fanatics who might try to assassinate him;
  • Pray that every cabinet member and other presidential appointee will be the right person for the job in God’s sight;
  • Pray that his personal advisor and other presidential staff selected will be extremely capable and able to help him make the correct decisions;
  • Pray that the President-elect may absorb, understand and remember all the classified information he is being briefed on;
  • Pray that he will be able to truly leave his huge business empire to the charge of his family, and be able to shift his mind-set to the national and international affairs of our country;
  • Pray that he can establish a good rapport with the leaders and members of both houses of congress, including many democrats, even before his inauguration.

Our soon-to-be-President has listed a number of things he expects to do in those “first-hundred-days” after he is sworn in, about which we should pray. Here are a few that seem important to me:

  • Pray that as the President he will recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of only one country, Israel;
  • Pray that he will set in motion the moving of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem;
  • Pray that he will undo the harmful executive orders of ex-president Obama, particularly those concerning national security and our immigration policy;
  • Pray that he will make executive orders to maximize security until the whole immigration policy can be changed by congress;
  • Pray as he chooses a new Supreme Court justice.

We need to have a new list before the end of the first hundred days to continue our prayer vigil on through the new administration.

]]>
http://www.thchapel.org/2016/11/19/two-mandates/feed/ 1 2805
The Need For Revival http://www.thchapel.org/2016/11/06/the-need-for-revival/ Sun, 06 Nov 2016 19:34:10 +0000 http://www.thchapel.org/?p=2794 That paper was largely given over to describing good things that are happening in the Christianity of developing (sometimes called third-world) countries.

A description of the bad things happening in the Christianity of developed countries was limited to the following paragraph:

“As to Christianity in developed nations, it is healthy and fruitful only here and there (Thank God for these healthy spots, or ‘remnants’), and elsewhere it is sick, getting sicker and dying or dead, just as predicted by Bible prophecy for the end times. God willing, I will address this in detail in another essay entitled ‘The Need For Revival.”

So, here goes, in fulfillment of that promise. A proper beginning probably should include the definition of Revival as called for in this piece and the identification of developed nations.

Revival-In Baker’s Dictionary of Theology we find this, “The word, Revival, carries greater force than it (generally) bears to us today, for we have confused revivalism with evangelism. Evangelism is good news; revival is new life. Evangelism is man working for God; revival is God working in a sovereign way on man’s behalf.”

It seems like the only human contribution to this kind of revival is to pray for it. Psalm 85 was written by the sons of Korah. The sixth verse goes like this, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” Note the implications:

  • The prayer was on the behalf of “Your (God’s) people;
  • As such they had physical life;
  • And had “new (spiritual) life” (a first revival) which produced in them a rejoicing in God;
  • But they had somehow backslidden and lost their joy;
  • And needed to be revived again that they might again rejoice in their God.
  • The sons of Korah prayed for the revival of God’s people. WILL WE?

This same pattern occurred in the early churches as recorded in Revelation chapters two and three:

  • The Church at Ephesus (2:1-11) had lost its first love (of Jesus), and needed to be revived;
  • The Church at Pergamos (2:12-17) tolerated immorality, idolatry and heresies, and needed to be revived;
  • The Church at Thyatira (2:18-29) tolerated a cult of idolatry and immorality, and needed to be revived;
  • The Church at Sardis (3:1-6) was a dead church and needed to be revived;
  • The Church at Laodicea (3:14-22) was a lukewarm church and needed to be revived;
  • I believe it is just as bad, or worse, today!

The identification of developed nations-(As simplified from a United Nations document): European nations; Australia; Canada; Japan; New Zealand; United States.

These are the nations that, after the protestant reformation, provided fertile ground for the growth of true Christianity (distinct from the corrupt Roman Catholic Church’s dominance for over a millennium). Salvation by grace through faith (vs by works) and having the Bible for the laity in their own language resulted in explosive growth in Christianity and spurred development, especially when combined with the industrial revolution. The United States, with its strong Christian foundation, was the capstone. In the late eighteenth century Christians began to pray about Jesus’ Great Commission. God responded and raised up William Carey, a British pastor, to launch the Modern Missionary Movement at the beginning of the nineteenth century and which is still in evidence.

So what happened to cause the developed nations to be in such bad shape as was described briefly in the first paragraphs of this paper? Here are some salient factors:

  • The fragmentation of the Church after the reformation: Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltics were Lutheran; Switzerland, Scotland and the low countries were Reformed (Calvinist); United Kingdom was Anglican (slightly modified Roman Catholicism) and some remained Catholic. All State mandated denominations have an innate disadvantage because of various unbiblical practices which diminish their spiritual power and render them vulnerable to Satanic attack.
  • The plague of materialism engendered by the industrial revolution.
  • The attacks on the Bible and Christianity engendered by modern science (especially evolution).
  • The ravages of socialism.
  • God’s judgment for anti-Semitism (Hostility to Jews, being a curse to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac by individuals, the Church and nations). This is so important that it is considered separately below.

The Abrahamic Covenant-The Judea-Christian continuum in which we live began with God’s covenant with Abraham, which was repeated in several installments to Abraham, and passed on to his son, Isaac, and then to his grandson Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) per the following Scriptures:

  • Gen. 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”
  • Gen. 26:1-5, 24, “There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’ And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.’”
  • Gen. 28:12-15, “Then he (Jacob) dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: ‘I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.’”
  • Gen. 35:9-12, “Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.’”

There are many facets to the Abrahamic Covenant which are underlined in the above Scriptures and summarized below:

  • I will make you a great nation (singular).
  • I will bless you and make your name great.
  • You shall be a blessing.
  • I will bless those who bless you.
  • I will curse him who curses you.
  • In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (by Abraham’s “seed,” Jesus, through Isaac).
  • Dwell in this land, and I (God) will be with you (Isaac) and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands.
  • In your (Isaac’s) seed (Jesus, through Jacob) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.
  • I am the LORD God of Abraham your (Jacob’s) father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
  • Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you (Israel, and in the nation to bear that name) and in your seed (Jesus, through Judah) all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
  • The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.

History is replete with examples of God’s judgment on those who attack individual Israelites or the nation Israel:

  • The attackers of Daniel’s friends died in the fiery furnace.
  • Daniel’s attackers died in the lion’s den.
  • Haman was hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai.
  • The Roman Catholic Church is a discredited shell of its former self for, among other things, labeling Jews as Christ-killers, killing thousands of them in the Crusades and institutionalizing replacement theology (teaching that the Church has replaced Israel as God’s people, and that God has no more dealings with the Jews or the nation of Israel).
  • The Protestant Church in the developed nations is badly infected by doubts from the attacks of so-called science, divorce, tolerance of abortion, immorality, the curse of the prosperity doctrine and a rapidly growing shift to replacement theology. As a result it is falling apart under the judgment of god. Europe is defined as “post-Christian.” So are Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Japan has never been Christian. The United States is rapidly becoming if not already post-Christian.
  • As to nations, Great Britain and the United States are prime examples of what happens to nations who “curse Abraham” (attack Israel). Let us enlarge on them separately below.

Great Britain entered World War I as the largest empire in the world and one of the most powerful nations. Field Marshal Edmund Allenby led the UK’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force as it captured the Holy Land from the Ottoman Turks, subsequent to which the Balfour Declaration was made. It was a letter dated November 2, 1917, from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James
“Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The text of the letter was published in the press one week later, on November 9, 1917. The “Balfour Declaration” was later incorporated into both the Sèvres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire, and the Mandate for Palestine. This is the text, “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

The business interests of the UK reacted to this Declaration as it greatly offended the Arab nations who controlled the vast oil resources of the Mideast. After years of tension in the British mandate between the Zionists, the Arab population and the UK, the UK took the matter into their own hands and released the McDonald White Paper in 1939 to outline its decisions. The very first point stated, “It is the not the will of the British to form a Jewish state in Palestine,” thus reneging on the Balfour Declaration.

The British Mandate over Palestine lasted from July 24, 1922 to May 14, 1948, during which they were unfavorable towards the Zionists (Jews) and favorable towards the Arabs. After World War II, Britain refused to allow Jewish refugees from the Holocaust to resettle in their historic homeland.Is it any wonder that Britain, though on the winning side of WW II, was:

  • Totally exhausted.
  • Terribly in debt.
  • Terribly wounded (in deaths and injuries to troops and civilians).
  • Devastated by bombings.
  • And soon having to free virtually her entire colonial empire.
  • She went from one of the world’ s preeminent nations to a third-rate county. She had been a curse to the descendants of Abraham.

What about the he United States?

  • After WW II we also had refused to receive a shipload of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust.
  • Our State Department, Defense Department and many Cabinet and other officials were against recognizing the new nation of Israel after it had been authorized by the United Nations.
  • Fortunately, President Truman defied his advisers and recognized Israel as a sovereign State immediately, thus giving us some brownie points with God. Later, President Nixon defied his advisers and helped Israel in the Yom Kippur war of 1973, perhaps giving more brownie points.
  • But thereafter Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all adversely affected Israel, Obama being by far the most openly antagonistic. I have no doubt that their actions, as the highest officials of the US, have been a major factor leading to God’s increasing judgment upon our country.

Let’s face it! America is so far from God, and the Church is so back-slidden, that the only hope for any turn for the better is a sovereign revival from God. We don’t deserve it, but God is merciful. If caring Christians will confess their sins, the sins of the Church and the sins of America, and repent, perhaps God will hear and answer our prayers. WE NEED A REVIVAL!

]]>
2794