Nobody’s Perfect

Nobodys Perfect
Have you ever heard some one say, “Oops, oh well, nobody’s perfect?” This usually follows some kind of accident or mistake. It’s a good excuse, right? After all, no one is perfect. Yet Jesus said, “You are to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48). What does this mean? We all know that God does not make mistakes. So how can we be as perfect as the Father? How can this be?

I’ve heard it explained that this is just a goal; that being perfect is not possible in this life. Really? Can you think of just one command from God that is not really a command? Commands are not suggestions! When I hear someone lessen the force of this verse, it reminds me of Genesis 3:1, where the serpent said, ” Did God really say—–?” So, the question is, “What is Jesus requiring of us here?”

Let’s first look at the word translated as perfect. Does it describe a state or quality only applicable to God, like omnipotent or eternal, or is it more like words that describe God’s character like just, faithful (reliable), merciful and holy? Qualities that are unquestionably demanded of all believers?

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is tam, meaning complete, or tamim, also meaning complete, whole or entire. The word tam is applied to Job by God in Job 1:8 where it is translated as perfect or blameless. Job was, “upright and perfect.” The word tamim is used to describe Noah in Genesis 6:9; “Noah was tamim in his time and walked with God.” The word shalom usually translated as peace means, basically, wholeness.

In the New Testament the word usually translated perfect is teleios and means complete, finished, lacking nothing, mature. James says, “Let endurance finish its work that you may be teleios and entire, lacking in nothing” (verse 1:4 ). Kind of a semi definition, I think.

In the Bible being complete, whole, or finished is the ideal state to reach.

Evangelist pastors and teachers should be working to this end: “Warning everyone and teaching everyone, with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). In Ephesians 4:12-13 we see that Jesus, Himself, gave to us evangelists, pastors, and teachers, “To equip His people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

The warning and teaching itself must be perfect, that is complete or thorough, to cover all we need to know in order that we may be complete people. Especially, since no teacher knows what someone they are ministering to may be lacking in their faith. I think that it often takes God to identify this lack for us. Jesus does this in Mark 10:17. Remember the account of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said, “Keep the commandments,” and the man replied that he had from his youth. Jesus then looked at him and loved him and said,”One thing you lack, go sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come and follow me.” This man was faithful in obeying the commandments and yet lacked one thing.

God knows for sure when we are finished, but I think that we can too, if we are honest with ourselves.

What Does The Bible Say About Angels?

What does the Bible say about AngelsPeople have always been interested in angels. I can think of three television series with the/a main character being an angel. Many misconceptions about angels are spread through the entertainment industry. I’m not trying to slam them for this because they are in the entertainment business. And entertainment does not have to be fact. We all know this but it seems without knowledge of reality, our entertainment becomes our view of reality.

In movies and TV, angels are sometimes portrayed as former humans, sent back to earth to do good deeds to,   ”Earn their wings.”  Images of angels with wings or halos or harps are common, and their personalities are very human, sometimes with dispositions that exhibit emotional thinking, uncertainty and tempt able weakness. Good stuff for entertainment but not for anything more than that.

Resolve – Our New Year’s Resolution

resolve
For some reason, New Year’s Day has become a time for making resolutions. That is, making a decision to change something in our life for the better. So, this week many of us have started to do something we have been putting off, or are trying to stop doing what we wish we did not do. For a while, gyms will be busier and not as many cigarettes will be smoked and fewer calories will be consumed and many other good things. New Year’s resolutions are always good for us. Well, at least I never have heard of anyone resolving to start a bad habit. But I’ve seen that most resolutions are only for a while.

Why is doing what is good for us so hard and doing what’s bad come naturally? Jesus told us the answer. He taught us that, “The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.” The specific instance was the inability for the twelve, minus Judas, to stay awake and pray. Even though Jesus had just asked them to watch and pray, “Lest they fall into temptation”, they still fell asleep. [Mat. 26:36-45]. The bible often points out that the urges of the physical body, if followed, will lead us to failure.

The Christmas Story

 The Christmas StoryOur nation will soon be commemorating the birth of our savior Jesus. I think that whenever our country wants to celebrate something good it is a good thing. And the birth of Jesus is a very good thing. So great is the fact of His birth that it is the central point in time! We count years from His birth, time being reckoned either before or after Christ’s birth. Ironically, the birth of Jesus probably occurred about 3 B.C. according to most scholars.

Mathew, Luke and John all write about the events surrounding the Messiah’s birth but each account preserves different information for us. John’s record is short and sublime, focusing on the amazing fact that God entered the world, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us….full of grace and truth.” Mathew and Luke give us more of the human interest information that we all can relate to because they are very human circumstances indeed. Because both of these writers record different facts, there is a need to harmonize them into chronological order.

The Highway To Heaven-Use the Map

What is the right way to heaven?Have you ever gotten lost while driving to a place that you have never been to before? Prior to car GPS systems this was a common thing, especially when trying to find someone’s house. I remember years ago when trying to get to a customer’s house was a hard thing to do. And when I would stop to ask for directions, often I would be told, confidently, exactly how to get there. But it turned out that the person was wrong, and so I’d ask someone else. And they would be wrong too! Grrrrr-

This scenario happens all too frequently when trying to get to heaven. Everyone is lost, (Rom. 3:23) and must try to find the way there. Sadly, a lot of people do not care or will not try, but many of us will ask for directions. And there are many people who will confidently tell you exactly how to get there. The scary thing is that most of the directions you will get are wrong and will take you someplace you don’t want to go. Some of us realize that the advice we received was not correct and that we are still lost. Unfortunately, most people won’t discover that they are on the wrong road till it’s too late and they are forever lost!

Capital Punishment, A Biblical View Of The Death Penalty

Every now and then the topic of capital punishment, or the death penalty, becomes front and center in the public spotlight. These news stories are chosen because there is an angle, or twist, to the story that will serve the mainstream media’s objective to stop all capital punishment. Usually, it is a case where the circumstances are such that people who are undecided about the topic might be swayed to the anti-death penalty view that is being propagated by an ever growing amoral society. This nation has become so ‘nonjudgmental’, that sometimes people who cause the death of someone are not even punished at all! Perpetrators are pitied while victims and their families are forgotten. Christians can’t allow themselves to buy into this foolish thinking.

I can’t forget this one case about fifteen years ago. A person in Texas was executed for murdering a couple. There were no twists to this case; nothing iffy. Prior to the execution, the usual groups that decry capital punishment were there, speaking on behalf of the guilty. But what was unusual about this execution was the involvement of the religious community. Men such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were atypically calling for clemency. Why? Because the convicted person professed becoming a ‘born again Christian’ while awaiting execution.

The joy of one sinner repenting and being born again is one we all share, but this begs two questions. Should this affect our view of capital punishment? And does forgiveness by God mean the removal of consequences?

Christians must know God’s will in matters being debated in this country. If we don’t, who will speak up? We cannot expect a humanistic society to chance upon what is right. Civilization without God’s guidance would self-destruct.

Capital punishment bible flag and constitutionLong ago God observed, how great the wickedness of mankind was on the earth, and that every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time.  And He said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them” [Gen. 6:5, 13]. It was because of violence that God wiped out all life, saving only the lives in the ark. God did not want a repeat of the violence that characterized the former world. And when Noah left the ark, God made it very clear commanding, “Surely for your life blood I will demand a reckoning,” and “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed” [Gen. 9:5, 6]. This commandment was part of God’s ‘New World Order’ for the human race.

God said through Moses, ”You shall not take a ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, he shall surely be put to death.” “You shall not pollute the land, for blood pollutes the land and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it except by the blood of him who shed it” [Num. 35:31-33]. Today, our country/land  must be blood red.

Now then, a murderer can be forgiven. By confession and repentance, God will forgive. But the consequences don’t go away! David, when he turned to God asking forgiveness for murder, was told, “The Lord has put away your sin” [David being King could not be executed]. However, the punishment previously pronounced by Nathan was not rescinded; therefore David suffered the destruction of his immediate family, and the death of three of his sons [2 Sam. 12:9-ff]. The Bible teaches that a truly penitent person never complains about their punishment – never! As Paul said, “If I am an offender, or have done anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying” [Acts 25:11].

It is God’s will that we live in a safe society. Paul, speaking about rulers and authority, wrote, “For it, [authority], is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is God’s minister to inflict wrath on the wrongdoer” [Rom. 13:4]. The sword is supposed to be a symbol of  harsh punishment, not probation and psychiatric counseling. Criminals are not afraid of the justice system today. Believe it or not, prison does not put fear in the worst criminals. And in some subcultures, it is a ‘rite of passage.’ In a country where the average time served for murder is 5.9 years, it is no wonder it is not safe out there.

Capital punishmentAll systems have flaws because we, being human, make mistakes. However, we should at least try to do things in a God-directed manner. The Bible, in the writings of Moses, has the most sensible rules for justice. Did you know that crimes against property or self were not punished as severely as now? Only crimes against persons were harshly punished. However, in today’s society, if someone steals a child they often serve less time than someone that steals money from a bank. Solomon, the king, saw and lamented the lack of justice in Israel. The prophets also complained about the injustices of their day.

It is not surprising that there are people who will oppose fair and just punishment, but God’s people should not be standing with them. We should know better. For you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, remind yourself of this, “Then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him. And He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’. Then He will say to those on the left, ‘Depart you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.” Amen

Death Bed Conversion – Can You Be Saved Like The Thief On The Cross?

By death bed conversion I am not only referring to people who are dying and then call for a minister, but also to those who ‘plan’ their time for Christianity sometime after retirement. When someone decides to follow Jesus it should be an exciting and happy moment, but there is something , at least to me, very unconvincing about a pre-planned salvation.  It’s almost as if because they no longer enjoy doing what they want, or have done all they wanted to do, they might as well go ahead and convert.  And why live like God wants with all the sacrifices and obedience that accompanies a walk with God if it can be put off till the end? The ‘thief on the cross’ is often used or misused as a proof text to justify such a plan.

Can You Be Saved Like The Thief On The CrossWell, what about the thief on the cross? Does this passage, Luke 23:39-43, justify such a plan? What do these verses teach us about this man? Let’s see. He feared God, for he asked the other condemned man, “Do you not fear God?” He had wisdom, for he said, “Seeing you are under the same condemnation?”  He saw the illogic of insulting a fellow who was also being executed as they were.  He was like Job, for he accepted his punishment, as harsh as it was, without blaming God, for he said, “And we indeed justly, for we received the due reward of our deeds.”  He judged rightly, for he said, “But this man has done nothing wrong.” Finally, he humbly called on Jesus, for he said, “Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom.” The charges against Jesus were well known, and above Jesus’ head was written, The King of the Jews.

The fact that he was a condemned robber did not mean he was ungodly, because there were many Jews called zealots who took up the sword, believing they were serving God by opposing the heathen Roman government; kind of like Robin Hood. Remember, even David became an outlaw for a while, and God was with him [1 Sam. 22:1-5, 23:14].  He also lived when righteousness through Judaism was possible. Only when a Jew rejected Jesus as the Messiah did their standing before God fail [Acts 13:16, 45,46, 14:1,2]. From what we can determine about the ‘thief on the cross,’ he seems  to have been a just man who knew the truth when he heard it. Repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus was not preached till after Pentecost and so not involved in his salvation. The circumstances this man lived and died under, especially being with Jesus, will not apply for anyone today, and certainly, this verse lends no support for someone to delay following Jesus till the end of one’s life.

death bed conversionThere are many people who are putting off their opportunity for salvation, thinking that there is still plenty of time for that later. Just like Felix who said to Paul, “Go away for the present; when I have a convenient opportunity, I will send for you.” The problem is that there will not be another opportunity, because for them there is never a ‘convenient time.’  We do not know when we will die. Usually death does not give much warning. To plan your conversion for a more convenient time betrays a wrong motive and attitude that has no intention of changing. To delay was not acceptable, as Paul was urged by Ananias, “Why are you waiting?” and Peter, too, commanded response to the call of the Gospel [Acts 22:16, 10:48].

To delay following Jesus is to risk everything for no good reason. People who plan on an eleventh hour conversion often die at ten-thirty. As Paul wrote, “I tell you, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation” [2 Cor. 6:2]. Amen!

 

Growing Like Jesus

Does becoming christ-like seem like an impossible task? I have heard that some people are reluctant to becoming a christian due to their belief that it is too much for them. This is understandable; but this could be said about doing what an adult does if you are a little child. No one expects a 4 year old to do what a 40 year old does and God does not either. we are taught that it takes time to grow spiritually.

Growing as Christians is a lot like growing physically as human beings. There are a number of analogies in the word of God that explain for us spiritual development by use of our physical growth. The starting point is birth. Jesus said, ”No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again”. [Jn. 3:3]. This birth is of “water and Spirit” [vs. 5] “what is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit”. [vs. 6] Through this birth we enter the kingdom of God, God’s family.

growing like JesusAs spiritual newborns, we must “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” [1 Pet. 2:2]. Infants like nothing more than to nurse, and a new Christian’s desire for spiritual nourishment must be as strong. A baby that is not hungry would alarm the parents and pediatrician, and would be terrible if not corrected. Likewise a new Christian that is not interested in the milk of the word should cause great concern for their elders and brothers and sisters. Without food, there is no growth! Thankfully most babies and new Christians do want to be nourished and so, must be feed. [1 Pet. 5:2, Eph. 4:11, 12]

Children must continue to grow. Children who cease to grow mentally and physically will not be able to function in society. They will have to be carried, being unable to deal with normal everyday life. So too with God’s children. Paul wrote that when evangelist pastors and teachers fulfill their responsibilities, we will “no longer be infants or children, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery……..but we should grow up in every way into Him Who is the head, Christ” [Eph. 4:14, 15]. In order to do what normal Christian life requires we must grow to maturity.

Sadly, a lot of time is spent in the church on those who are spiritually babies. Many elders are more like baby sitters than the shepherds God would have them be. Paul wrote, “brethren, stop thinking like children. In respect to evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature”. [1 Cor. 14:20]. We must be teachable and, ”submit to those who are over us the Lord”. [1 Cor.16:15, 1 Thess. 5:12]

Our goal is to grow up and be like Jesus. Jesus is what maturity is all about. Paul wrote, “for those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son”. [Rom. 8:29] God decided in advance that we should become like His son so that Jesus might be the firstborn [that is Preeminent, here stressing Jesus is the pattern], among many brethren. We become like Jesus when we take in or absorb the word of God. After Paul explained the superiority of the new covenant, speaking of it said, “And all of us, gazing with unveiled faces on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory into glory as from the Lord, Who is the Spirit”. [2 Cor. 3:18] From the pages of our new testament we can clearly see Jesus and become like Him.

The need for maturity is obvious and the problems that come from not growing are clear, such as the many problems in Corinth. [1 Cor. 3:1-ff] And the warnings also. [Heb. 5:12-6:8] So let us move on to maturity and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

What Is The Christian Hope?

The Bible uses the word hope a lot because we, as Christians, are taught that hope is essential to the Christian life. The divine standard of Ephesians chapter 4 is One God, One Lord Jesus Christ, One faith, One baptism, One body, One hope, and One spirit. Hope is one of the seven essentials for our unity as children of God. We must, therefore, be able to explain this hope. As Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” [1 Pet. 3:15].

Hope is a very positive word. I mean, the context is always uplifting. Some common synonyms are desire, trust, and expectation. According to Roget’s Thesaurus, the opposite of hope is dejection, impossibility, and ‘fat chance’. To hope is to look forward to something you desire and to expect that it will happen. The combination of desire and expectation equals hope.

Do Christians have eternal hope?Let’s look at some verses about hope. “In hope of eternal life, that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began”, and “having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs in the hope of eternal life”, and that we are to live Godly lives “while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” [Titus 1:2, 3:7, 2:13 ]. Paul, in his greeting to Timothy, wrote, “Paul an apostle…by the command of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ our hope.” Paul said while on trial, ”I am on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” These scriptures are speaking of the one hope, eternal life, that Jesus will give to the righteous at the resurrection when He returns. It seems that the return of Jesus and eternal life are so closely related that it is viewed as one event, thus, our one hope.

What a future to look forward to; the return of Jesus and eternal life. This hope can carry us through hard times. Paul wrote that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to this glorious hope [Rom. 8:16-25].

There are many, many people today without this hope. They have no hope because they live their lives without God. Their hopes are temporal and empty. And when things go wrong and life throws at them big problems, they feel fear, depression and rage. Others have false hopes given to them by liars and false teachers who say what they want to hear. These folks are deluded by the lies that make them feel good. They may feel happy now, but it is only temporary, and when judgment day comes, doom and hopelessness will be their eternity [see 1 Thess. 5:3, 2 Tim. 4:3, 1 Jn. 4:1, almost all of 2 Peter and Jude].

But for those of us trusting in God, Who cannot lie, our hope is real. It is an anchor for the soul [Heb. 6:18]. God has guaranteed it through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus was willing to die on the cross that by His resurrection we might have a living hope [1 Pet. 1:3]. Death is not to be feared, nor should we be sorry for those who die in Christ. Though it is normal to feel sad at the loss of our brothers and sisters, we should remember that our loss is their gain [1 Thess. 4:13-14, Phil. 1:21-23].

Sometimes I ask myself, do I really look forward to the return of Jesus? Or are there things that I look forward to more? Hmm, that could be another topic…

Key versus used in the above article: 

1 Peter 3:15
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Titus 1:2
2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

Titus 3:7
7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 2:13
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Romans 8:18
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

1 Thessalonians 5:3
3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

2 Timothy 4:3
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

1 John 4:1
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Hebrews 6:18
18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

1 Peter 1:3
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Philippians 1:21-23
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

What’s Your Soul Worth

Ten million dollars? A hundred million dollars? In reality, a soul often sells for a whole lot less. Why? Because the thing we desire the most is what the devil uses to purchase our souls. He has been given power in this world to tempt and bribe us. Jesus faced such trials. “Then the devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘all this authority I will give you, and their glory, for this has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours if you worship me.’ Jesus replied , ‘It is written, Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him’” [Lk. 4:5-8].

What is your sole worth

Sadly, all of us fail and fall under the bondage of sin [Rom. 3:23, 6:20,21]. But the purchase price for a soul varies a lot. Wealth, of course, is a common bribe but it could be just about anything. For some it is succeeding at something and for others winning a race or election. It could be anything we have a great desire for. Even what we should highly value and love can become a bargaining chip. Jesus warned us, ”He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” [Mt. 10:37]. Our own life can be too precious [Mt. 16:25].

Somehow, the devil seems to find out what we want most. He then uses it as a wedge to separate us from God. Take the example of the rich young ruler. He was a good man. He kept the commandments. Yet he let something come between himself and God. “Then Jesus, looking at him loved him, and said to him, ‘one thing you lack, go your way and sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven—and come take up your cross and follow Me’” [Mk. 10:21]. Jesus saw that his “great possessions” had become too important.

The reason the devil so easily buys souls is because the desires of the “here and now” make us forget the more important things of the future. Like Esau, who to satisfy his hunger with stew and bread, sold his birthright [Gen. 25:29-30]. That’s the way it usually goes. In a moment of emotional impulsiveness, your whole life is changed for the worse.

The good news is Jesus Christ has come to seek and save that which is lost [Lk. 19:10]. In Jesus we are set free from sin to be slaves to God. The wages for sin’s slavery is death but the wage of slavery to God is eternal life [Rom. 6:16-18,32,33]. In Jesus, God will limit temptations to what we can handle [1 Cor. 10:13]. In Jesus,

He will intercede for us so our faith will not fail when we are being “sifted like wheat” [Lk. 22:31]. In Christ we learn new wants and desires. And when our minds are on good things, the things we want will be good things. As we grow as children of God, the devil’s temptations will fall on deaf ears. What we were unable to do before, we can now do in Christ.

Soul

The whole point comes down to this. Jesus said,”What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeit his soul” [Mt. 16:26]? Eternal life is much more important than even all the world. Amen!