Friday, January 31, 2014

Jude 5b

Jude's next phrase, right before getting into the Old Testament examples, is "though ye once knew this". This could mean that his beloved readers have simply already learned it and he is applying it for this specific purpose. Or it could be that the readers have learned it but have all but forgotten it, and need the reminder so that they don't fall into the trap of apostasy that the false teachers are laying. Regardless, it can teach us something today.
The application: First Jude mentions that they "once knew this". This tells us that at the very least, his readers had a working knowledge of the scriptures. In order to be able to properly apply anything to the dark times of today, we must know God's Word. Second, we must be willing to continue. Jude put them in remembrance, but we must consistently put ourselves in remembrance of who God is, what He has done, and what we are learning. Then we must be willing to contend. While it is unlikely that all his readers heeded this call, we have a copy of the Word of God and convictions to go with it, so it is obvious that some did. We must listen to Godly counsel and follow in the steps that God lays out. Paul gives similar instructions in his second letter to Timothy (II Tim. 3:10-17). It was of utmost importance to these men of the New Testament, inspired by God, that our faith be learned, kept, and contended for, and it should be no different for us today.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jude 5a

In the next phase of Jude's letter and Peter's chapter, they put together several examples similar to these ungodly men. Jude states "I will therefore put you in remembrance..." It is interesting to note that Peter goes in chronological order, while Jude's order is unclear, though it may have made sense to him. This shows what type of writers the men were and what thought processes they went through. Peter was very methodical, Jude passionate. Though both possessed both traits. Both give three examples, two the same, before comparing them to the certain men. Jude tells his readers he will put them in remembrance. Rather than simply speak his warning, which he could have done very well, he also goes back to examples from the Word of God. 
The application: Jude saw the Old Testament as an integral part of his warning (Rom. 15:4; I Cor. 10:11). He realized that his words, no matter how wise or how Godly, meant nothing without scripture to back them up. Now obviously his words would become scripture, but he had no knowledge of that because there was no New Testament. Proof that the Old Testament is just as valuable a teaching tool as the New Testament is that it is quoted from by New Testament writers so often. Its prophecies came and will come true. Jesus himself quotes it and uses it to teach. Paul says it's valuable. And each writer and teacher treats it as if it literally happened, because it did. And if it's in the canon of scripture, is it not there for a reason? 1) The Old Testament is valuable. 2) Our arguments and counsel must be backed up with the Word of God. * If someone gives you counsel and can't back it up in the correct context in scripture, don't listen to them!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

II Pet. 2:3b,c

Peter gives further description of the destruction of these false teachers: "whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." Peter has already mentioned that these certain men will bring upon themselves swift destruction. This is more looking at God's role in their certain destruction. The next verse starts "for if God spared not...", and Jude goes on to say "likewise these filthy dreamers". Peter says they "shall receive the reward of unrighteousness", and only God can dish out that reward. Paul spoke of this coming judgment on all sinners to Felix (Acts 24:25), and Jesus himself said he came for judgment (John 9:39). What Peter is saying is that God is marking the unrighteous works of the wicked. Even when it seems that they can prosper (Job 21; Eccl. 8:10-9:5), God is watching every work that they do and their judgment is not lingering, but is coming. Their damnation is not slumbering, but God is alert and seeing what goes on. As Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees, the fakes of his day, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Mat. 23:33).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Ecumenical Movement

            The Ecumenical movement among all religions who fall under the umbrella of Christianity is neither new nor is it going away. But it is also no less alarming or completely against what the Word of God teaches us. This movement attempts to, at face value, unite all who claim to be Christians together to foster understanding and find what is common between us.
            There is a serious problem. For many of us, there is not much in common. Now don’t get me wrong, we are monotheistic, we all love God, and we all claim to believe the Bible. But we all at the very least interpret it differently, possibly very differently, or use completely different versions of it.
            The Ecumenical movement’s roots can be traced all the way back to early man at Babel: “And the whole earth was of one language, and of 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. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9)
            All of man, corrupted by sin, settled in a plain and decided to build a tower to heaven. All of earth cooperated in an attempt to center their society around this tower, and in trying to make a name for themselves. (The irony is, the very thing they were trying to avoid happened.) Whenever man tries to reach God on his own, he no longer has a use for Him; thus it can be inferred that they were creating their own religion- all the same, and apart from God.
            Ecumenicalism is also associated with the end times. Revelation 17 describes the Whore of Babylon, who is “drunken with the blood of saints” and seduces the kings of the world. All the world in the Tribulation is led to worship her. Her kingdom is set up in the revived Roman Empire along with the beast. Through the work of the False Prophet (Rev. 13) whom the Beast himself raised up, their deception power is so strong that they would be able to deceive the very elect (Mat. 24:24). Of course, God’s true elect will not be there. It cannot be said for certain what this one-world religion under which all people will be deceived will be. But there is no quicker way to bring all people together into the bonds of religion than to weaken their beliefs and have them all worship the same thing.
            This is the movement at the heart of Ecumenicalism. We do all worship the same God, but how we worship Him, how we learn about Him, even the all-important question of how we will meet Him when we die, varies drastically. There can be no reconciliation of these beliefs without great compromise on them- without giving them up completely.
            This is what some Ecumenical leaders are willing to do. Every Ecumenical leader is either trying to legitimize their beliefs that they know is wrong by claiming that “we are not that different,” or attempting to build a bridge (for some unknown reason) over a gap that cannot be spanned.
            You may say, “Jesus spanned that gap.” Jesus spanned the gap between God and man because man was not good enough to get there himself. Nowhere did Jesus come for us to lay down on our beliefs, he came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
            Leaders in the Ecumenical movement are not limited to, but part of precisely what Peter and Jude wrote to the churches about:
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (II Pet. 2:1-3)
            Peter calls these damnable heresies. He says that they cause the actual way of truth to be spoken evil of, because it clouds what the truth actually is from people’s eyes. Thus, instead of seeking it, they criticize it. But he also says that their “swelling words of vanity” (v. 18) will appeal to many. Ecumenical leaders not only are likely sending themselves to Hell, but they are taking a lot of people with them.
            Peter says at the end of the chapter that even those who “have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” would be better off not knowing Him than being deceived by these men. Both he (chs. 2-3) and Jude give their knowledge on how to spot these men and how to avoid them. They even mention one of their methods of operation as “lasciviousness”, or sexual immorality- just like the Whore of Babylon.
            These leaders come from all over Christian backgrounds. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI put forth effort to bind faiths together. A very popular Church of Christ pastor, Max Lucado, has been a huge advocate of this. Besides counting core beliefs as “non-essential”, “Lucado was a signer of the deceptive "The Gift of Salvation" declaration between evangelicals and Catholics in November 1997” wrote David Cloud on the Way of Life Website. At the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in 1996, Lucado “claimed that ‘the sin of disunity causes people to go to Hell!’” He “had the 40,000 men shout the names of their denominations all at once. The result was confusion, of course. Lucado then asked the crowd to state who was the Messiah. The ensuing response, "Jesus," was heard plainly. The evident goal of this clever little exercise was to demonstrate the beauty and simplicity of ecumenical unity.” (Cloud) As Dr. Ralph Colas then reported, “Lucado then pled that every clergyman who had ever spoken against another group or denomination, find a member of that group and apologize…” For more on Max Lucado’s false doctrine, read here: It is these types that Paul warned Timothy of, that Peter wrote to the saints of, and that Jude urged the beloved to watch out for.
            I do not pick on a Church of Christ pastor or even Popes for any particular reason. The unfortunate truth is that people from all over the umbrella of Christianity have fallen under this spell.
            Let me also be clear before I conclude. There are things that people of all faiths can agree on, and can work together on. Many moral issues of our nation are generally agreed upon and can be stood up for. (It is when we are creating interreligious organizations to do so that we cross into this.) We should have a general agreement on politics as well. I have worked with numerous Catholics on the issue of abortion; many more than Baptists or Protestants, to our chagrin. In fact, many of my close friends are Catholics, and have often proven more reliable and more caring than many Baptists; this is a blight on us. But regardless of how anyone acts or otherwise, we must examine the truth before us.
            In order for me to reach a level of religious agreement with, say, Catholicism, it would involve me giving up most of the convictions I hold. Jude wrote and told us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”, not to give it up so we could all have unity. There is a diverse belief system under Christianity. Baptists and others believe that the only way to obtain favor with God is through His Son, whose gift of His death, burial, and resurrection we can accept through faith in Him ALONE to obtain eternal life in Heaven. Yes, it is that simple. The Calvinistic denominations look at the same Bible and say that God chooses ahead of time who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell, and there is nothing we can do about it. Still others believe generally in salvation as an act of God’s grace but believe that man’s works must be added to it. Some believe that is baptism, some a certain amount of good in comparison to bad, and some believe one can lose their salvation. Catholics believe in a type of salvation, but focus on the keeping of sacraments that begins with sprinkling into the church, usually as an infant, and continual confession to priests. (The list is rather complicated; I, thankfully, do not wholly understand it.)
            Regardless of beliefs, we can see that the difference between varies denominations in Christianity are wide-ranging. How can we become unified when we do not even agree on how to get to Heaven? This is but one difference (though obviously important) of innumerable ones.
            The answer is, we cannot. I have friends from all different religions. I work with people from all different religions on various things. I have no problem with it. But when it comes to godly counsel; when it comes to finding out what is the truth of God’s Word, I will seek it within my own faith. We cannot reasonably expect to find common ground where none exists. To create it, we would either have to convert to another faith (which would still leave one at odds with all the rest, though it is imperative that one questions their own faith) or leave all convictions and beliefs behind and water down their own doctrine. The latter is the method of the Ecumenical movement, and it is creating an entirely new religion of its own- one that stands for nothing to avoid stepping on any toes.

Monday, January 27, 2014

II Pet. 2:3a

Next, Peter says something that's hard to chew on. "And with covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you..." These false teachers have one major pursuit in mind: money. Name any religious famous religious individual, and you can almost be guaranteed that they have healthily profited off of their teachings. False teachers such as Joel Osteen, Max Lucado, and T.D. Jakes have made fortunes off of their new age, televangelist, and DVD preaching. Billy Graham has equally profited after his compromise on his convictions (and before as well). Popes, having taken a vow of poverty, take up residence in The Vatican and wear gold and embroidered cloth. Religion has long been a profitable endeavor, so long as people can be properly deceived. This is not to say that money cannot be made by preachers and pastors- they have to make money, and they should be able to enjoy God's blessings. We must not fall into the standard of thinking that they cannot make anything while we can. But the end result of their ministries (as well as our jobs) is not money, it is to serve God. And getting rich is exactly why false teachers are in the business.
The application: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with." (I Tim. 6:10) Christians must also be careful to avoid being caught up in this pursuit of money and deception of false teachers. As Lot is mentioned later as an example. Lot coveted the better land and a society and status in an ungodly place, and was deceived thinking he could live among such evil and remain unchanged.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

II Pet. 2:2b

Peter brings up an excellent point that is easy to see in the second half of verse two: "by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of". Think of the stigma on church. Think of the reasons people choose not to go, and why those that blatantly oppose it give reason to trash it. It is because of these false teachers. If a Christian is truly following in the way of truth, some may speak badly of him, but it is without reason and will not stand. But if ungodly men and false teachers and playing the part and are fakes, that makes them hypocrites. This gives the world the ability (truthfully though unwarranted) to say that churches are full of hypocrites. They look past their own faults and point out others', while ignoring the fact that there are genuine people as well. But it is these certain men that allow the way of truth to be "blasphemed" (Num. 22-23, though mentioned later; Acts 1:18, 5:1-11). They open up the door for stereotypes and badmouthing from wicked people. Therefore another guilt of these ungodly men is bringing reproach on the church of Christ.
The application: Those who are legitimate must separate themselves from hypocrisy and not waste time in frivolous arguments, but rather contend for the faith and let the Holy Spirit do the reckoning through them.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

II Pet. 2:1e

What is said next about these false teachers comes from the pen of Peter, and it serves as a somber warning to the Christian. "And many shall follow their pernicious ways..." There are the false teachers that may appear genuine to those that are not grounded in the faith or are not of the faith, and these are headed for destruction, as Jude and Peter make clear. But not only that, among these certain men are false teachers that are good leaders, as good of leaders that are in Christendom, only their ways are evil, as have been and will be evident. While following God and Godly leadership leads to a victorious life, following these men is a "pernicious" way (see contrasts in Psalm 1 and throughout Proverbs (i.e. 19:21, 20:18)). In other words, those who are deceived by these deceivers are headed for the same destruction that they are! Not only that, but the Bible says that many will be.
The application: Since this matter is already settled, there are two things the Christian can do. First, watch your back. Be cognizant of these ungodly men. Earnestly contend for the faith. "Light always shines brighter in a darker place." -Max Fernandez. Second, be a part of damage control. Contend for the faith by attempting to win ungodly men to Christ. His judgment is certain, meaning we have a finite amount of time before He comes and it's too late to do anything (I Thes. 5:2).

Friday, January 24, 2014

College Athletes

            We all have our own unique perspectives in life.
            Well, you’ve gotten your profound statement for the day, you can go home now.
            But really, I’m going somewhere with this.
            I’m not talking about we look at something factual and decide to hold our own opinions regardless. What I’m speaking of is that where we’ve come from, what we’ve been through, and how we’ve gotten to where we are at each gives us a unique way of looking at things. And THAT isn’t a bad thing at all.
            I could drone on about this, but I want to use it to springboard into what I feel led to write about today. I personally have been a huge sports fan for my entire life. I have dabbled with various ones, eventually settling on soccer to play. I love to play various ones, will try anything, and will most definitely watch anything. It is a small wonder that I am a Sports Business major.
            Having a life-long love of sports has allowed me to have a greater appreciation for those involved in them. I know that there is no sport that is easy to master; some aren’t even easy to learn. I still enjoy a good pick-up game of soccer or basketball, but there is a reason that I am playing pick-up games and am on an academic scholarship.
            I have a tremendous amount of respect for the athletes that have the talent to play on to the next levels past high school. Often athletes in high school are seen as popular people- while this is often the case, those that are good enough to play in college usually had little time to capitalize on the popularity they had. Not only did they have practices and games (or matches, or meets, etc.) for their school team, they also likely had another team they played for or played multiple sports. They had recruiters to worry about and had another added level to their college decision.
            Schedules in college aren’t easy either. During the season there are daily practices for several hours and games that aren’t any longer an hour or two away, but can be across the country. Missing classes is a somewhat regular occurrence. Even during the off-season, conditioning and workouts are usually early in the morning and still take up a lot of time. Add on study tables and public relations events as well. College is stressful for anyone, but such a schedule must have extra stress still involved.
            “But they get scholarships to reward them for that.” To a point. At the Division I, college athletes only have full-ride scholarships provided in football and basketball. And I’m not sure that that’s mandatory. In every other sport, a certain amount of scholarships are allotted that can be split between all the athletes. So many athletes do not get their tuition paid for- sometimes not even close. And this for a busy schedule that makes it very hard, if not impossible, to work.
            So what’s the point of writing this? There is a certain view of college athletes among many people, even among college students. They think they are stuck up or that they think they are too good for everyone else. I won’t make a sweeping denial of this, because I will not go to the level of the afore-mentioned attitude. But at my college (Northern Kentucky University), I have never met an athlete that has acted this way. Are there some that are? I’m sure there are, because they are normal people, and some people are that way.
            Athletes at this level sacrifice a lot for the program. I am not at all saying they should be pitied. They get a certain celebrity status and get to play a sport they (hopefully) love at the next level. That is a rare opportunity. But they are no different than the rest of us; they simply have more athletic talent (though if the basketball or soccer team wants to test that sometime, I’d be down) to be able to wear our colors and put their best effort forth for our schools. Just like how any of us have our strengths; these are just more conspicuous.
            There is no reason college athletes should be treated any differently. I would bet you nine times out of ten if you talk to one of them, they’d be more than happy to have a conversation. As an aspiring agent, I enjoy talking to and getting to know them.
            And it is easy to blame them for losses, but remember, a lot goes into making a team. Even if they make a mistake, know that we all do, and that these aren’t pros on the TV, these are your peers (or adults, these are barely adults). As long as they put their best effort forward with pride in their school, what do we have to complain about?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jude 4e,f; II Pet. 2:1d

The next thing these certain, ungodly men are guilty of is the most serious if all. In fact, this is why it is so easy for them to be guilty of everything and anything else. These ungodly men are guilty of "denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ". Several things can be lifted out of this careful wording. First, it is denial. Denial brings with it an element of choice. No one is forced to deny something. Yes, one can be threatened, but it is a personal choice, and each person must make it for themselves. These certain men, in the face of a Holy God, choose to deny Him. Second, note the word "only". As if it is not made clear in the rest of scripture, God is the only true God. He proves it in battles, He proves it in leading, and He says it over and over. Not just other gods should not go before Him, but NOTHING should. Third, take notice to that three letter word, "our". This shows a contrast. While "our" Lord is Jesus Christ, these certain men's lord is not. The parallel passage in II Peter 2 brings more clarity. In verse one it states that these false teachers are "even denying the Lord that bought them". This is not, one would take it, saying that they are believers, since one who denies Christ cannot be a believer. Rather it is saying that Jesus's blood can cover all men, even these ungodly men. Yet they, aware of this, choose to creep into churches and deceive rather than receive Christ's gift. By denying Christ and God, sowing sin is only a natural response. It is clear by this why their destruction is so clearly marked. Yet, knowing that Christ came for all and came for sinners, we must attempt to win them while not being deceived ourselves.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jude 4d

Jude tells his readers the first of many things these certain, ungodly men are guilty of. They are "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness". Grace, of course, is a bestowing of favor, especially unmerited; and if it helps, lasciviousness also means licentiousness. Since that probably does not help, both words mean "unrestrained by law or general morality, or immoral, especially in a sexual manner". With this simple definition, it is easy to see what a grave offense this truly was and is. What Jude says with this phrase is that not only are these ungodly men attempting to deceive by playing the part as Christians, but they are spitting in the very face of God. The grace that God showed by sending His Son to die that we might have salvation (Acts 14:3; Rom. 3:24, 4:4), the "grace heaped on grace" Christ gave by coming (John 1:16), the grace that God gave Christ (Zech. 4:7), the grace that Christ was full of (John 1:14), the grace that He told Paul is sufficient (II Cor. 12:9), the grace that we serve God by (Heb. 12:28), the grace that is in a child of God's lips (Ps. 45:2), the grace that He gives the lowly (Prov. 3:34), the grace that was given to the apostles (Acts 4:33) and that they returned (Rom. 1:7; II Pet. 1:2; II John 3), the grace that allows us to stand before a Holy God (Rom. 5:2), the grace that we're under instead of the law (Rom. 6:14), the grace that He gives more of to resist sin (Jam. 4:6), the grace that we grow in (II Pet. 3:8), the...Well, we get the picture. God's perfect grace, these ungodly men are turning into their own immoral ideas. Instead of taking it for all that God says it is, they in turn decide to make of it something unrestrained by God's law. Remember another group that did this? The Hebrew people had been taken out of brutal Egyptian slavery by the strong hand of God, and immediately don't trust Him and think He's taken them out to die. But He saves them. Again they won't trust Him to lead them into the Promised Land, and He has them wonder in the wilderness for forty years until everyone over the age of twenty at that time, save two people, die off. Again and again they complain and rebel, and God provides and stays his hand. On one occasion before their forty year punishment was handed down, Moses goes up to Sinai to get the Ten Commandments. Everyone else, left waiting, decides that they have been abandoned and demand a new graven "god" be made. They take God's grace that He handed down time and time again, and turn it to lasciviousness as they worship a golden image and dance naked around it. When Moses comes down, he is astonished, and by God's leading orders a punishment that ends up killing some who were worshipping. So will it be with these ungodly men. Their deeds are marked, their deeds are serious, and their punishment is certain.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Abortion- From the Students for Life of America Conference

            Today I am writing from the Students for Life National Conference in Washington, D.C. The March for Life, which every year commemorates the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States, is tomorrow. I found this would be an obvious appropriate time to address the issue of abortion.
            To those that support abortion in any capacity, let me say that I am not angry with you. There has been a methodical argument made by the left that says that it is best for women and babies alike. Those of us who are against it are, therefore, against women’s rights and don’t care about how children are raised in our country. Let me say that that is the furthest from the truth. Organizations such as National Right to Life are huge advocates for adoption, for the expressed fact that they want every child to have a good life. But they want every child to have A LIFE. The women’s rights argument is a bit more absurd. No culture except those who religiously sacrificed their children would make a claim that it is a woman’s right to kill her children.
            Please don’t misunderstand me- women are (nearly) as much victims of abortion as the babies that are killed are. Most don’t realize that they truly have a distinct human living inside of them; they go in to weigh their options at a place like Planned Parenthood, which recommends abortion about 150 times more than it does adoption. Why? Because it makes money off of abortions, not adoptions. I find it empowering for women not to be manipulated by a high-profit, yet still government-funded organization. I do not consider women’s rights (I will attempt to put this gingerly) having a vacuum, or surgical tools, or acid put up their birth canals. Women’s rights is not suffering from 14 effects of post-abortion syndrome, such as guilt, depression, reliving the abortion, and suicidal thoughts.
            Women’s rights is not roughly 600,000 baby girls (1.2 million babies total) being killed every year in the United States. It is not the targeting of females in countries like China. If you define it that way, I am sorry. Elizabeth Cady Stanton is rolling in her grave.
            I am not going to get into the science behind why fetuses are alive and are humans- there are plenty of articles on that, and overwhelming evidence behind it. Don’t ignore this for whatever various reasons- a quarter of my generation was killed before birth (or while “partially” born). No ends justify these means.
            For those who are convinced that fetuses are humans, and that abortion is wrong, let me make a charge to you. Do something with your conviction! Everything stays the same unless an effort is made to change it. Things are not altered in the world because they are not acted upon. Nothing starts or stops on its own. You say, a ball stops rolling on its own. No, it is acted upon by friction. Nothing changes without being acted upon. The way things are right now, abortion is legal in our country. There are some more conservative states that have limited it, but they can only do so much due to federal law.
            If you believe abortion is wrong, do something about it! Educate others, write about it, speak up, get involved in organizations, write your representatives about bills. Don’t sit by passively and let others do the work. I know well we all can’t do everything, and certainly can’t work every job. But something that so negatively affects our society cannot be ignored. It could have been you, it could have been me. I don’t want it to be any more. Let’s all work together, all contribute, and we can make that come to fruition.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jude 4c

Jude's next description of these certain men gives them another name. It is a short description, but well-defined throughout scripture: "ungodly men". Ungodly is defined simply as "not accepting God; wicked; sinful; unseemly". It is synonymous with profane, evil, corrupt, blasphemous, and impious. When Jehu rebukes Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles 19:1-2, he equates the ungodly with hating the LORD, and as a result says that "wrath is upon thee from before the LORD". It is a serious offense not just to be ungodly, but to help them in their cause as well. The very first psalm of the longest book of the Bible gives a good description of the ungodly. It starts by saying "blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly...But his delight is in the law of the LORD". The contrast to being ungodly is following God; they are exact opposites. These ungodly men follow in their own ways, rather than in the right way of God (Prov. 16:25). The psalmist goes on to say that the ungodly are not like the righteous, but are like chaff driven away by wind (chaff being a symbol of the wicked throughout scripture, and this manner showing their helplessness when their destruction comes). They will not be able to stand in judgement nor with the righteous. And their way will perish. This theme and contrast is reiterated all throughout the book of Proverbs. The wicked are headed for destruction, and all they cause on Earth is destruction. "An ungodly man (literally a man of Belial) diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire." (Prov. 16:27). For the Christians' part, Paul says that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this PRESENT world;" (Tit. 2:12) while also looking for Jesus's return who died for us, is how we are to live. Paul says in Romans 1:18 that "the wrath of God IS revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness". God does and continues to punish the ungodly. But later, in Romans 5:6, Paul also says that "in due time Christ died for the ungodly". We could all be in this predicament if not for Christ's gift from the cross. And remembering that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Pet. 3:9), we must also remember that he would want these ungodly men to come to know Him as well. Keep this in mind when we get to the end of Jude.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Music Video Interpretation: Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke, ft. Pharrell Williams & T.I.

            I hardly know of anyone that doesn't like music. I enjoy a catchy tune, but what I find really impressive are lyrics and music videos that involve a lot of symbolism and rhetorical devices. Time permitting, I hope to be sharing reviews of a few that have stood out to me.
            However, today I will be reviewing a song that I hate, for reasons that I will explain.

            Our society is musically diverse. There is something out there for everyone, whether made by Americans or brought in from abroad. However, there are only a few genres that are able to produce Billboard Top 100 songs. It is interesting to see what tops the charts to see what is being enjoyed the most.
            When I first began to hear “Blurred Lines” last summer, by relatively new “artist” Robin Thicke (with a couple of others featured), I found it, like so many songs, to have a catchy beat but a bit hard to understand. In fact, its beat is undeniably catchy above any of the rest of the songs from the year, which is what propelled it to its popularity. I could, however, pick out a few lines and knew that it was either a song about wanting a “good girl” over a bad one, and hence could have potential, or was about WANTING a good girl, and was therefore disgusting.
            After continuing to hear people talk about it and hearing it around campus, I decided to look up a lyric video. I found that it was not only the latter, but that my initial thoughts far underestimated just how bad it was. I watched the popular music video, which besides being stupid with its random hashtags, simply increased how nasty the song is. It literally made me sick.
            (Here is a link to lyrics: and the music video:, although I give my expressed warning, there is a good amount of foul language, as well as sexual innuendos and lines that are too bold to be qualified as innuendos. In fact, I would recommend not even giving them any more than the 255 million views they already have.)
            At the very least - at BEST - this song is about an affair. But “good girls” don’t have affairs. Though Thicke denied it in multiple interviews, I see nothing else this song can be about than rape.
            What does not concern me so much is the fact that this song was written and performed in such a shameless way. Plenty of other musicians have written and performed things to this magnitude. What concerns me is how popular the song became, and still is.
            I think there are few people (this trio obviously being the exception) that would condone rape in America. Yet someone writes a song about it, hides it behind saying that really the lines are blurred and that women enjoy it, puts some danceable music to it (what a waste of decent music), and everyone is loving it.
            I will not be the one to claim that one is guilty by association in the music world, or in other areas. I will not say that if you listen to Michael Jackson you are condoning child molestation or if you buy products made in China you are condoning child labor. But this is a direct relation. We have to be aware of what the lyrics to songs are, and sacrifice a tune if it supports a heinous idea. “Blurred Lines” was named the hottest song of the summer and was one of the most popular of last year. Is this what we as a society want to support? We look at the mistreatment of women and sexual violence and wonder why it happens, why it is not tolerated less. There is no one single thing to blame for anything, but when we fall in love with a song that supports it, when we cause someone to rise to fame through throwing his support behind it, we can see part of the reason why we are in the mess we are in.
            Now this is not to say that those who have enjoyed this song are asking to get raped. When it comes to this crime, the criminal is the one to blame. No one is “asking to get raped”, no matter what they are wearing or what they do. But when it comes to preventing sexual violence, we have to make sure to include something that is such a huge part of our society: music. Music can get to us like few other things can, and can spread ideas like few other things can. We have allowed a song about rape to become one of the most popular of the year. What does this say about us?
            I am not alone in these thoughts. A fairly popular (and pretty funny) parody to “Blurred Lines” brought up these same subjects and called out Thicke for being a creep, as well as poked fun at the music video itself. I will warn you that it does still have foul language and discusses some of the sexual lyrics/images that is in the music video:
            Remember to be careful what you let into your minds. It can affect you without you even realizing it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jude 4b; II Pet. 2:1e

In the next phrase, Jude gives background on these certain men, mentioning that they were "before of old ordained to this condemnation". Since men have free will, and God is willing that all should come to repentance, this is not the Calvinistic belief of predestination as they see it. Rather, it is seen through a long line of prophecies and examples about certain men such as these, who were "marked out for" condemnation. These certain men were "long ago marked out for condemnation". Though they may be indistinguishable at times now, in the end their destruction is very clear. Peter says that they will "bring upon themselves SWIFT destruction", because they themselves are deceived along with others. Jude in the following verses gives several examples of groups who were similar to these certain men, and in verse 8 begins "likewise...".
The application: Just as those in the past were destroyed for their sin, these certain men are also ordained for destruction. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus serves to warn the laborers of the field about the tares that Satan has planted. A warning sign is that they bear no fruit. Whether we can recognize them or not, Christ knows who they are. Nevertheless, He lets them grow until harvest, or Judgement, when He has the angels separate them from the wheat and casts them into a pile to be burned (Mat. 13:24-30, 36-43). Jude's brother and Master, God incarnate, says that we will live with these tares, these certain men, but in the end they will be judged accordingly.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Jude 4a; II Pet. 2:1a,b,c

Jude now comes to the purpose for contending for the faith. "For there are certain men crept in unawares..." While many verses, including the rest if verse four, are devoted to describing these men, this phrase gives their M.O. Unlike Satan's description as a roaring lion (I Pet. 5:8), these men are much more subtle, such as the serpent in Genesis 3. They come into homes through television, into churches, and are all around us. They seem like Christians, look like Christians, may even act the part, but they are not. Peter in II Peter 2:1 tells of them being false teachers who PRIVILY bring in damnable heresies. (He mentions back from chapter 1 that this is not new.) These people are not open in their rejection, nor open in recruiting others. But this is what makes them so dangerous. They are difficult to spot. They are more as leeches than lions. But the Bible says that "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (I Cor. 5:6). These men can destroy a church. But the Bible also says that they are "certain men". While they are hard to spot, by hearing their convictions and doctrine they can be found out. We must pray for discernment, that God would help us weed out these "certain men" (I Kin. 3:9).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Redifining of a Right

I promised you more on the issue of the Affordable Care Act, something that continues to be a debate in our society. I have found that it is not even so much "Obamacare" itself, but the premise behind it, that is alarming in our society.

       There is a great misunderstanding that has permeated our society, and much of our world as a whole. It is bankrupting our government, tearing down our healthcare system, destroying individual lives, and allowing those with a malevolent agenda behind it to have their way. This problem is so simple that it can be overlooked, yet can be made so complex behind the rhetoric of morals, equality, and “haves and have-nots”. This issue can be summed up in one sentence.
 People don’t know what the definition of a right is.
       “Come again?”
       “You mean to say the entire issue with the failure” (and any half-observant person would call it a current failure) “of the Affordable Care Act is because a word was defined incorrectly?”
       Well, the Affordable Care Act was going to be a failure. I knew it as a high school kid. But the reason it was passed in the first place was this reason, yes.  But this goes far beyond the issue of healthcare, though that is the hot topic of today, in no small part due to the 5 million people that have lost their insurance, contrary to President Obama’s promise. The federal government of the United States has begun to buy into this redefining of a right, and it is growing the size of government tremendously. A better term would be “has been”, as this “I-deserve-this” mentality has been catered to since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. “But that was for the Great Depression.” Yes, and the programs still continued- and were added to. And as the government began to provide more and more services, its budget began to increase and increase, until finally there is a woman on government housing with government supplied utilities eating government supplied food soon to get government insurance (if the website ever gets fixed) bragging about her government supplied cell phone on television.
       Of course, we can debate this issue all we want. The mandated insurance is against a person’s right to make their own choices apart from their government. If no one can be denied based on preexisting conditions, what will keep me from waiting until I am sick to get insurance? This bankrupts the insurance industry. “But you have to have insurance.” It is cheaper to pay fines than sign up for “Obamacare”, as the fully partisan bill is regularly called. Whenever the government gets ahold of anything, it gets messed up. The United States Postal Service is so far in the red it is looking for any way to cut costs. Just look at Amtrak as one example of an unfortunate business the federal government has put its magic touch on. When the government attempts to subsidize, costs are driven up. The more money it has poured into loans and aid for college tuition, the more the cost has gone up. When Medicare and Medicaid came into practice, the rate of inflation in the healthcare industry began to far outpace the rate of inflation in the overall economy (over a 2% difference over 50 years). When the government realizes it has messed up, it usually involves itself deeper. Our nation was founded on a principle of not trusting our government. The founding fathers did not trust England, and they did not want to trust the new republic. Hence the checks and balances. Hence the 2nd amendment. “If you do not trust your government, why did you create it?”, I was once asked. First, I did not create it. Second, anarchy is never a good option (i.e. Somalia), instead, as Winston Churchill put it, we need the “worst government except for all the rest”. This is democracy. But most important, we ought not to trust our government to keep it in check. Did not Germany trust its government in the 1930s?
We must keep it honest, and be honest about its shortcomings in business endeavors (and a plethora of other areas).
       But before I digress too far, this gives a springboard into the heart of my argument. Where the United States has gone wrong in its policy, and where quite clearly a good part of Europe along with Canada have even further ventured astray, is that the policymakers no longer have a correct understanding of what rights are. Part of this comes from the almighty and America-discriminating institution, the United Nations. The UN Declaration of Human Rights, an ever-growing list, gives dozens of things that it sees all people as being entitled to. Indeed, this is now the norm for what a right is- an entitlement. “I need healthcare, so give it to me. I need somewhere to live, so let the government provide it for me. Throw in food too- don’t even limit it to items that will sustain me, let me buy lobster and steak and soda.” It is the entitlement definition of rights that fuels the entitlement mentality of the masses. (It does not help either when a mentor of president-to-be Barack Obama, Van Jones, stands up at a rally and yells, “Give them the wealth!”) Many in our nation truly believe they are entitled to health care, as they are entitled to other things. But before we get to this dangerous line of thinking, let us, for all the progressive thinkers who have slowly redefined rights, define what a right truly is.
       When the founding fathers declared our independence from mother England, they did so under the rights, endowed by our Creator, of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (based off of John Locke’s life, liberty, and property). These rights are inalienable- they cannot be taken from or given away by the possessor. Whether we agree that healthcare can be taken from an individual or not, an individual can give it away by their choice if they no longer wish to have insurance or treatment. Hence, health care is not an inalienable right. But what about a right at all? In the Bill of Rights, the rights of American citizens are outlined, with the 9th Amendment stating (paraphrasing) that the list is not exhaustive. It is not important to debate what else is included through this important amendment. What is important is the nature of rights.
 The founding fathers set up rights to be negative. No, not as in bad. A negative right (also known as simply a right) is one in which the citizen has protection from government. This is contrary to a positive right that progressives have created in which government owes a service to us. With a negative right, the government is not to infringe upon that right nor allow others to infringe upon its citizens’ right. Any example can be used from the Bill of Rights. American citizens have the right to bear arms (which was created out of a mistrust for government and which some cities, states, and entities have chosen to go against the Constitution on, but that is another topic in its entirety). This means that citizens have the opportunity, if they are able, to own and carry weapons, and the government nor others can prevent them from doing this. What that does not mean is that the government has to provide every citizen a weapon. (That would be a positive right.) Every citizen can speak freely (even against the government), and no one, not the government nor other citizens, can infringe upon that right. (Yes, the Supreme Court has ruled on certain instances, but overall free speech is strongly protected.) That does not mean that the government provides a public forum on a website that everyone must post their thoughts on (not only a positive right, but a forced burden). You may claim those are ridiculous examples, but is not the same thing being done with the Affordable Care Act?
       The correct answer is yes. There is a mandate that all must purchase insurance or pay a fine. Employers must provide it at their expense, including Christians paying for birth control and even abortions against their beliefs. A website that doesn’t work has been created to allow people to purchase government health care. Five million have been dropped from their health insurance and will face fines after they were told they could keep their insurer if they liked them (the president blamed insurance companies and more recently Republicans). Those who have kept their insurance have seen premiums increase substantially. All of this because some are under the impression that a right means that you are entitled to something. Hospitals, nursing homes, healthcare offices and insurance companies will go under due to the additional costs. Doctors and nurses who have spent thousands on years of education will be forced into a type of slavery. “Okay, now you’ve gone crazy.” Really? We claim our “right” to healthcare, but where are the rights of the many in the healthcare profession? Those going into the healthcare profession? Healthcare producers have the right to provide healthcare on their own terms to whomever they want. They are professionals as much as anyone else. What right do we have to tell them that they have to provide their services to everyone for a fixed price? Forget your self-interest and look at the perspective of these professionals.
       If you cannot forget self-interest, then think of this. Soon enough, under the Affordable Care Act, we will all feel the long waiting lines for emergency rooms and longer waiting lists for operations. Such horror stories as those heard in Canada and England will be right here in America as doctors begin to go on strike or leave the industry due to their profits being limited by a growing government and as millions are added onto a public insurance (if the website ever works). Are we willing to see patients die in emergency room waiting rooms because we can conveniently adjust the definition of what rights are to cater to our costs? Just as long as we don’t know them, perhaps?
       Lest I leave you, misled: we think it doesn’t cost us. The government already foots over half of the money of medical bills in the U.S. The goal with the Affordable Care Act is to raise that number. Where do you think that money comes from? The government just prints the money it needs? (Indirectly.) The huge majority of that money comes from taxes- income taxes. You are paying for your own health care, and many others’ health care. If you are thinking, “I don’t pay income taxes, so what does it matter to me,” shame on you. America has always been about self-reliance, why do we expect others to pay for services we get? This system will have a certain number paying for the healthcare of all of America. THAT system is unfair. Where are the rights of the people who do not want to pay for a stranger’s treatments? Or birth control? Or abortion?
       Drawing to a close, we see the important distinction between what progressives and socialists would have us believe rights are and what rights truly are. “A right is not is not something someone gives you- it’s something that no one can take away.” –FreedomWorks. It is dangerous for our own sakes to believe that rights are given to us, and that they are not natural and unable to be taken away. This gives us a dependence on our government instead of a rule over it. Knowing the true definition of a right, we can now say that medical care could be considered a right under the 9th Amendment, and even to all people. However, one must be careful with this view, as the UN, progressives, or socialists might take you as part of their movement to redefine this simple term, and by doing so restructure an entire sector of a nation.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Letter to A&E

Since college keeps one very busy, I haven't had much time to write lately. I figured I'd share the letter I wrote to A&E back when they had suspended Phil Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty'.

A&E Networks,

       I have been observing intently with much of the rest of America what has unfortunately been done to Phil Robertson of your hit show ‘Duck Dynasty’. I am writing to you not to spew hatred or make threats toward you, nor to even attempt to convince you to put Mr. Robertson back onto his reality show. My purpose in writing you is to clear up any misconceptions you might have.
       To understand exactly why Mr. Robertson has the views he does, and why he feels they are beneficial to our nation, we must go back to its very formation. It is the Declaration of Independence that was the founding document to make us an independent nation, and it is within it that numerous references to God are made. People are entitled by “Nature’s God” to a “separate and equal station”. Men “are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”. They appeal “to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”, and have “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”. The former two principles stated are the more important, as the belief in God-granted equality and rights would shape future laws and serve as the foundation of America as a Christian nation.
       “Now wait a minute”, one might say, “Sure the Declaration has all that God stuff in it, but the Constitution, the Supreme law of the land, never mentions God.” And that is true. But this is similar to the argument that Jesus never spoke on homosexuality. Jesus never had to speak on homosexuality, as he already went by the established principle that God had set up back in Genesis 2, well before the Mosaic Law. Every time he mentioned marriage, it was within the confines of one man and one woman. So too did the Constitution go off of the already established principles of the Declaration of Independence.
       If you are not convinced, allow further explanation. In Article VII of the Constitution, it is stated “done in the Convention by Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth”. Stating the it is the twelfth year of America’s independence is not at all discrediting the Declaration as many try to do, but in fact includes it not only as the beginning of our nation and as one of our founding documents, but as the foundation upon which our Constitution was laid. In addition, the founding fathers’ choice to use the Gregorian calendar must be noted. This had come into use in Great Britain just 24 years before declaring independence from them, and is based off of the time of Christ. The founders made the statement that they chose only independence from Britain, not the God that they followed there.
       “Alright, so the founding fathers were Christian people, but the separation of church and state keeps us from being a Christian nation, and keeps us from your morals.” The separation of church and state is a term that has been redefined by liberals over the years. The term does not even exist in the Constitution. Its statement on religion is that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The first amendment’s establishment and free exercise clauses were both put in place to protect citizens and churches from the government. For further proof, see where the actual term “separation of church and state” came from: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the
legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802. Jefferson believed that the government cannot tell citizens what to believe and that they are not accountable to it for their religion. Nothing is said of keeping religious beliefs out of government, only government out of religious beliefs.
       Now of course, A&E, you are not the government, and you are in full right to suspend any person from any show for no reason at all, as long as that is in their contract. But let us examine the true reasons for why you have indefinitely suspended Phil Robertson from your most popular program.
       Mr. Robertson took advantage of not only the religious portion of the first amendment, but also the portion that states, “or abridging the freedom of speech”. With few exceptions (namely those that put others’ lives at risk), anyone can say whatever they want in the United States. Anyone can express and practice their religion. I may not agree with it, but I do at least tolerate it. You see, this is the true meaning of tolerance. Tolerance is not abandoning your own beliefs to accommodate another’s. Tolerance is not hurling insults and calling names at anyone who does not support your lifestyle. And tolerance is not suspending someone from their television show for expressing their beliefs.
       You see, A&E, it is you that is in the wrong. America is a Christian nation, despite how it has slipped in past decades. God is still the Supreme Judge and His Word is still the complete and inerrant source of truth. To not believe this makes you in error. I would go into further proof of God’s existence and the Bible’s infallibility, but that is for another time (brevity is a virtue). Men have stood on these convictions for centuries. Anyone, such as GLAAD, for example, that would say that Christians believe that homosexuality is acceptable before a righteous God and acceptable for us, clearly are not Christians and do not know the Bible. God states from the beginning that marriage is between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24), destroys the cities of the plain for this very sin (Gen. 18:16-19:28; Jude 7), and reveals His wrath toward it (Rom. 1:18-32). These are but some examples in addition to what Mr. Robertson shared.
 However, this was not a sharing of hatred. Phil Robertson gave his Biblical-based views, and is being persecuted for them. He also gave the view that people are created in the image of God and should love each other- that he loves humanity. He shared that he will not judge man’s sin but will tell them the good news of the gospel and let God judge them. This is exactly the view that the Bible has told us to take. It is the view that I take and that all Christians should take.
       Even if you do not take these views, which you obviously do not, that does not stop me from showing love to you, nor did it stop me from watching your programs or sharing friendships with anyone. But you do not know the meaning of tolerance. You consider someone exercising their right of free religion and speech by stating that they believe homosexuality is wrong intolerant, yet you consider GLAAD tolerant when they tell Christians what they should
believe. You take your high-grossing character as a narrow-minded intolerant man when he says that he wouldn’t treat anyone differently or judge them, but you take yourselves as completely tolerant when you suspend him for saying that. You take intolerance as a Christian standing up for their beliefs that homosexuality is a sin but still showing love to all, but take tolerance as leaders in the LGBTQ movement calling them “homophobic bigots” and targeting them for punishment for doing so. Intolerance is having convictions, tolerance is telling people to believe your way, or at least condone your lifestyle, or else get targeted by you. Tolerance is supposed to be a two-way street. Instead, for the most part, it is a one-way street, and those that strongly preach it are not the ones that live up to it.
       What Phil Robertson is guilty of is having different beliefs than you. He has the correct beliefs, you the incorrect. But in America, you have the right to be wrong in thought, and in some cases in action. But one is supposed to have the right to be right as well, and this right is slipping. While the Robertsons have brought in millions for you, and have created an entirely new brand you can market, you have sat back and sneered at their beliefs you despise. And when Phil Robertson is ASKED what he thinks on a subject, knowing what he would say, and he responds truthfully, you are quick to suspend him from the show you are profiting from. (And most of the left-wing media calls his comments “anti-gay” and twists them to say that he equates homosexuality with bestiality.) Yet the next day you show a marathon with him in every episode (so I heard, I didn’t watch). This is a double standard that rivals the tolerance one. If I were the Robertsons, I would refuse to make any more episodes. You have obviously needed them; you have little else to market. I will be one of many boycotting your network, not for your views, but for your treatment of one who simply expressed his beliefs.
       A&E, your “tolerance” is showing.


Joseph A. Trammell

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jude 3d

Jude has greeted and he now wraps up his exhortation with an often overlooked phrase. He tells his "beloved" that in order to write of the "common salvation", he had to exhort them to "earnestly contend for the faith", or else there would be no knowledge of that salvation for future generations. But the verse does not end at "faith". He exhorts them to earnestly contend for the faith "WHICH WAS ONCE DELIVERED UNTO THE SAINTS". This has the implication of "once for all". This means that the same faith, that same doctrine of those Christians back then should be ours today. The beliefs that they held should be ours. This does not mean that we should live without electricity because they did, but our stances, God's realness to us, and boldness, should be no different. What is this faith? At its base, it is the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection for man's sins (I Cor. 1:17, 22-24). There are those today that deny God, and those who believe He is there somewhere but hidden. There are those in false religions based on a natural knowledge of a higher power (Rom. 1:20), and even those who claim Christianity who have tried to fashion Heaven through their own doing. But in this faith once delivered to the saints, Jesus paid it all! The living Word is the basis for the written Word, and it is this Word that men have contended for, even died for, because it cannot change (Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19). An unchanging God (Heb. 13:8) inspired (II Pet. 1:21) an unchanging Bible. Anyone who changes is not only cursed, but has changed it themselves. Those that believe them follow in darkness. We were given an unchanging faith, and still have that same faith. Let us contend for it so that we do not change and others have a chance to hear it, as it is, as well.
"The faith is not what changes. It is man that changes."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Jude 3c,d

Jude goes on to say that in order for him to write of this common salvation, he had to "exhort (urge, advise with a sense of urgency) you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith". Jude says this faith "was once delivered into the saints", but must be preserved. This is Jude's very purpose for writing. Because of the dangers and false Christians around them, it makes it all the more important that their faith must be preserved at all costs. "If one generations refuses to contend, the link is broken...Our faith was one delivered, but must be contended for in each generation." -Clarence Sexton. This faith does not change, but man can change. This goes beyond simply holding convictions, though it must begin by knowing doctrine. It must involve boldness, standing in unity and likemindedness with other believers (Phil. 1:27), and being willing to lay down even our lives to preserve our faith. It involves answering the question, "How much is Christ worth to you?" Just look through the Bible and throughout history at all the people who have contended for the faith at great cost and/or with only God on their side. With this great cloud of witnesses, you have further motivation besides the glory of God and the preservation of the true gospel. To see what it takes to gain the boldness to live in this manner, simply look at the lives of these people and read Proverbs 28:1. They lived righteous lives through a fear of God (Job 9). God was so real to them that He was their only goal.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jude 3b, Part II

Jude states that he is writing "of the common salvation". His thoughts to follow are to preserve this salvation, but just what does "common salvation" mean? In the law, the people not of Israel were called "common people" (Lev. 4:27). You can see where this is headed, praise God. When God comes to Peter in a dream, Peter saw various wild beasts, and God told him to rise, kill, and eat. Peter told God no because he had never eaten anything common! God told him, "What God hath cleaned, that call not thou common." (Acts 10:9-16). This was God telling him to begin a ministry to the Gentiles. Peter preached a message to them and the Holy Ghost came upon the Gentiles as well (Acts 10:17-48). God, being "no respecter of persons" made salvation common to all (Eph. 2:11-22)! The Word of God calls other things common to men as well (Eccl. 6:1-another enjoying one's riches; I Cor. 10:13-temptations), but no greater thing can man share than God's gift in Acts 10 to create a "common salvation", a "common faith" (Tit. 1:4), that all can partake of.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Without me ye can do nothing"

            This past Wednesday night I was in my usual spot while home from college, in my college class at church. Don’t worry, this story is going somewhere. Our college minister and his wife have two young children, the older being a girl and the younger a boy. For some reason, they are one of the few people on Earth who have taken a liking to my brother and me. They seem to gravitate towards my brother more, which is fine because most of the time their play involves violence towards us (and really only us). I happened to be playing a pool table game (we’d just created it) with their son when their daughter walked up and decided to join. My brother came on the scene and she took a swing at him, sending her cup of water she’d brought over off the pool table and hitting the foosball table. It was what followed that gave me the inspiration for writing.
            The water had made quite a mess. It was down the side of the foosball table, on the tile floor under it, and on much of the floor between it and the pool table. There was a lot of water to clean up. Now, this was not the first time I had cleaned up one of this girl’s messes. This is the same girl who punched a plate of meatballs and accompanying sauce on my shirt (and a little on my pants too). So I told her not to worry about it, and I didn’t want her parents to worry, so I went into the kitchen area and grabbed some napkins. But something surprised me. She was not ignoring the water like I might have expected her to.
            She had run into the kitchen area as well and grabbed some tissues off the counter. Bless her heart, she was fighting a losing battle. There was so much water, and she had about four tissues she was sliding around the entire puddle. I came over with the napkins and started to lay them down.
            “I got this,” she said. “I’ve almost got it cleaned up.”
            She continued to slide the tissues around, completely soaked and slightly widening the already large pool of water. I got part of it up with my napkins.
            “There, that should do it,” she said, looking at a still good-sized puddle.
            I proceeded to clean off the hosed down foosball table.
            “Yeah, just get that spot there,” she instructed.
            She went about other things, I think playing with my brother, and I went back to the kitchen to get more napkins and finished getting up the water that was left.
            As I was wiping up the rest of the mess she had made, I thought about just how much that situation with the girl is like us as Christians. So often we get ourselves into a mess. We are told to get rid of sin in our lives, we know that. But that is not always an easy thing. When sin becomes habitual, or for that rate even when any other problem or decision arises, we need to take it to God.
            “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Prov. 3:5-7)
            “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
            But instead what do we do? We try to clean it up ourselves. We try to handle it ourselves. Whatever problems, or sin, or decisions that arise in the course of human life, we decide we can handle on our own.
            “I got this.”
            And we think we’ve done so good with our little bit of tissues, just smearing and sloshing around our sin and our problems, and going our own way with our decisions.
            It’s what the world says to do, isn’t it?
            I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, the world is all about the independent person. You take care of yourself. You solve your own problems. You make your own decisions. You control your own life, your own destiny, your own future. It’s your life; make of it what you want. They throw out those messages of self-esteem and self-worth. We have to be confident and proud of our accomplishments.
            “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3)
            “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)
            “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (I John 5:14-15)
            “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18)
            We’re over here with our soaked tissues, saying, “There, that should do it.” When if we’re completely honest with ourselves, we have no idea what we’re doing. I’ve learned too many times the pull of sin is too strong on a human. I’ve learned the hard way that going through hard times on my own is foolish, and making decisions on my own is even dumber.
            Then how do we avoid the messes? We don’t, we’re human. But God is standing there saying, “I got this.” He’s ready to clean up spills every time we cause them and every time we’re presented with them. What we have to do is be willing to let Him step in and do it. Because we know we can’t, and we know He can.
            “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
            It takes us abiding in Christ. It takes us spending time with Him, praying to Him, seeking Him in His Word. We have to totally abandon ourselves to Him. Because apart from Him we can’t accomplish anything.
            We’re just children of God who always seem to be getting into messes. So often we are actually stupid enough to think that we can handle things on our own. Won’t you step back and let God clean things up?