Friends,
A good book to read that explains Calvinism and exposes its falsehoods is “What Love Is This?” by Dave Hunt who founded The Berean Call newsletter. Though I don’t agree in calling Calvinists, in general, our brothers, as Dave does, and though Dave holds to a form of OSAS, I do still highly recommend the book. For it is an excellent explanation of Calvinism and why it is false.

Also, here is a good article by Steve Jones concerning Calvinism’s false assertions:

http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html

Again, I don’t agree with calling Calvinists our “brethren” (though I do believe that it is possible that a person in any cult, while being semi-ignorant of the cult’s actual beliefs, can be loving the Lord so genuinely that God, who is outside of time, does count him as His own as He helps him come to know the real Truth). One more thing, and something I may post about eventually: I do not agree with Jones that election is a mystery. But, in spite of these two differences, I found the article very informative and one I would definitely recommend.

Everyone needs to be made aware of Calvinism’s falsehoods and how it differs from what the Word of God teaches. For this counterfeit has become a giant and dangerous tsunami.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Advertisements

Words That Inspire

April 29, 2013

Friends,
I love the word “beautiful”. That word itself has such a graceful and lovely sound. I think that’s why the name, Jennifer, (which is my sister’s name) also sounds so pretty.

I love the word “precious”. It reminds me of things that have been given to me by people I cherish, and it reminds me of them, as well. The word causes me to think grateful thoughts about these dear people and reasons why I appreciate and love them.

I love the word “cherish”. What an endearing word! Similar to the word “precious”, the word “cherish” invokes happy, secure, and comforting thoughts, thoughts of being valued and cared for by someone I love, as well as reasons why I treasure and protect that person who loves me.

I love the word “splendor”. This word flashes across my mind when I see a spectacular sunset, a majestic mountain, or a shimmering sea. My spirit leaps for joy at the works of God’s hands, my heart stands in awe, and my lips whisper, “Oh Lord, the God of Beauty, Majesty, and Splendor, You are great. I adore Your name. I worship You, You who are my Heavenly Father, the One who is always there for me, the One who cares for me, listens, answers, and loves. Thank You so, so much for blessing me to know You. I love You, God. I love You.”

I love the word “majesty”. It makes me immediately think of my God, the Lord Most High, the Creator of the galaxies, and the glorious King of kings who is more powerful, wise, and awesome than anyone can fathom. Yet even in His grandeur, He smiles at me, at me, at me. And He lifts me up from the ash heap and bids me, “Come and dine” –to join Him at His own table. Yes, the Glorious One, robed in majesty, invited me to be His own. And accepting, I have never regretted it. Not even close.

I could go on with other wonderful words. But what prompted me to write about these in particular? Actually, it was as I read Ps. 138:4,5 a bit ago. Yes, while others sleep, I must quietly open my Bible and meet alone once more with my Best Friend. For this psalm that He “gave” me, prompted me to respond with the words “beautiful” and “precious” as I was thinking of how much I cherish the Lord’s Word and presence, and as I was meditating on His splendor and majesty.

Here is the psalm: “May all the kings of the earth praise You, O LORD, when they hear the words of Your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.” (Ps. 138:4,5)

It is a continual marvel how the Lord speaks to us. I have read that psalm many, many times, but this time, yes, this time, His Spirit in it spoke to my spirit reading it. Those words are beautiful! Listen. It’s a prayer. May all… the kings… –those people who rule, influence, or command others. May they praise the Lord, for then others will see and hear and do so as well. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? And when will they do so? When they hear the words of God’s mouth. That means when they hear us, His servants, proclaiming God’s Word, Message, Gospel, Commands, Laws, Precepts, Love, Justice, Care, Holiness, and Righteousness, they will have cause to praise the Lord! What then do we pray they will do? That they will sing of the ways of the Lord, of His attributes, of His character, of His just judgements and shielding care. Why should they? Because the glory, splendor, and majesty of the Lord is magnificent.

Truly, what a great psalm! What an exciting prayer! And what beautiful words to inspire hope, encouragement, and worship!

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Those of us who have fasted for one reason or another, being it because we were seeking the Lord’s will, petitioning Him fervently, trying to lose weight, or simply because we just didn’t have time to eat, know that, aside from the supernatural help and power of the Lord, going without food is a difficult endeavor. It’s difficult, not only because of social resistance or being left out, not only because we are upsetting our schedules and habits, not only because our mind, emotions, and taste buds crave food’s comforting familiarity, but fasting is difficult because the whole of our physical body needs food. God made our bodies to need food (and water). For food is what turns into nutrients which our body absorbs, that it may be nourished and be able to function. In other words, food creates nutrition and energy within our body so that our body can move, grow, perform, and operate properly.

If our bodies do not get food, those who have gone without for any significant length of time, know the dizzy, weak, and sick feeling that comes on. If the fast goes on too long, or happens too often, we can ruin our health. Those in poverty, or those who live in countries with famine or war, have felt or witnessed numerous consequences of malnutrition, even death. Definitely our bodies must have food. Food gives us the energy which we must have in order to work and play. Through the energy it gives us, we can build houses, pour concrete, run marathons, hike, swim, make meals, clean house, mow lawns, give lectures, etc.

Now, although we cannot function without food, because food gives us nutrients and thus creates energy for us, is it actually the food that does the work for us? Of course not. It’s not food, nor is it even the energy it creates, that literally builds, pours, runs, hikes, swims, cooks, cleans, etc. Instead, it is us that does these things. We are the ones who must move our limbs and use our eyes. We are the ones who must make all the multitudes of choices involved –to pick up, grab, lift, scrape, wash, type, drive… to put one foot in front of the other… WE do these things. We are the ones acting, speaking, reasoning, determining, deciding, doing. But what gives us the ability, the energy, the vigor, the strength, the stamina, the power? We know the source comes from the nutrients in the food we eat. For God decreed that the fuel for our bodies be food.

So, similarly, God ordained that our spirits need food. This food, He says, is Himself (John 6:48-58), and we receive Him by digesting His written, living Word that is the Spirit and the Eternal Life. (v. 63,68 // Matt. 4:4) This is why James 1:18 says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth” and 1 Peter 1:23 says, “For you have been born again… though the living and enduring word of God.” I could say (though not at all to be irreverent), that the Lord is our Nutrition, and our Nutrition is brought into the “cells” of our spirit by eating the Word of God. This Nutrition saturates our spirit and we are energized to perform that which our Master instructs. For not only do we have our Nutrition giving us the power to perform, but we have Him –His Spirit– within our spirit and thus His voice to guide us in everything.

However, if we do not eat the Word, we will grow spiritually faint. We will wither, and by not producing fruit, we will be considered useless and tossed to the fire. (Luke 13:5-9 & 14:33-35 // John 15:2,6 // Heb. 6:7,8) Sadly, many who call themselves Christians exist in this condition –famished, unhealthy, fruitless, and full of sin. They are those who, while blind to their own worthlessness, exult in their (supposed) privileged position of having been given by God tickets (of favoritism) to Heaven as well as licenses to safely sin while remaining on earth. But: “Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (2 Cor. 11:15)

If the apostle Paul said that he was “struggling” as he proclaimed the Gospel of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) so that everyone would become “perfect in Christ” (v. 28) and might walk in the “complete understanding” (2:2) of the treasures we have in Christ (v. 3), then why would any so-called Christian think he can sit back and let Christ do all the work? A wicked generation perpetuates this teaching! For the Truth teaches that we are to work. We do so with Christ’s energy and His mighty power, under the control of the Spirit and in the will of the Father; but it is we who advance in doing what He commands. As Paul said, “To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (1:29) We ourselves labor, but we do so using His powerful energy, the Energy which is Christ Himself in us.

No one who walks in this Truth –THE Truth– has any excuse to walk in sin!

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Eph. 2:4-6 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses [dead in our trespasses and sins –v. 1], made us, [through our union] with Christ, alive (by grace you are saved) [are in the process of being saved –1 Peter 1:9], and raised us with [Him] and seated us with [Him] in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”

There is a lot of theology there. But one thing we can learn, by comparing these verses with others in Scripture, is that to be made alive spiritually is to be infused with Eternal Life, which is –who is– a Person. This Person is the Spirit of God and Christ (Rom. 8:9), namely, Christ Jesus, the Son of God –“but God is one.” (Gal. 3:20; see also Mark 12:29 and Dt. 6:4) For Jesus the Christ, is the visible, bodily form of God the Father (Isa. 9:6 & 43:10,11 // John 8:58 & 12:41 w/ Isa. 6:1 // Col. 1:15-20 & 2:9 // Heb. 1:2,3) –He who is Spirit (John 4:23,24) and who is invisible. (Col. 1:15 // 1 Tim. 6:15,16)

If we are “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8), then the Spirit of the Father and Son have set up dwelling with and within us (14:17,23), and we are therefore “of God”. (1 John 5:18,19) Being of God, we no longer continue to sin (v. 18), for we are no longer under the power of the evil one (v. 18,19) and consequently, no longer “of the devil.” (3:8) We, being born of God, have God’s nature, and so cannot go on sinning. (v. 9) This is because “we are in the True [One], in His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and Eternal Life.” (5:20) As verses 11 & 12 have already revealed, “And this is the witness [the testimony / the message of the Gospel], that God gave eternal life to us, and this life is in His Son. The one having the Son has the Life; the one not having the Son of God does not have the Life.”

No one can be both of God and of the devil. No one can abide both in Christ Jesus and in the rebel kingdom. No one can abide both in the Life and in the Death. No one can abide in Eternal Life (the Person) and at the same time be “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1,5) That Death walk is that “in which we used to walk, when we lived according to this world’s present path [way / practice / culture], according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit that is now operating in [at work in / energizing] the sons of disobedience; among whom all of us also formerly conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest [of mankind].” (v. 2,3)

The Life walk is completely different: It is a new walk, for we’ve discarded the way we used to walk, and we live not according to Self (the flesh), not according to the world, and not according to the devil. In other words, the way we behave is not according to sin, sinfulness, evil, wickedness, rebellion, or disobedience to God. Instead, we abide in God and He in us. This path of Eternal Life is true, holy, obedient to God, and righteous. It is not merely a position of righteousness, but a walk, a life, a lifestyle, a conduct, a behavior, a mind-set, a mouth, a heart –and a display coming from all of that– of cleanliness and purity.

If this purity is not the case, then that person remains in the Kingdom of Death; and unless he whole-heartedly repents, that kingdom will be his abode eternally.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Daniel, God’s highly esteemed prophet (Dan. 9:23), in praying to the Lord, reveals that the Lord “keeps His covenant of loyal love with all who love Him and obey His commands.” (v. 4) All of Scripture confirms this fact. In Dt. 29:9, God tells the people, “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant”, and in 11:13, “faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today”, and in 8:1, “Be careful to follow every command”, and in 2 Kings 17:38, “You must never forget the covenant (the agreement) I made with you.” Multitudes of times God insists that obedience to His laws is the proof of our love, and the requirement for His covenant with His people to be kept valid.

God’s Covenant of Loyal Love is one much like that of husband and wife. God promises to cherish, shield, care for, love, rescue, and commune with all those who faithfully remain in His presence of love. He is their God and they are His people.

Because God’s chosen bride (Israel) broke the First Covenant of Loyal Love, God designed a New Covenant through a new way –the way of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6)– for all who repent of sin and put their trust in Christ. This Way retains all the laws that entail moral righteousness and love, but it incorporates a different, much more superior, power: God’s own Spirit to indwell all who come into the New Covenant. Included in this cross-over from death to Life (John 5:24) is a leaving behind of sin. In coming into The Covenant of Loyal Love, a person receives a cleansing and a new heart and spirit (Ezek. 36:25-29) and mind (Rom. 8:5-9 // 1 Cor. 2:16 // Eph. 4:17-24), across which God’s laws are now written (Heb. 8:10) so that we can remain faithful. (v. 9) This new self has been given to us so that we are empowered to live like Christ in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:24 // 1 Peter 1:14-16 // 1 John 2:6)

This empowerment has been made available to us through Christ’s atonement (Rom. 8:2-4), through which He renders sin in us vacant and powerless. (John 1:29 // Rom. 6:6,7 // Heb. 9:26 // 1 John 3:5) For God “condemned sin in sinful man” (Rom. 8:3), meaning that, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins [cease sinning / be set free of sin’s power / renounce sin / depart from sin / separate oneself from sin / walk clear of sin] and live for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24) This absolutely is about walking in obedience to God; and only by doing so are we kept inside the Covenant of Loyal Love.

As Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” And, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” (15:10) This is why 1 John 3:24 says, “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them.” Therefore, love, being proved through obedience, is definitely the term of agreement we are required to uphold.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Hell is going to be darkness, raging fire, a bottomless pit, and a place where people will react with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Why this reaction? Because they will be in torment. But what will the torment be besides needing water to quench one’s thirst, the pain of the fire, and the anxiety caused by the darkness? I believe it will be the realization of having forfeited hope forever.

Jesus warned of Hell repeatedly. He said it was something to fear beyond comparison, including being murdered. (Luke 12:4,5) He said that to fear God was much more crucial than to fear men, for the very fact that God has the authority to judge everyone and banish them to Hell if they refuse to quit their loathsome deeds (same verses // Heb. 10:26-31 // Rev. 21:8), including deeds of negligence –neglecting to forgive others (Matt. 18:32-35) or to be Christ to them. (25:41-46)

Not one moment in Hell is a party, as some people seem to be expecting. It is not a place anyone would want to momentarily visit out of curiosity. Hell is not only the absence of God, but the abode of demons and human rebels who have already been cast there. Undoubtably, it is full of wailing, crying, and shrieking, as well as rage-filled blasphemies against God. –Even though, in the humans’ lifetimes, God had done everything He could, short of force, to redeem them (by having died to pay their ransom), to warn them, and to send them His ambassadors proclaiming His Word. (Scripture does not reveal any offer of redemption to the demons, probably because they rebelled even within the privileged perfection of Heaven and with the abundant knowledge of God’s majesty, holiness, and power.)

So, when men languish in Hell, what will likely be the dominant thought that they will not be able to resist racing through their tormented minds? It most likely will be their utter regret of having been so foolish as to cling to that which damned them forever. –That lust, that anger, that greed, that idolatry, that worldliness, that cruelty, that deceit, that carelessness, that arrogance, that impurity, etc., –those sins that they just couldn’t give up. And certainly, at the heels of these thoughts, and the cycle repeating in their minds endlessly, will be the realization of having forfeited hope forever. No hope. Forever and ever hopeless.

That realization, and existence, is definitely Hell.

Is it any wonder that the Spirit of God in the saints compels them to proclaim salvation everywhere and at all times, even sacrificing earthly things, if it might save even one soul from such an awful fate?

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Throughout the Word of God we are told that the righteous (those who obey God’s commands) will have God’s blessings, whereas those who revile the Lord by disregarding His commands will have calamity. We are told that these two destinies do not have to do with belief and claims, but with faith (a belief that trusts Christ), obedience to God, reverence for God, love for God, and a lifestyle that produces the fruit of the Spirit. We are told that there is no favoritism in this set-up, but that a man’s conduct of actions, thoughts, and words, will reap the type of harvest the man receives (and deserves) –as judged by God and His standards. (John 5:29 // Gal. 6:7-9 // Col. 3:25)

Isaiah chapter 26 is just one of the numerous passages we could study in order to see the above Truths. Verse 7 says, “The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, You prepare a smooth way for the righteous.” Who are these righteous people? They are those who live in Judah (v. 1), which, for us, signifies the Kingdom of Praise to God in which we walk in strength, salvation, deliverance, righteousness, faithfulness, peace, confidence, security, and protection. (v. 1-4) What a beautiful Kingdom! What a privileged dwelling!

Therefore, the righteous yearn for God and painstakingly seek Him late into the night, early at dawn, and during times of adversity (v. 9) in which they learn how to wait on the Lord (v. 8) as they desire His name to be exalted. (same verse) Even the world in general learns, through God’s judgements, to fear and revere Him (Ps. 76:8-10), as well as the importance of living in a just and righteous manner. (Isa. 26:9b)

Alas, not so the wicked! (v. 10) Though God bestows mercy on them (by using His judgements to warn them, exhort them, and encourage them to repent), they do not learn to act right. (same verse) Instead, even within a land where right is rewarded, they continue to deal out injustice and corruption, and have no regard for the majesty of the LORD. (same verse)

What will God do to these wicked? He will knock them off their high place of pride, lay them low, level them to the ground, throw them down to the dust (v. 5), and cause the feet of the oppressed to trample across them. (v. 6) For though the wicked refuse to take notice, the LORD’s hand is lifted high, ready to act with divine retribution (v. 11,14,20) to punish the earth’s inhabitants for their sins. (v. 21) For truly, because of His zeal for His people and His glory, God will put His enemies to shame and ruin, consuming them with the fire of His wrath. (v. 11,14,15,20,21)

But for the righteous, God ordains peace and security. (v. 12) All they have and all they have done, has been accomplished by the hand of the LORD Himself (same verse) who wipes out even the memory of the ruthless (v. 14) but increases the blessings of those who refuse to praise the name of any god but the LORD. (v. 13,15)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel