Friends,
Several days ago I received a comment at my comment page from a Carl Bromley, taking issue with the fact that I write against the “once saved, always saved” (OSAS) doctrine. I reminded him of many Scripture passages and asked him to explain how he would interpret them. He did not answer. I do wish that if someone comes to my comment page, asking me to give, or change, my views on something, and I take considerable time and effort to answer, that the person would then respond, especially if I ask questions of them as well. I believe this is the only courageous and respectful thing to do. Here is what I wrote to Carl Bromley at my comment page this last Monday, 3/12/18, and I hope that others who rely on the false OSAS doctrine will study and answer the questions for themselves:

Hi Carl. May the Lord bless our walk with Him as we listen to and obey His voice of Truth. As you know, Jesus tells us to remain in Him (John 15:1-10), warning us that if we do not, the consequence is withering and being thrown to the fire. (v. 6) Jesus tells us to remain in His love (v.9) –revealing we have the choice– and tells us that we remain in His love through our obedience to His commands. (v. 10) If you do not interpret this passage this way, then what is your interpretation? (See Rom. 8:13,14 which teaches it is our choice to use the Spirit’s power available to us.)

Jesus tells us in John 10:27,28 that His (true) sheep –those He gives eternal life to– are those who heed His voice and follow Him. To follow Christ is to do what He instructs, wouldn’t you agree? Isn’t Jesus confirming this teaching when He says in Mt. 10:38 that “anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me”? Do we not have to obey Christ to be following Him (with our cross) and to thus be in God’s will? Doesn’t Jesus state in Mt. 12:50 that only those who do the Father’s will are those who belong in His family? Does He not also state this in Mt. 7:21 and in John 8:31? Does 1 John 2:17 not also confirm that it is only those doing the will of God who are inheritors of Eternal Life?

Eternal Life is knowing (having an intimate friendship) with the Lord (John 17:3) and thus being united with Him in Spirit, which comes through obedience to His commands, as 1 John 3:24 says. If this is our position, then we are no longer controlled by the sinful nature but instead by the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) For, “The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the Truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4) Therefore, “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.” (v. 3) This is how we remain in God’s love, making His love complete in us. (v. 5a) “This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must conduct himself as Jesus did.” (v. 5b,6) Jesus always said and did exactly what His Father commanded Him. (John 12:49,50 & 14:31)

How would you interpret 1 John 3:6? For it says that if we keep on sinning we do not live in Christ, nor do we know Him. How would you interpret verses 7-10? Verse 7 warns that we can be lead astray by those who teach other than this: That those who do what is right are righteous, just as Christ is righteous. Verse 10 says, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” Verse 8 tells us, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil”, which means we cannot be of Christ. Verse 9 says that we cannot go on sining if we have been born of God –which is to possess His Spirit and His divine nature. 2 Pe. 1:3,4 confirm this and so do these verses: Eph. 2:11 which teaches that the sinful nature has been circumcised off of us, and Gal. 5:24 which says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”, and Rom. ch. 6 which tells us we have died to sin (v. 2), having been freed from it (v. 18) through wholehearted obedience to the Truth (v. 17), and so are now slaves to obedience which leads to righteousness (v. 16), which leads to holiness (v. 19), which results in Eternal Life. (v. 22)

To claim to know Christ while also resisting His power available for conducting ourselves in full obedience to Him is to deny Christ (2 Tim. 3:5 // Titus 1:16), and if we continue there we will eventually incur God’s wrath against us. (Mt. 7:26,27 & 24:48-51 // Heb. 4:11 // 2 Pe. 3:17) Heb. 10:26-31 speaks of this also and from verse 29 we can see that this is a possibility included for those once sanctified.

How do you interpret Rev. 3:2? Jesus says there, “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of My God.” He is talking to a church about their deeds. How do you interpret Ja. 2:24? It says, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” Verse 22 teaches us that faith is made complete by what we do –our behavior. Verses 17 and 26 state that faith without deeds is dead and useless. In other words, there is a faith that does not save.

Are you saying that we can be wicked if we have once been saved? Gal. 5:19-21 tells us that those who behave with impurity, discord, rage, envy, etc. will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9 tells us, as well, while listing various sinful behaviors, that “the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Verse 11 says, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified…”, meaning the wicked deeds are in the past. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17) As Rom. 6:21 says, those shameful acts result in death, while verse 19 insists they are only of the past. 1 Pe. 1:13-17 reminds us that conforming to evil desires is the behavior of ignorance (v. 14), and thus commands us to live our lives in reverent fear (v. 17) and to be holy in all we do. (v. 15) And as verse 22 tells us, we are purified by obeying the Truth.

How can you say it is not about our deeds? How would you interpret Rom. 2:5-11? Verse 6 says, “God will give to each person according to what he has done.” (See also Rev. 3:15,16 & 20:11-15) “For God does not show favoritism.” (Rom. 2:11) God is going to judge deeds and the result is wrath or honor and reward. (v. 7-10 // Mt. 25:14-30) Laziness, neglect, willful ignorance, and any kind of disobedience –God considers this rebellion toward what He has provided for our victory over sin –which is His grace (Titus 2:11-14), His Living Word (Heb. 4:12 // 1 Pe. 1:23), and His Spirit’s power. (Eph. 1:19 & 3:20 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4) For if we walk in the Spirit, we will, by the Spirit’s power, keep the sinful nature dead (Rom. 8:13 // Gal. 5:16), but if we do not, we will perish. (Luke 13:3 // Rom. 8:13,14 // Gal. 6:8)

Well, I could go on, for I see in the Scriptures multitudes of warnings that if we refrain from doing the works ordained for us to do throughout our lives (Eph. 2:10), refrain from denying Self (Luke 9:23) and everything (14:33), refrain from proving our repentance by our deeds (Acts 26:20), then we will be turned away at The Judgement. (Mt. 25:1-13 // Luke 13:23-27 // John 5:29 // Eph. 5:5,6) It is a daily choice throughout life to live, no longer for ourselves, but only for the will of God. (2 Cor. 5:15 // Gal. 2:20 // Heb. 3:6-19 // 1 Pe. 4:1,2) I recognize this is not what is taught in the Lukewarm Church –which will be vomited out of God’s mouth (Rev. 3:16) because of her pitiful deeds and attitudes. (v. 15,17) But it is what is taught in God’s Word.

After you read the (many) verses I’ve included, I hope you will tell me how you interpret them, particularly the specific ones I asked about.

Thank you for your comment.

In Christ,
Rachel

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God Used Evolution?

February 8, 2018

Friends,
Did the universe begin with a big bang consisting of hydrogen and helium? If so, where did those elements come from, and how did they turn into planets and stars and trees and animals and people? Were the creators time and chance and natural selection? Or, if we are Christians should we leave out that idea of chance and the word “natural”? Can we believe in evolution while also believing that God was the One orchestrating the process? Just how much was He involved? Evolution is about a random, unguided process, so how do we reconcile that with God’s guidance of the process?

Furthermore, how does (or did) life come from non-life? How did the first living cell (that which is way more complex than a factory) appear from non-living chemicals? Is this occurrence a true possibility? The Law of Biogenesis tells us it is not –that life can never, ever come from non-life. Oh okay, so God was the One who made it happen, supernaturally.

What about the genetic information that makes up all living things, but varies with each kind? Can one kind ever change into another kind? How could it when we know that no new information is ever added, including when mutations occur? With mutations, a loss of information occurs, but none is ever added. So a certain kind of animal can change to a degree, but having limits, it always remains the same kind of animal. Horses can be bred to be faster, have longer manes and tails, have prettier markings/colors, or be bigger or smaller, but they remain horses. New information in the DNA coding cannot be added, so a horse can never become anything other than a horse-type animal. How then could a horse have evolved from a “lower” or different kind of animal, or before that, from something like an ameba, which supposedly before that came from some kind of chemical soup? Time and chance and natural selection could never cause this to happen, not to mention that transitional forms of life, not being able to function, would just shut down and die. Oh, but for the theistic evolutionist, God created everything this way, right? Or again, should we say that He did not use chance and purely natural selection, but that He did use lots and lots of time as He guided the evolutionary process, and this by means of disease, suffering, violence, and death?

And what about God’s (supposed) use of billions of years? Does this match with what God’s Word says when Gen. 2:1-3 tells us that God completed His creation of the heavens and the earth by the seventh day, on which He rested, and with Ex. 20:11 & 31:17 which say the same? For Ex. 20:11, right there in the Ten Commandments –specifically the fourth one about resting on the Sabbath Day– says, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day.” Those are God’s own words and they are very clear, as are His words in 31:17: “…for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He abstained from work and rested.” The “six days” means six literal 24 hour days, for when clarified by a number, the Hebrew word for “day” (which is “yom”), never means anything different.

Are we actually being told by many Christians that Moses recorded God’s words incorrectly and that God really meant something like, “For in six million-plus-year segments I created…”? Are we to believe that even though we are told that the Lord knew Moses face to face and spoke to him in clear words, not in visions, dreams, or riddles (Num. 12:6-8 // Dt. 34:10-12), Genesis chapters 1-11 (the chapters of controversy), which Moses recorded, cannot be interpreted literally –as historical narrative– though the rest of Genesis is allowed to be? Who commands this of us? Is it not those who are trying to reconcile an anti-God worldview with God’s Word, even though the two are in stark, irreconcilable opposition to one another? What spirit is it that says, “Has God really said..?”

But it’s obvious science, a friend said to me recently, that the earth is millions of years old, that the fossil beds prove this, and that the layers of rocks tell this clearly. But why would she think this when there are at least 300 scientific reasons that show she is wrong about the earth’s age? The massive bone beds found all over the world, bones of all kinds of animals thrown together violently, speak of a global flood, as do the marine fossils found on mountain tops. Large, petrified tree trunks standing vertically through rock strata (layers evolutionists tell us are each millions of years old) reveal that the layers had to have formed before the tree decayed.

That the earth is young is supported by both scientific reasons and Biblical. Therefore, believing that God created the universe the way Scripture says He did –by merely speaking it into existence over the course of six days– comes by both faith and logic, certainly for anyone who claims to believe in the inerrancy of the Word of God. As Heb. 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God’s word, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16) and is Jesus Himself who is the Word. (John 1:1,14) The Scriptures, then, are of Supreme Authority and must be honored, believed, and submitted to as the inerrant revelation that it is. Jesus Himself modeled this attitude and behavior for us and He quoted the Scriptures (which He had at the time –the Old Testament) as fully authoritative. In combating deception and falsehoods, as well as in teaching, Jesus would say, “As it is written…”

Sadly, many who claim to love Jesus and the Scriptures actually deny their claim through their dishonor of the Word of God. (Titus 1:16) For not only are they careless about studying it and obeying it, they literally reinterpret it to suit their pre-conceived ideas and those philosophies which make them, they imagine, more popular with the world. (John 5:37-47) Of course the world is not impressed with double-minded, inconsistent-minded Christians, but even more importantly, God considers those in friendship with the world to have hatred toward Him and to thus be His enemies. (Ja. 4:4) This should be warning enough to alert us to the futility of holding to the “foolish wisdom/philosophies of the world” (see 1 Cor. 3:19,20) which, cursed by God (1:19,20) can never enhance our faith (2:5) or our knowledge of the Truth. (1:21)

Thus we are warned, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise.” (1 Cor. 3:18) Whether or not the world calls us fools, we who have chosen to believe God’s Word over men’s words are those who are growing in wisdom, for we have the mind of Christ that can learn from Christ. (2:16)

In contrast, those “Christians” who run on in their own wisdom, or in that which they’ve learned from the world, are those who have stepped off the Path of Truth. 2 John 1:8,9 give strong warning: “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes beyond and does not continue in [abide in] the teaching of Christ does not have God.” Are we not being cautioned that falling for false doctrine and refusing to repent of it exempts us from God and our reward? Verses 10 and 11 go on to say that welcoming such people is to share in their “wicked work.”

Why then is there so much camaraderie with those who teach falsehoods, especially when we are told to be separate? (2 Cor. 6:17) Is the admonition in 2 Pe. 3:17 rejected which warns, “You therefore, beloved, since you already know this, beware that you are not led away by the error of the lawless and fall from your own steadfastness”? Do we think that falling from the Truth is not possible? This says that it is possible, and the previous verse (v. 16) warns that distorting the Scriptures can reap for us destruction. Indeed, claiming that Jesus is one’s Lord, or doing certain works –well, neither of these is enough. (Mt. 7:21-27) Instead, it is only by persevering in the True Doctrine and applying it under the control of the Holy Spirit, that a person can be saved. (1 Tim. 4:16; see also Rom. 8:14 and 1 John 2:15-17)

And what is this “destruction” which is reaped because of sin, including the sin of bringing the way of truth into disrepute? (2 Pe. 2:1-3) Is it annihilation, as some teach? It would be foolish to gamble on that. Jude 1:12,13, when describing the destiny of self-centered, shameful shepherds (teachers), say that for them “blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” We are told in Rev. 19:20 that the beast and the false prophet “were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” and in 20:10 we are told that the devil will be thrown there as well, this verse ending with, “They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” How can continuous torment be matched up with the doctrine of annihilation? Oh, some say, this is only for the worst. But is it? Jesus said that the rich (and neglectful) man, after he died, went to “hell, where he was in torment.” (Luke 16:23) The rich man himself referred to it as “this place of torment” (v. 28) and said, “I am in agony in this fire.” (v. 24)

2 Thes. 1:8-10 says that those who do not know God or obey the Gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord. Jesus says that these who are shut out are cursed (Mt. 25:41) because of their neglect toward Him and others (v. 42-45) and will thus be assigned a place in eternal punishment (v. 46) in the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (v. 41) Jesus says that even those who have once been His servants, if they turn wicked (24:46-49), will be “cut to pieces and assigned a place withe the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 51) Jesus says that “at the end of the age, His angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and that all who cause sin and all who do evil will be thrown into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (See 13:41,42,49)

Even so, there are many who are saying, “Let’s reinterpret what Jesus / the Word, is saying, for He couldn’t mean what it appears He means, because it’s just too harsh. God is a God of love.” Others say that at the very least we should not let unbelievers know we teach such things.

So, is God’s Word open for any interpretation, or is it crucial that we understand and adhere to what is actually being taught by Jesus, the Word? Scripture makes it clear that it is the latter. As Isa. 8:20 says, “To the Law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, they have no light of dawn.” And the next two verses, along with the context (v. 11-22), warn that those who follow the way and wisdom of the people, will reap a wandering distress until they are thrust into utter darkness. Truly, whatever anyone teaches must to be examined carefully against the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) for all of God’s words, unlike man’s words, are true, flawless, eternal, and trustworthy. (Ps. 12:6 & 19:7-10 & 119:160 // Luke 21:33) Knowing the Scriptures, believing them, and applying them is what is able to make the simple wise (Ps. 19:7), able to warn us and reward us (v. 11), and able to make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)

So, are these true, flawless, eternal, and perfectly trustworthy words that make up Scripture a description of the New Testament only? This would be foolish to believe in light of the numerous instances that Jesus and His writers quoted the Old Testament, for in doing so they confirmed for us its correct theology and validated for us its account of history, including Genesis chapters 1-11, which “Christian” liberals distort in order to make it fit into their religion of evolution –that faith which teaches that life came from non-life and that if given enough time, one kind of creature can evolve into a very different kind of creature. (This they believe even though DNA information cannot increase with mutations, but only decrease.)

Jesus told us to understand and believe the Old Testament and He said that if we have trouble believing what Moses wrote, we will have trouble believing His words, even though He would rise from the dead. (Luke 16:29-31 // John 5:46,47) Jesus rebuked even those who were eager to believe in Him: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25) “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (v. 27) Later “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (v. 44,45)

Let us ask God to open our minds to His teaching, to clear out all the false philosophies of men, and to help us submit only to what Jesus, the Word, says is the Truth.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Jesus Is God’s Full Deity

November 21, 2017

Friends,
Last Thursday while I was witnessing downtown, a black woman came up to me to ask me some questions. She was a small, sweet, grandma-type, and one thing she asked was how she could know that she was interpreting the Scriptures correctly. She mentioned that she watched a lot of preaching on T.V., but she clarified that she meant concerning when she would also read on her own.

I began to answer by talking about how the Holy Spirit, who is God’s Spirit and Jesus’ Spirit (John 14:17,20,23) and who is in the Word (1:1-4,14 & 6:63) explains Scripture’s teaching to us. (14:26) She looked confused and I wondered if I should warn her that ingesting the doctrine of (most) T.V. preachers can cloud our minds with confusion so as to disable us from understanding the clear words of God; but I refrained in case she was unready to hear that.

Somehow though, Ruby (not her real name) diverted my explanation about how to interpret correctly to what she thought was alarming regarding what I said about the Holy Spirit. “Jesus is the Father’s Son,” she said. “He’s not God.”

“He is God’s only begotten Son,” I responded. “But that is in regards to Him being born as a human. Jesus is fully God and the fullness of God.” (Col. 2:9 says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”, but I didn’t get a chance to quote this. Nor did I get a chance to quote Col. 1:15,16 which says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God and that by Him all things were created.)

“Well, He is God with a small ‘g’,” Ruby argued.

I told her that no, Jesus is Himself the One God Most High, and that Isa. 9:6 says that the Son will be called “Everlasting Father”; but I only got halfway through a sentence on this.

Ruby was getting agitated. “Are you saying that when Jesus rose from the grave, He resurrected Himself?!”

I was trying not to agitate Ruby but I had to say yes. (I could have read John 2:18-22 & 11:25 and Rev. 1:17,18 to her for starters.)

“Oh no!” Ruby countered. “The Father resurrected Him.”

Just then another person came up and asked me a question. I tried to answer Ruby first, but off she walked in a huff. I felt really bad for her.

And I feel bad for all the people who have this issue confused.

Let’s go back to the Old Testament. Besides Isa. 9:6 there are many other verses that reveal that Jesus is the LORD / Yahweh / YHWH / YHVH. One is Isa. 45:5 where the LORD says, “Apart from Me there is no God.” So the only other gods there are, are false gods, even demons. (Dt. 32:16,17) In Isa. 45:21 the LORD says, “And there is no God apart from Me, a righteous God and a Savior, there is none but Me.” In Isa. 43:10,11 we read the LORD declaring, “Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from Me there is no savior.”

The LORD is stating very clearly that He is the only true God and the only true Savior. Therefore, since Jesus declares this of Himself (John 3:13-18 & 8:58 // Rev. 1:8 & 22:12-16)… since Scripture declares this of Jesus (John 1:1-4,14 // 1 Tim. 2:3-6 // 1 John 5:20)… then Jesus is Yahweh. And Yahweh is the Father, the LORD God Creator (Gen. 2:1-9 // Ex. 20:11), the Spirit who created all things (Gen. 1:1,2 // Ps. 104:30) –He who created all things through Jesus (Heb. 1:2) who is the image of (the bodily form of) and the exact representation of Yahweh. (v. 3) Yes, Jesus is the bodily form of the Father and it is Him, the LORD / Yahweh, who physically ate with, spoke with, and stood with Abraham. (Gen. ch. 18) It is Jesus who Isaiah saw and with whom he spoke. As Isaiah says in Isa. 6:1, “…I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted…” and in verse 5 Isaiah cries, “Woe to me! …my eyes have seen the King, the LORD [Yahweh] Almighty.” John 12:41 confirms for us that He who sat in glory on His throne, whom Isaiah saw and spoke with, was Jesus.

I could go on (like with Mark 12:29 and Eph. 4:4-6 and others), but I encourage everyone to study and grasp who Jesus really is. Jesus says in John 8:24, “If you do not believe that I AM, you will indeed die in your sins.” We do not want to be confused and close-minded like Ruby. We need to know who Jesus is and get to know Him well (which comes through trust in and obedience to the Truth / Him), for Jesus taught that Eternal Life is contingent upon this intimacy. (John 8:31-36 & 17:3) Jesus is fully God, the full image of God, the full and exact representation of God’s whole Deity. Jesus is the only Savior and the only God, always and forever, and this we must believe and take hold of unwaveringly.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“‘The church will be inhabited forever and the church through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in the church!” (Joel 3:20,21) Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. Maybe these verses actually say this: “‘Jesus will be inhabited forever and Jesus through all generations. His bloodguilt, which God has not pardoned, He will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Jesus!”

Those who adhere to Replacement Theology tell us that all the passages in the Old Testament where God made promises to the Israelites regarding their nation, the physical land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem are promises that have, since Christ’s resurrection, been removed and transferred to “the true church of Jesus Christ” (or, for those who take the brand of Fulfillment Theology, to “Christ Himself”). But can their teaching be the Truth? –Even as they contradict the statements of God?

The above is how the Replacement/Fulfillment Theology adherents have to read Joel 3:20,21, unless of course, they choose to believe that God breaks His promises. But here is what the verses actually say: “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!”

Is God promising in these two verses something regarding the Jews’ homeland or should we believe that it refers to the church’s homeland? What is the plain meaning? Who is the promise, which God is giving through the prophet Joel, being given to? Certainly it can be seen that the whole of the book regards the Israelite nation and its separateness from all other nations. This is especially obvious in verses 1-3 of chapter 3 where God promises to “restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” and “gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat” so that He can enter into judgement against the nations for what they have done to His people, His land, and His inheritance.

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is a literal place that separates Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, so if God foretells that His judgement against the nations will take place there, it is a falsehood to teach otherwise. Moreover, if the Lord says that this is “concerning My inheritance, My people Israel,” (Joel 3:2) then it seems that only pride or ignorance would cause someone to teach that God actually meant, “My inheritance, My people, the church.” Does such a teaching make sense when God goes on to say, “for they scattered My people among the nations and divided up My land”? (Same verse) How exactly have the nations divided up the land of the church so as to make God angry?

God promises again in Joel 3:12 that He plans to, and will, judge all the nations when they advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. He promises in verse 16 that He will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem even while also being “a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” In verse 17 He says, “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, My holy hill.” These three verses alone reveal that God claims the hill of Zion as His, states that He dwells there, and states that He is the God and Fortress of those He is addressing, the people of Israel. The rest of verse 17 shows God saying, “Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.” This is a further promise to the people to whom Joel was preaching –that their capital will one day be holy and forever free from all invasion. Considering history, verse 17 informs us that this promise is for the future, as does verse 18 which promises abundant prosperity and another (physical) situation that is future: “A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the Valley of Shittim” –likely by irrigation means. However, for Egypt and Edom, a desolation is decreed. (v. 19)

So now we arrive again at Joel 3:20,21 which we began with: “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!” This cannot refer to the church or to Jesus. The true church, since they are truly in Christ, has already had its bloodguilt pardoned, and Jesus has never had any bloodguilt, for He is, always has been, and always will be, perfect. Thus Joel 3:20,21 can only refer to the people who inhabit Judah, Jerusalem, and Zion whom God names as His own.

“Never again will My people be shamed.” God promises this in Joel 2:26 and again in verse 27. In verse 19 He promises, “Never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations,” while verse 18 states, “Then the LORD will be jealous for His land and take pity on His people.” It says, “His land” and “His people”. In verse 20 God declares that He will drive the northern army into a parched land and into the eastern and western seas, creating a stench. References to armies and geography should necessitate that this be read literally.

The book of Joel was, and still is, a message to Israel specifically, not to the church specifically, and certainly not to Jesus. It is a call for Israel to repent that they may be spared when “the day of the LORD” comes upon mankind. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy hill.” (Joel 2:1) For, as God says, “A nation has invaded My land, powerful and without number…” (1:6)

The book of Joel is “The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel.” (Joel 1:1) “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (2:32) Yes, “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!” (3:20,21)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
We are to believe the Truth, for adhering to false doctrine won’t save any of us. (1 Tim. 4:16) Yet many seem unconcerned about diligently studying the Truth and what God expects of us. In fact, many who claim to follow Christ also claim that God expects nothing of us because Jesus has done it all for us –has made us perfect in God’s sight, forever and sealed. To do the works God prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10) is apparently, to them, an option, not a requirement for remaining in Christ (though Jesus informs us that it is required –John 15:2,10). They do not believe they must walk obediently in God’s will in order to be in right standing with Him and thus be allowed eternal life. By this unbelief they are unbelievers in the Word of God –that Word which repeatedly tells us of this necessity, such as in Mt. 5:27-30 & 7:21-27 & 12:50 and John 8:31-38 and 1 John 2:15-17 and Rev. 2:4,5 & 3:14-16.

We need to realize that we are to “fear God who… has the authority to throw into Hell” (Luke 12:5) for “God does not show favoritism but accepts people from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34,35) Ja. 2:24 is crystal clear: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Verse 22 is clear also as it tells us that faith is made complete by what we do, because, as verse 17 already informed us, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is useless.” We must face such verses and not ignore them.

Titus 1:16 should serve as a warning to all who think they are in right standing with Christ: “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” 1 John 2:3,4 says similar: “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The person who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the Truth is not in him.” If the Truth is not in someone, then Jesus who is the Truth (John 14:6) is not in that person. Only unification with Christ’s Spirit, which comes by obeying His commands (1 John 3:24) saves eternally. (John 15:1-10)

Should we become over-worked and over-anxious? No, for we do have our “Sabbath rest” (Heb. 4:9) who is Jesus, through Whom we do works. (v. 10) Even so, we are to “make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (v. 11) Disobedience to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and leadings will, let’s make no mistake about it, jeopardize our inheritance of Eternal Life. (Rom. 8:9,13,14 // Heb. 10:26-31) As Jesus says, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” (John 15:10) And in verse 9, He already made the command, “Now remain in My love.” Jesus is informing us that the responsibility is ours to remain, though yes, that the power is Him and that through Him we will bear fruit. (v. 4,5) However, Jesus also warns us that the Father “cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit.” (v. 2) In verse 6 He warns, “If anyone does not remain in Me, he… [will be] thrown into the fire and burned.” We remain through obedience to Christ’s commands and Spirit. (v. 10 // Rom. 8:9 // Heb. 10:35-39) But, the person who has mistreated “the blood of the covenant that sanctified him” (Heb. 10:29) –that is a once saved person– should expect only Hell. (v. 27) For the cross does not cover that once sanctified person who continues to sin. (v. 26,29 // John 8:34,35 // 2 Pe. 2:20-22 & 3:14-17)

God’s Word is not only for our comfort and our guidance, but also for warning us of Hell. It’s not meant to be a feel-good message for those who wish to remain in disobedience to God’s Spirit. Heb. 5:9 says that Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”

Truth does not fit into our belief. Instead we must align our belief to the Truth.

Sincerely,

with love,
Rachel

Friends,
For those of us who are bewildered about the actions and words of those who belong to the Church of Christ, and for those, as well, within that denomination who wish to understand better why they are ostracizing themselves from others who uphold God’s Word, there is an excellent pdf book, written by insightful men within the CoC itself, which we can study. I have been reading through it this month and it is quite enlightening. It confirms what I have experienced in the past as well as recently, for instead of accepting that friends will, and can, differ in their interpretations of some passages of Scripture, there seems to be an insistence that others come to see their beliefs as being undeniably right. To this end many CoC people work, oblivious, or maybe just unconcerned, as to their combative, insensitive style, and to the betrayal others may feel when they realize that the CoC adherent’s main goal is making a convert rather than that of maintaining a friendship.

Should we not try to persuade others to believe what we are convinced is the Truth? Yes and no. Yes, when we are making a clear declaration that that is our main goal and are leaving it open for others to choose to listen or not, to share with us their beliefs and why they have those beliefs, and when we can drop those matters which cannot be agreed upon. However, if methods are employed such as condescension, intimidation, coercion, or deception, then the one “evangelizing” is not operating in the Holy Spirit, but rather in the sinful nature.

Gal. 5:19-21 makes that clear. There it tells us that the acts of the sinful nature are obvious and that along with such sins as sexual immorality, witchcraft, and fits of rage, the sins of discord, dissensions, and factions are also those sins which will keep a person from inheriting the Kingdom of God. In the pdf book I’ve mentioned that I’m reading, it is admitted that the CoC has many factions, that this is due to much infighting, argument, and contention, and that the majority perpetuate this behavior as if it is admirable to do so. This is largely discussed from chapters 14 on to the end, all of which I’ve read.

Now I am reading through the previous chapters, which I earlier skimmed. Letting their readers know that unity, not divisiveness, was the goal of the CoC founders, these authors lament that the exact opposite has come about. Here are three excerpts and I encourage everyone to read these carefully, noting how off course the CoC denomination has since gone:

~~From p. 31: It is ironic that a Movement that began as an effort to unite the Christians in all the sects should itself become the most divisive of any persuasion in Christendom. It would be like Quakers evolving into bitter warmongers or like Pentecostals becoming apathetic to the call to holiness. Not only did our pioneers preach unity, they also practiced it. The union effected at Lexington could only have occurred among people who were prepared to accept each other despite differences and to honor the right of private judgment.

~~From p. 37: It was here that Stone showed his magnanimity. Realizing that he had been too speculative in his handling of scripture, he resolved to cool it. He went on record as agreeing that there is but one thing necessary insofar as faith is concerned, for union in Christ, and that is believing that Jesus is the Son of God. And there is but one act that is required for entrance into the fellowship of the church, and that is immersion. Campbell had long stressed this believing the one fact, obeying the one act as the basis of fellowship, and Stone accepted it. Stone, however, never really believed in baptism as “essential to salvation,” the view that eventually emerged among the Campbellites, though Campbell himself avoided stating the idea that strongly. Stone’s definition of a Christian will interest you: “Whoever acknowledges the leading truths of Christianity, and conforms his life to that acknowledgement, we esteem a Christian.”

~~From p. 41: Then there are some that will draw the line on a sister or brother for taking a drink. I do not take drinks and I suppose I do not approve, but in the light of scripture do I have the right to impose my view upon others, demanding that they see it my way or be thrust from the fellowship? The scriptures clearly make drunkenness a sin, and I know of no one that disputes that. Here we can agree. But to deduce that one cannot therefore take a cocktail with his meals without sinning is to go beyond what the Bible says. The teetotaler may be right, but as Thomas Campbell liked to put it, he cannot impose his deduction upon others until they see it the way he does.

Where Scripture does not give a clear-cut command, we should never think we have the right to infringe upon others what we believe concerning those debatable issues. In the first four chapters of 1 Cor. we are warned about factions that tout one teacher over another. No, we are to follow Christ alone (3:21-23), for He is our only Master and Teacher (Mt. 23:8-10), our only Spiritual Authority (20:25,26), and the only Mediator between us and God. (1 Tim. 2:5) Moreover, the Lord alone is our Judge (1 Cor. 4:4), and we are not to judge the conscience or motives, nor the debatable beliefs and actions, of another one of Christ’s servants. (v. 5 // Rom. 14:1-4) “Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.” (Rom. 14:16) And so that “you will not take pride in one man [and his doctrines] over against another” (1 Cor. 4:6), definitely “Do not go beyond what is written [in Scripture]” –!!! (Same verse) In spite of these warnings, the CoC continues to invent strict rules that are not stated in the Word of God. In the future I will address some of them.

Here is the link to the very helpful pdf book:

https://cecilhook.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/ourheritage.pdf

Again, I want to point out that this pdf book is written by those within the CoC but who see where their churches are erring and how they are hindering the furtherance of the Gospel. Those who are in the CoC should find it helpful and freeing, and so should anyone else who is being intimidated to believe as that denomination says we must.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel