Part 2 of 2

Peter makes it clear that it's our faith that is to be tried. What did you think would be tested during these manifold trials? Why do you think God has established a system here on earth where His people, those who make a contract with Him, would suffer persecution and heaviness? Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever been told what it is God is placing in His people? If not, give it thought now. It is important that you know and understand.

5And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4:)

What is it you believe in? What is it that you believe that will save you? Is it your belief that Jesus was real and that He died for your sins? This is not the belief God is looking for. The Israelites in the wilderness had every reason to believe in God. He was leading them by miracles and signs and wonders. He spoke to them directly. They believed in God. Yet we read here that they did not believe, and it was their unbelief that kept them out of God's rest. If you think you believe, and you think you believe in such a way that is wrong, won't you suffer the same consequences as did the Israelites?

11And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have showed among them? 12I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. (Num 14:)

31And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. 32Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, 33Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. (Deut 1:)

What is the belief that God is looking for? What is it that was missing in the Israelites and the disciples that we must be lacking ourselves? What is it that might keep us out of God's rest that we had best learn and understand?

10He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:)

8For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; (2Cor 1:)

9This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. 10For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 11These things command and teach. (1Tim 4:)

18That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. (1Tim 6:)

We used to sing a song that said: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey." These words are true, but they're not complete. In addition to happiness, there is no other way by which we will be with Jesus in eternity but to trust and obey.

My dictionary adds to the definition of belief: "Trust, confidence." It's our trust in the Lord that is being tried. Belief is not an intellectual assent to the existence and the reality of Jesus. Belief is a full reliance on His Words, and His willingness and ability to do what is best for us. In addition to this, as we can see in the lives of the Apostles: It is not our interest that God is concerned with our learning to trust Him. It's the total purpose of God, His eternal plan that He has before us He is primarily concerned with. We are a tool that He uses to fulfill that plan, just as Jesus was. What's in it for us if we allow ourself to be used (and abused by the world) as a tool? We will be given eternal life with our Eternal God. I for one think that is a good trade-off. How about you?


We live a life of disbelieving in miracles, of doubting the Bible and everything in the Bible because our society, our schools, our media, and even our government rejects the Bible and scoffs at it. "God is dead" we hear, if He ever existed. Man is god. This life is all we have, live it for all it's worth. Go for the gusto.

Then one day someone convinces you to become a Christian. You take the oath, you're baptized, and ZAPP, you're now a full-blown believer.

What is belief? What is faith? A child fully believes the Bugs Bunny cartoons are as real as you and I. Does that belief make the false a reality? Neil Armstrong took a flight to the moon. Who's belief in the reality of the moon do you suspect holds the most credence, his, or ours?

It's through experience we gain faith, that we learn to believe. And it's the hard knocks we as Christians take that we gain the experience that brings on belief.

When we say we want Jesus to give us faith, to make Himself real to us, what we're asking for is the experiences the disciples endured, both before and after the crucifixion. We're asking to be tested, to be tried, like in the song we sing so freely and easily.

12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1Peter 4:)

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2Cor 12:)

3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2Tim 4:)

There's an old expression that goes: "Be careful what you ask for, you're just liable to get it."

I suspect what I'm saying here does not fit what you've been taught in the past. If this is the case, then examine my reasoning very closely, and very prayerfully, because who knows, I might just be all wet. And you can be assured that I'm not going to take responsibility for your wrong conclusions and actions, even if it appears that I caused them, when I can barely handle all my own.

5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? ["Castaway, rejected, unapproved] 6But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. (2Cor 5:)

Unapproved? Castaway? I think it might be a good idea to see if we're really in the faith, or if we're merely deceiving ourself. What do you think?

"I invite Jesus to become my Savior and the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward." How long do we mean by "This day forward?" Are we saying we want Him to rule over our life until He says we must stop delving into the things of the world, the things that entertain the flesh rather than the Spirit? As I read the Bible this was a requirement from the get-go, that is, that we separate ourself from the world and the things of the world.

I think most of us have no concept of that it means for Jesus to rule over our life, nor do we even believe He will. If the teachings of the modern churches, those traditional and mainline churches are to be believed, then we have no way of knowing if the Lord is leading us or not because we don't have to change anything about our life. It's always been my understanding that a changed life, the evidence of a person's salvation which gives us confidence of our conversion and salvation, is that person's movement away from the life they once lived. Is that your understanding? If so, what is there about your life that demonstrates such a change?

Jesus said:

26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30I and my Father are one. (John 10:)

The Lord's sheep hear His voice, and they follow Him. Following Jesus mean taking up our cross daily, doing what He tells us to do, both on a daily basis, and through the Word. If we're settling back on a lounge chair in front of a wide screen TV, rather than doing the Lord's work out in the fields of the world, can we have confidence that we are indeed listening to the Lord and following His voice? And if we're not following Him, then what does that say for our status as one of His sheep? And if we're not one of His sheep, what are we?

As demonstrated above, we need to examine ourself, and our life to see if we are actually one of the Lord's sheep, or if we're merely one of the world playing church and fooling ourself.

"Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You." Here is an especially touchy subject. Ok, you believe the Bible, you believe that Jesus was born, lived, performed miracles, and died for you on the cross. But a Spirit? A Spirit that comes and lives in us and guides us? Come on now, do you really believe such a thing? Look into the mirror, into your life, into your heart, and see if you can find a spirit in you. Did you try it? Did you find a spirit in you?

2I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. (John 16:)

18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:)

You're walking along the street one day. Someone invites you into their church. You hear a sermon, a sermon that doesn't particularly make any sense to you, but you somehow feel convicted. The pastor asks if there is anyone who would like to come forward and receive eternal life. That sounds good to you, it's free and you've got a few minutes. You go forward, and ZAPP! You are now a Christian promised eternal life in Heaven.


The pastor tells you that you are now a child of God. You're an heir to the Kingdom. Nothing can steal that reward away from you. You can't even leave the Father's hand even if you wanted to.


Ok, you accept that. It doesn't cost you anything to believe what you're told, just as long as you don't have to miss any of your golf days or your ball games on the tube. That would be costly. Maybe even too costly to achieve eternal life.

Jesus was born, performed many great miracles, was crucified and resurrected Himself. We have a three year span of time, even more counting the lives of the Apostles, wherein the most amazing things ever to be recorded was accomplished, yet there is very little, if any, scientific or historical evidence of this occurring. Yet you believe it nonetheless. Ok, you'll bite. It costs nothing to "believe." So believe you do. At least your family will get off your back and quit hounding you to join the church.

Jesus was born of a virgin. Sounds kind of farfetched, but you've heard stranger things than that on U-Tube and in Science Fiction movies. So again, you won't balk at the idea.

Jesus is God. There is one God, but there are three Gods all rolled up into one package. Hmm. Odd, but it doesn't cost you anything to believe this, even though the explanations for such a thing makes no sense to you and disagree with all logic. Ring up another sale on the "Belief" receipt.

There is a Spirit that will come and guide you for the rest of your life, a Spirit that you can't see or feel, and that you have no way of knowing if He is there or if He is a fairy tale. Now, just hold on here! That's going a little too far! Who can believe such a thing? But you're told you have to believe this unbelievable thing or else you can't reap the rewards offered the "converted" Christian. Well, it doesn't cost anything to believe, so why not? Ok, you add this to the unbelievable things you believe.

Does this describe your "conversion" to Christianity? It does mine. And I suspect it describes many other conversions as well.

Consider: one aspect of the conversion process is that we suddenly lose the freedom of choice we had as a none believer. We had total free will, then all at once the Holy Spirit takes over and we are not our own any more. Does this fit with your understanding? Tell me, are your actions, your interests, your direction any different than they were when you had free will? Who, then, is in charge of your life? Remember, you've lost your free will. Your will is now the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. This means that all your thoughts, your attitudes, and your mistakes are the fault of God, not of you. You haven't failed when you sin, God has failed. Is there a hole in my logic do you think? I think there is, and that is why I'm not going to say that God has taken over my will, but that I still retain it, and my errors. When I falter, when I go astray, when I rebel: I am the one who has to correct my ways and return to the Lord for correction. We're told that those who endure to the end will be saved (Mat 10:22; 1Peter 3:17-18; Rev 2:10). Yet we're taught in the churches that there is no possibility of our failing if we've been "converted." Do you see a conflict here? Or is it just me?

Have you ever watched a flock of sheep or a herd of animals? There is a lead bird (or animal) and all the others follow that lead bird. When the lead bird changes direction, they all follow and change as well. Sometimes you'll see a bird or two not make the change, then when the bird realizes it is on it's own, it suddenly makes a turn and joins the flock. Does the lead bird or animal know where it's going? Sometimes, sometimes no. For instance a herd of goats. If a goat farmer wants to lead a herd of goats to the slaughter, he wouldn't get behind them and drive them as he might a herd of cattle. Instead he would use what is called a "Judas goat" which would take the lead and guide the herd to the butchering station. Duck hunters use decoys to entice the unsuspecting ducks to their hiding place. The decoy gives the impression that all is at peace in that location, whereas in fact that may be the only dangerous place on the lake.

Jesus referred to His followers as "sheep." Sheep are a herding animal. They will follow their leader wherever that leader takes them. Sheep also have an instinct similar to a dog. Dogs know their master and they trust their master. If they hear the voice of someone other than their master they sound a very audible alarm and work to protect their master. Sheep do not have such a brave or loyal nature, but will instead run away if they sense something or someone other than their master.

We by nature are followers. Those who desire to take the lead, such as politicians and the like, are inclined to have selfish motives for doing so. Being sheep, we do not look to lead, but we look for someone to follow that seems to know where they're going. We want someone to take the responsibility of thinking off of us. We want someone to tell us what is right and what is wrong. And if someone comes along who will take such a lead, we will follow that person to the pit if necessary.

Cultures are made up of two elements: there's the fashion setters, and there's the fashion fans. The fashion fan only desires to be in fashion. If that means thrusting a bone through the nose, then so be it. If it requires one to run naked through the street, "streaking" we used to call it, then that we will do as well. How about Tattoos? TV programs? We do what is popular. When I was young it was all the rage to stuff a group of us in small areas such as Volkswagens or a telephone booth. They still have telephone booths, but the only one who uses the booth it seems is Superman. What happened to all the telephone stuffers? The fashion has changed. It's not the "thing to do" anymore.

The other group of people we find are the trend setters. Of course we all know the trend setters have their client's best interest at heart (here's where you give the old belly-laugh folks. Don't let me down.).

Watch in church. Someone says "stand," and everyone stands. "Sit," everyone sits. "Sing," we all sing. "Wave your hands in the air." "Roll on the floor and speak in gibberish." What if someone behind the podium said "Simon says everyone jump." What do you suppose would happen? You'd see everyone jump in spite of their crutches and their wheel chair. That's just the way we sheep are. We don't like to think.

What if I feel like standing while everyone is sitting? All eyes turn toward me as if I was an oddball. Because I don't want to be considered an oddball, I remain sitting even though the blood is being cut off from my feet by the seat. We are sheep, and we do what we're told, whether it makes any sense or not.

In the Army I learned to stay exactly in step with the fellow in front of me. Did he know where he was going? Or why? Not at all. He was staying in step with the guy in front of him.

From a child we're told to do what we're told to do, and not to question what we've been told. My father used to say: "When I jump, you holler!" Being a rebellious and free thinking type of person, I found myself in trouble a lot. If you don't want to be in trouble a lot, do what you're told, in spite of the consequences.

If those we associate with say there's a ghost inside of us, directing our every move, and telling us about the future, then we accept this as fact, even though we don't believe a word of it.

Have you been told the future by your guiding Spirit? Have you been led into a better understanding of the Bible by the One you have received? Do you feel Jesus and the Father within you? Don't you think such an occurrence would make quite a change in your life? Has it? If none of these changes have taken place, then what in the world are you placing your "belief" on? Does your belief come from the words of a man standing behind the pulpit who seems to exhibit no more signs of having such an experience than you have? Or are you one of the very few who are following the commandments of Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself, to surrender your lusts and desires and take up you cross daily, to study the Word and instill it in your heart? If you feel driven to make these changes, then just maybe you have in fact received the Holy Spirit and you understand what I'm telling you.

Why the "Just maybe"? Because just maybe you belong to a church that Simon says that's "The thing to do," and therefore you do as Simon says.

"And to convict me when I sin." You're watching your favorite TV program, the one that you hope you're not discovered watching. You're chomping down potato chips and sucking on a big milk shake. Nothing wrong with this, except you know the movie your watching is something that you would blush deeply if your church knew you were watching it. You're a diabetic and your blood count has been reading in the 200's lately. And you have exceptionally high cholesterol. Not to mention that you tip the scale to a degree that it says "ouch" when you step on it.

When you took your oath you said you wanted to be convicted when you sin. What is sin to you? Do you really want God to tell you that the things you're doing, the things you like to do, is against His will, and He wants you to stop it?

As you sit back enjoying your day, you feel a pang of guilt surge through your body. You think a moment, and you wonder what you're experiencing. Maybe it's just gas you think. So you continue on with what you were doing. The pang grows stronger. You take an antacid tablet. The pang continues. What do you do? If you continue on the path your on, which you probably will, the pangs of conscience will eventually disappear, and you'll feel you're home free. You might even conclude that God accepts what you're doing because He hasn't struck you with lighting. This is what is called the state of having one's conscience seared as with a hot iron. You've successfully integrated the world with your Christianity. You've "Quenched the Spirit." You are no different than the world, than you were before your conversion, but you feel totally confident that you are securely in God's hand. And you have many people, all good church people, supporting you in your confidence.

Seen from this perspective, does this position look all so secure as you imagined it to be? How does this state of being fit with the oath you took?

"I pledge to grow in grace." Paul said:

8For by grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:)

14Follow peace with all men, and HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD: 15Looking DILIGENTLY LEST ANY MAN FAIL OF THE GRACE OF GOD; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (Heb 12:)

7Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18But GROW IN GRACE, AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2Peter 3:)

You've probably been reading these words through the man standing behind the pulpit. Read them for yourself, from your heart, and learn what God is trying to tell you.

By grace are ye saved through faith; Grace and faith go hand in hand. We looked at faith and found it not to be such a simple thing as is taught. Faith is something we work at, not something we've been given full-blown at our baptism. Grace we will see is the same way, it must grow as well.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Why were we created? So God can spend His days trying to satisfy our selfish needs? What are our works that will be judged in the end? The Bible demonstrates, and fully explains what the "Good works" are that God will be looking for in us. Are you performing these good works? Or have you been taught that works don't count in the game of Christianity?

Follow .... holiness, without which no man shall see the lord: We're taught that we're automatically made holy when we're baptized and said the sinner's prayer. Is that the impression you're getting as you read this study? If you are getting that impression, then I'm failing in my responsibility.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of god; Fail from the grace of God? Did I read that right? Maybe you'd better check it out in your own Bible. Maybe mine has a misprint. That can happen you know. If it wasn't a misprint, don't you think it's something to look in to?

As Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. What morsel are you selling your birthright for? Is it your TV show? Maybe it's your seat at the Superbowl. Or maybe it's your career or your position in the community. Or maybe it's your family? What is it you place ahead of your Lord. Is it your church? Maybe its your good works, your volunteering your services, or even your giving up all you have to the poor:

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1Cor 13:)

6But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:)

When we strive to allow the Holy Spirit to perfect us (we can't do it on our own) we are taking on the personality and the purposes of God. Jesus is like God the Father. We know this. And we are to be as Jesus is. We know this as well. What gets lost in the transition is the means for accomplishing such an essential goal.

There are none righteous. And more than this, there are none that call upon His name. We, each of us, have to change this picture the best we know how. If we, from our heart, work toward that goal, God will take us the rest of the way. The disciples, as we see, tried to achieve this goal on a human level, even with the support of Jesus at their side day and night. They were able to perform the function of Jesus' mission such as raise the dead and cast out demons, but they couldn't be like Jesus until they received the Holy Spirit and followed the Spirit's direction. We have this same advantage. What stops us from fulfilling this purpose is our unbelief. And we will retain our unbelief until we learn to recognize and admit that our belief is woefully lacking.

Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. Being told you're in the wrong by striving to work past the doctrines of the church, and to recognize there is far more to the Christian experience than is being taught, is one way a person can be held back from their steadfastness. Jesus said:

15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Rev 3:)

God does not like fence straddlers. Either we're all the way for Him, or we're not even in the running. We can't play in the world, where God has lit a fire, and expect that we won't be burned.

We see from this that those who play both ends against the middle are blind to their condition, and they need to repent and become zealous for God. Jesus gave us the parable of the sower and the seed to demonstrate that some people can be zealous in the beginning, but after a time, for one reason or another, fall away from the faith. Our teaching today, all too many of them, teach that this can not happen, that once saved always saved. I can't see that picture in the parables or in the teachings of the Bible.

Lukewarm is the state of the Church today, and it will grow worse. There are some churches, such as those called the cults, who are much hotter than are the others. But they lack what it takes to be hot off the griddle as well. If this be so, where does it leave all the other churches that the cults far outstride in the area of zeal and sacrifice?

Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our lord. Do you think this might also be a misprint? Grow in grace? How can we grow in something that we've been fully given?

We saw that faith was given to us in a less than perfect form. The faith itself, just as the grace, might be perfect, but we, the vessel these have been placed in, are not perfect. Grace and faith grow as we allow ourselves to be taken over by them, and they are perfected in us.

Concerning the flesh and the Spirit. There's a story about a man who had two fighting dogs. One dog was white, and the other dog was black. A man asked the owner of the dogs which one would win in a fight. The man said: "The one I feed."

This is true of us as well. if we're feeding on things of this world, satisfying our lustful desires, the flesh will overcome us. If on the other hand we're zealously seeking the things of the Spirit, then the Spirit will overcome us and we will then have become overcomers. What is an overcomer? An overcomer is a person who has overcome the world, the desires of this world, just as Jesus did. All rewards go to the overcomer, not to the one who allows the world to overcome them.

"And knowledge of you." Because you truly meant these words you spoke after much contemplation and self examination, I assume you spend a great deal of time in the Word and in prayer. Your life centers around the Bible and your church. Your favorite part of church is not the parties and the buffet, but the sermon and the Bible study groups. Have I described you? If not, why not? Didn't you mean the words you vowed to God Almighty? If you didn't mean those words, and if you're not following through with those words, what do you suppose God is thinking about you right now?

"My greatest purpose in life is to follow your example." Look at yourself. What kind of example are you setting for the world, leastwise for the church? And what kind of representative are you for the Lord you promised to serve? You are the only Jesus most people of your acquaintance will ever see. You, by taking on the name of Jesus have stated that you are striving to be just like Him. Does that TV program your watching represent Jesus and His purposes? How about the history cache of your computer browser? Anything on there you'd prefer no one ever saw? How is your mouth? Does it need washed out with soap once in a while? Are you a father or a mother your children can feel proud of? Are you a son or daughter your parents can be proud of?

If we fail to serve the Lord as His ambassador here on earth, in public and in private, what are the chances that we will not be welcomed by the One we promised to represent to His people?

"And do Your will for the rest of my life." You may have taken this vow a hundred years ago. It still within the realm of time you offered your promise. Are you still keeping it? Consider these Words from your Lord:

4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Rev 2:)

I have a bad habit of falling away from the will of God. It's easy for me to forget my promise to the Lord. I should rephrase this statement: I don't forget, I don't keep in mind the importance and the impact of my promise. If I regard my promise made long ago sufficient to carry me through, I'll fall flat on my face in a short time. I tried rededicating myself every time I fell, but that I found was of little value because I would again drift from import of that dedication. Little things, insignificant things would enter in to my life and eventually I would find I had passed my determination barrier, and into myself I would fall.

I now rededicate my vow every week, and I re-examine myself day by day, moment by moment. I try to remain at point zero in all aspects of my life so any deviation will be noticed and dealt with immediately before it progresses into the next stage. So far this is working. But because I am such a weak, self-willed person I can't assume I will continue on this path as I should. I'm tired of failing. And what's more, I know the consequences I must face for my failings.

Is your pastor a Mason?

Mine is. And he openly states that he is high in the Freemason organization.

What's your impression of the Masons? Do you know anything about them or other such secret organizations? It's not my purpose here to point the finger at the Masons or any other organization. They all do good work helping mankind. And so do the Humanists, which is their purpose and goal, the betterment of mankind. What I want to point out is that the Masons, as do all other organizations, take an oath:

"I do most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, without the least equivocation, mental reservation, or self evasion of mind in me whatever; binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea at low watermark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours; so help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same."

This is a serious oath that's being taken here. It's not as serious and long lasting, nor the consequences as severe as those who have taken the oath when they became a Christian, but it's a bit more obvious what will become of those who break their promise to the Masons.

Notice the use of the word "God." Like our courts, the Masons do not recognize a god per se. That is, you have to believe in a god, but it can be any god you choose. Also, you place your hand on a sacred book, but it can be of Hindu origin, or voodoo, or even a Christian Bible. They don't care about your religious belief, only that you believe in something.

There's a lot said about the Masons, how much is true I don't know. Nor am I going to speculate. What you've seen here is the tail end of the oath the Masons take. If you want to investigate farther that's up to you. I understand that the oaths become more explicate as a person progresses in the organization.

My point is, people take oaths. Sometimes those oaths are taken when very young, too young to know what the oaths mean, nor do they even know they have taken an oath. Babies baptized before thy can even confess their sin, or know what sin is, is one example of such a procedure. Another is the implanting of a chip in a child so they can be found if lost. What if that chip turns out to be the Mark of the Beast as is so popularly believed? What chance does that person have to escape the eternal penalty for having the mark thrust upon them?

Children grow up in cultures. The culture and the family train that child to conform to the society they live in. To be different, in some cultures, and during certain time frames, meant death. If a child grows up in a Humanist home, they will become a Humanist regardless of what they may see against Humanism in their own life. A child who grows up in a Christian home, let's say a Catholic home, will naturally be a Catholic. We "raise up a child in the way we think they should grow." If we're wrong, the child suffers our error as will we. If we learn later in life that we've been wrong, and we try to correct that erroneous thinking in our child, we find it's too late and they now see us as a heathen and lost because we left the belief we taught them.

We can't treat our beliefs and our oaths lightly. We are bound by them in spite of our having changed our mind in regards to the substance of the oath(s) we've taken. This is one of the reasons I am against the practice of the churches whereby they offer free salvation to any and all who take the oath or sign a pledge without a full understanding of what they are taking on to themselves. And the way the churches stand today, they are unable to give a true picture of what is to come of those who take such an oath because they do not know the consequences, or the facts themselves.

14And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2Thes 3:)

15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Mat 18:)

13Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. (Titus 1:)

15These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. (Titus 2:)

5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1Cor 5:)

When the leaven is at the top of the heap it has even more devastating and widespread effects. When we see a teacher instructing the children in the ways of witchcraft, sexual orientation and Humanism we shudder. But that's the world. How much more so is it a tragedy when our churches, our bastions of morality teach us and our children the ways of the world?

23And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths. (Ezek 44:)

16Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. 17And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 18Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Mal 3:)

11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Rev 20:)

25There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, LIKE A ROARING LION RAVENING THE PREY; THEY HAVE DEVOURED SOULS [see 1Peter 5:8-9; Rev 12:8-14] ; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. 26Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Ezek 22:)

20Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, (Isaiah 5:)

3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, TURNING THE GRACE OF OUR GOD INTO LASCIVIOUSNESS ["Filthy, wantonness"], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 5I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:)

Take careful note of what is being said here. The churches are being turned into places that teach "lasciviousness." Lasciviousness by definition means "Lustful." In our churches today it is being taught that once a person is baptized they can do whatever they want and not have to pay the consequences. Those who do not live up to the moral code as outlined in the Bible are not only allowed into the congregation of the churches, but more and more of the churches are allowing them to preach from their pulpit. In school the children are taught sexual behavior that would have been unthinkable not many years ago. Today such behavior is considered "Under the blood" in the churches. It may be spoken against, but never condemned. It may be suggested a person refrain from such activity, but it is not condemned or seen as a lump of leaven that will (and has) leavened the whole loaf. "Don't ask, don't tell" has become the motto of the churches, as it has so many of the organizations of the world that try to cling to any form of morality at all.

What is your feelings about the condition of the churches? Are you appalled? Are you thankful that "liberty" and "Acceptance of everyone, sinful or righteous" has now permeated the churches? There are those churches that are proud of their lack of restriction, feeling they have fulfilled the true purpose of Christ's death on the cross.

Paul says to speak out against such people, those who have compromised the churches. But where does one speak out against something that is all-invasive? I see it much like speaking out against Nazism while living in the midst of a Nazi regime.

The modern concept of Christianity is so widespread and cemented into the thinking of Christians that to even mention the idea that their doctrines might be wrong brings about closed ears, if not outright anger. I find it useless to say anything to the ones who are under the sway of the potentates of the churches.

What about the elders of the churches? Maybe the pastors themselves would be open to the possibility that they have their doctrines a little off. After all, we see very clear signs of the result of dogmatism in the Pharisees, and in the early Catholic church, and where such thinking can lead. I should think this would be so, but I haven't found it to be as I would assume.

1Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. (1Tim 5:)

17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:)

Besides it not having any effect except to stir up problems in a church, it's unbiblical to go about making accusation, albeit accusations that are well supported by Scripture. I found long ago that everyone in a church (or any organization) is nailed in a box of tradition and doctrine. Someone desiring to assist a person out of their box only opens themselves up to contempt and resistance. Moses is a prime example of someone who set the captives free, and experienced abuse and death threats for his efforts. And certainly we have the prime example of this in Jesus.

No, trying to work with the heads of the churches has proven less than useless. All I can do if I want any influence at all is to attend a church and present a good example.

I have had the misfortune of having to go through intense psychotherapy. And I've had the great fortune of going through psychotherapy. No, I didn't stutter, though I dread the reason for my having to go through the therapy, what I learned from the experience was invaluable.

What I learned was the importance of self-examination. I learned that if I want to change, I have to take a look at the deep, dark chambers of myself I hate to admit exists, even to myself. It is in those dark corners where the true me actually resides. It's in the lustful, the selfish parts of me where demons hide and wield their powers.

It's taken a lifetime of self-examination to even begin to understand who and what I am. And I suspect it will take several more lifetimes (no, I don't believe in reincarnation) to alter the person I have become.

But I'm trying.

Trying is the big word, and an even bigger word is recognizing the necessity to examine one's self and see what needs changed.

The Bible is very clear on the subject of self-examination, of making changes that will bring us into conformity with God's will, and God's own personality. But instead of obeying the injunction to make these changes, we change God's Words to say such self-examination and change is unnecessary, and even evil in some churches.

6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; (Isaiah 53:)

6My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. (Jer 50:)

What is God going to say to those who lead His sheep astray? Have you given it any thought? How about what He's going to say to those who follow such a doctrine of rebellion and resist His Holy Spirit?

And, how does all this fit with the oath we took?

The other day I was down on my knees, experiencing anger. And I didn't know what I was angry about. It was then it became clear what my anger was directed toward:

Zapp! Like waving a magic wand over a person and they automatically become perfect in God's eyes. Immediately all reason for making changes in one's life is lifted from them, and they become "whole," in spite of the filthy rags they wear.

It's my friends, my family, and me before I recognized what was happening that has been blinded by the waving of this magic wand. And it makes me angry to think that those who wield such a wand, such power over the eternal destiny of those who follow their pernicious ways are not even willing to look into the possibility that they are dooming possibly thousands of people to the very same fate they claim to be saving them from.

12But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; 14Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot

cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet. 17These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Peter 2:)

Did you by any chance notice a very important oath missing from those described in this study? Consider: A Boy Scout who violates his oath might endanger the safety of the old lady he's helping across the street. A doctor may well hold the life and the health of his patient in his hands. A soldier who does not keep his promise to serve his nation to the best of his ability might create a weak spot in the command he serves under. These are not obligations to take lightly to be sure, but there's a large classificaion of people with an even greater responsibility than these.

In my search for oaths, I specifically tried to find an oath given to those in the ministry. Other than certain Catholic oaths, I found none. I find it strange that a Boy Scout with nothing but a grade school education has to take an oath, yet a pastor with numerous years of intensive study does not. Here we have a man (and now even woman) who hold sway the very eternal souls of many people, who insist that a person under their jurisdiction listen to, agree with, and follow their every dictum as being the Word of God. Their job, their responsibility, the career they have taken upon themselves, is to teach the Words, the purposes, and the demands of God. Yet they themselves do not make an effort to insure that what they teach is in fact the Word of God and not mere denominational doctrine and tradition. Is this not the error the Pharisees made that Jesus condemened? Didn't they place blinders upon themselves that prevented them from looking beyond what they already accepted as true?

52Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. (Luke 11:)

No, I'm not advocating an oath for pastors. It would be less than useless. There is no one with the understanding of God's Word to make sure the pastor taking the oath is knowledgable or capable to teach the Word, and no one to police the pastor to see that he follows the oath he took.

No, the only oath any of us have any control over, or should be concerned with, is the oath we ourselves have taken. We will rise or fall according to our own actions and intents of the heart. Having a perfect pastor, one possessing all skills, knowledge and understanding of the will of God will not help us in any way if we aren't doing what we have been instructed to do, both in the Word, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God.

12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. (Rom 14:)

17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:)

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