Absolute Truth Can Be Known.

Absolute truth can only be known totally, perfectly, and absolutely by the transcendent being who is the origin of that truth. His creatures, by their nature as lesser beings, created by Him, can only know what He has made them capable of knowing. This is also true of their ability to perceive, reason, understand, and communicate.

Then we must factor in the effect the curse had on Adam’s progeny due to his sin in the garden. We are born enslaved to a sinful nature, and are destined to suffer injury, disease, and death due to his sin, known as original sin, and our own individual sins. Sin also has affected the way we perceive, reason, understand, and communicate. This is known as the, “noetic effect” of sin.

When we consider these two ideas, it might seem that it is impossible for us to know absolute truth. This would be incorrect. God has made us able to know of absolute truth, just not perfectly, absolutely, or totally. We can know that God exists, fire burns, and the wind blows. We can even understand how combustion works, and what the source of the wind is, but to know them as God does is impossible in our current state and even in our glorified state.

If you look at an apple on a desk, you’ll see an apple. If you use a magnifying glass, you’ll see the pores on the skin as well as the blemishes. If you use a microscope, you’ll be able to see the cells of the apple. Advanced technology allows us to look at the micros and macros of the cosmos in ways that were never before possible for us. No matter what technology we develop, we will never be able to perceive things the way that God does.

God wants us to know Him. He has given us the creation to see His work. He has given us the progressive revelation of His word for us to know Him. In the person of the Holy Spirit, He makes His word understandable to us. In the person of Christ Jesus, He has made it possible for us to be justified to Him, to be adopted as sons and daughters. The Bible says this about Jesus, “…He is the image of the invisible God…” (Col 1:15) It also says, “…For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…” (Col 2:9)

If you’d like to know absolute truth, in as much as you can, I encourage you to think about your guilt as a sinner. Consider how holy God is as the sovereign Creator of everything. Think about His perfection in all of His attributes. Repent of your sins. Forsake them. Turn from them towards Christ. He is your only hope. “…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”…” (Acts 4:10-12) “…Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”…” (2 Cor 6:2)

What does, “Give me your tired,” mean?

Statue of Liberty

We are all familiar with the poem, “New Colossus” on the Statue of Liberty. If not the entire poem, at least this portion of it,

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

To many it has become a mandate as if it were part of the, United States Constitution. In actuality it is just a nice sentiment expressed in a poem, on a statue given to us as a gift by the French. It is a noble ideal, but does it include those who would seek to destroy our nation, and way of life? Does it include criminals entering our country illegally? Does it include criminals fleeing justice from their own countries? Does it include religious fanatics seeking to impose sharia law, and overthrow our Republic?

This country was built on the labor, and force of will executed by immigrants seeking a better life, freedom to worship God as they chose, not as they were compelled by the government. We enjoy our reputation of being the land of the free and home of the brave. We like the idea that people endeavor to come here to better their circumstances, to enjoy the American dream. We tend to forget though that it isn’t our Christian duty to offer sanctuary to any and all comers, all of the time. There are times when our national security and the safety of our allies supersede our desires to open our doors and arms to immigrants.

When it is prudent, and reasonable to allow immigration, we should. As Christians, we should want goodness for others. We should be glad to extend the hand of friendship to them. There is nothing wrong with rewarding those who seek to do it legally and for the right reasons. There is also nothing wrong with not rewarding those who would exploit us and enter in illegally. When I talk with liberals, many of them seem to think it is a moral mandate to accept even those who would kill us. They insist that we reward people who are here illegally, people who have knowingly flaunted our laws in our faces.

It seems they have changed the poem to,

“Give me your lazy, your poor,

Your malevolent masses yearning to spill blood,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the criminal, radicalized Islamic flood,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I’m pretty sure the moral of the poem isn’t to accept every person who wants to come, but rather to extol the virtues of a nation that has been a land of opportunity for people looking for a better life.  I hope people can understand this notion before they tear down the statue of liberty as a misplaced symbol of their ire.

“…and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed…”

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“…and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed…”

Remember, God can save who He wants to save.  The Jews saw the gentiles as dirty compared to themselves.  The next time you are tempted to look down on someone because of their race, or some other reason, and think that salvation can’t be for them, remember the Jews and gentiles.  God will save anyone He has determined to save.  He doesn’t try and then fail.  What He sets out to do, He accomplishes.  Paul was a murderer, not just that, but a persecutor of Christ’s Church.  After his conversion he thought of himself as the chief of sinners, yet he was born again.  Christ put him off his horse, blinded him, while making him see, and then made him an Apostle.  Ananias feared Paul and didn’t want to go to him initially until God told him this, “15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;” Jesus made Paul His slave, and Paul loved his Lord and Master.  Paul brought the gospel to the gentiles with passion and fervor from the Lord, and the Church was built, with Christ as the Chief cornerstone and the Apostles laying the foundation, by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of the Father.

44The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 45But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. 46Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

47“For so the Lord has commanded us,
‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES,
THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.’”

48When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. 50But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:44-52 NASB)

The Sovereignty of God in Salvation According to Acts Chapter 11.

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In the first part of Chapter 11 we read that Peter, who was a Jew, and an Apostle of Christ, was in Joppa when he had the vision about the sheet with the unclean animals being dropped down. As a Jew there were animals he was not permitted to eat as they were considered ceremonially unclean. Now, without the context of the surrounding scriptures one might assume that this section of scripture is about making all foods acceptable to eat, although it is true that we can eat anything as long as we give thanks for it, this section of scripture should not be used as a prooftext for that truth. We would cite Mark 7, and 1 Corinthians 10 for that support.

This section of scripture is actually, about the gentiles. As of this time they were not considered by the Apostles when the gospel was preached. In this vision Peter was being prepared to preach the gospel to even the gentiles. We know the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It is the means to that end. We also know that people cannot know it unless someone comes to them to preach it. This notion was confirmed to Peter when the men sent to him by the Roman Cornelius arrived.

In verse 14 we read, “and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.” This is in regard to Peter and what he will say to the gentile household. Notice what happens? he will speak words… by which you will be saved… For everyone who is a fan of friendship evangelism read that over and over again.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It must be preached with words. “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (NASB Strong’s) Romans 1:16-17. It is the means God has ordained by which to save the elect.

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”
16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (NASB Strong’s) Romans 10:14-17. You’ll notice that the gentiles received the Holy Spirit after they came to faith for it says in verse 17 that they believed first. “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” You’ll also notice that it is God Himself who gives them the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not imparted by a Priest or any man. He is not imparted by a ceremony, or some tradition. Those He indwells, He indwells by the will of the Father. In verse 18 we also see that the repentance that leads to life is granted by God according to His will, and the work of Christ on the cross as expressed in the gospel that was preached to them. “When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

The Word of God is truly wonderful. When we know it, and are informed by it, we can make decisions that are faithful to God. We are called to do what is right as Christians. Preaching the gospel of Christ is our mission. Repent and believe!

Peter Reports at Jerusalem
1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem,  those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, 6 and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ 10 This happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. 11 And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; 14 and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” (NASB Strong’s) Acts 11:1-18

The Will of Man, Transcendent God, and Unfolding Time.

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I know many people have a difficult time understanding how God could have already made everything in our futures a reality without violating our will, or making Himself ultimately guilty for what we do. Just like many of the theological problems we have, I think this also comes from our finite nature as well as being under the noetic effect of sin. I would like to explain how it could be that God has ordained or determined everything in eternity, and we remain culpable for our sin. Remember, this is just one way I think it could be. I am not certain, but it does seem reasonable to me.

We live in space-time. We experience life instance to instance, moment to moment like a line drawn through and connecting many drops of water on a surface. The drops are moments in our lives. The drops ahead are truly there. They are actual, but not yet realized by us. As such, there is truly only one path, not many. There are not infinite numbers of alternate realities, only one actual one not yet realized by us as creatures moving through space and time.

As we pass from one instance to the next, the two are connected. We have lived and are living in a seemingly linear progression to the grave. Once we die we stop experiencing time in this fashion. We move from these many instances to one infinite instance, an age without time, eternity with God. God is the Creator of time. He transcends time, and is not bound by it the way we are as creatures. For us time is an unfolding progressive revelation of what is already actual. For God I think that in eternity He has already done everything. The future, our futures are determined. We don’t experience life that way here in the material world, but in eternity it is fixed.

Think about God’s word and prophecy. When an Old Testament prophet spoke, he said, “Thus sayeth the Lord.” Then, the prophecy came. Some of us might think that when that was happening the prophet was merely telling the future. In a sense he was telling the future, but more accurately he was telling us what God had already determined in eternity about our linear experience of life bound by space and time. Since the Bible is completely revealed to us, and Christ is the word incarnate, we no longer have prophets that speak new things to us. A modern prophet quotes the Bible out loud to people.

Our experience is one where we make choices in keeping with our natures connected to each instance in space-time. When we are fearful of the future, we are saying that we don’t trust God to get it the way we want it. We should be thinking about how we can glorify God in each moment that He has already made actual when we experience it. We experience thinking about what choices to make, what the consequences could be, what the rewards of our choice could bring, and we make decisions, as well as experience the consequences of those decisions.

God is not surprised at all by our decisions or the results. He has every person who has ever lived, all their instances, all of yours and mine, from past, present, and future, all woven together in His sovereign will to work out for good. If we trust that God is truly good, and truly sovereign, and realize how sinful we are contrasted to His holiness, then we can start to see that His will is the best.

The fuller truth about our volitions is that transcendentally they are working according to God’s sovereign decrees and ordinances. The creaturely experience of an unfolding space-time is limiting and useful for God’s purposes. In it, He gives us one moment to the next to learn about ourselves, the world, Him, His gospel, and His elect will respond to the gospel. In the limits He has set for us, we grow and are sanctified. It is a process He determined to use, and is good.

So trust the one true good and sovereign God with your future. Make your decisions, and experience the results, but don’t unhinge your culpability to blame God for your experiences. It is not a paradox to use your will, but ultimately have your will predetermined in eternity. It is only paradoxical if you have a lower view of God, and your own sin.

Let’s face it, our wills are the problem. Our goal is to become more like Christ. I’ve sorrowed over my sins, and truly asked God to replace my wicked will with His so that I no longer desire sin. In eternity when we have our glorified bodies, we won’t sin. Does that mean our wills will be replaced with a Godly one? What would that look like? You can find out. If you haven’t already, repent of your sins. Trust the work of Jesus who while on the cross made atonement for the sins of the elect. He finished the work there and justified those He was saving to God. Repent and believe.

Have you ever felt like you are not an adult, like you are just pretending…

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Have you ever felt like you are not an adult, like you are just pretending to be your idea of what an adult is? Do you wonder if the others are going to see through your facade and know that you are just playing at being an adult? My standard of what a man should be has always been my Father. He has been dead for about 4 years now. I know he would tell me he is proud of me, and that I’ve become the man he hoped I would be. He never showed us any doubt. He was always so outwardly confident, or perhaps that is the way it seemed to a child’s perception. I know he did have doubts and fears. I know he confided in his Wife. I have done the same thing. I wonder though, if the strength he portrayed to us wasn’t there, what kind of man would I be? Because of my Father, I can safely say, I am a more godly man than I would have been without Him. Because of His example, I took several, I mean several leaps of faith to do what I thought would have been the right thing, the thing Dad would have done, or been proud of. Ladies, this can apply to you and your godly mothers as well. I know my Dad wasn’t perfect, and he made mistakes that he privately regretted, but he was as good a Father to me and my Brother as he could have been. Now that Dad is gone, I don’t feel alone, or on shaky ground. Why? Because I’ve got another Father. A perfect Father who is not flawed. I have a Father who gave me and my Brother, and our Mother, the perfect man to accomplish His will in our lives. Dad might not have been the adult that we saw with our little eyes, and thought of with our childish minds, but he was the man that God used to bring us to Him. Dad was strong and compassionate, he was hard and thoughtful, he was self-sacrificing and forgiving. It was so much easier for me to see the character of Christ in a man most people would have called marginally Christian, than in many who put on a good show of being an adult. God the Father, in His perfect knowledge and sovereignty, “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Because of who God the Father is, I had the human Father He wanted for me. He used my Dad to lead one of His elect to Him. I was so lost as a young man. I loved myself more than anything or anyone else. I loved my own pleasures, and hated those who would deny me. Now because of the memories of my Father, and the testimony of the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit, I am a partaker in God’s grace. I have been adopted by the true Father of all who are born again. I and my Dad, are brother’s in Christ. I hope to see him again in eternity, and worship the Lord Jesus, with him as well. I hope and pray that my Brother, and his family, my oldest Step-Son, my present, and future Grandchildren, and all of you will be with us to, as brothers and sister, unified in love, and the love of Christ Jesus. We all have doubts and fears in life. We are uncertain at times, but look to God, fix your eyes on Jesus, and what He did for you in His life, crucifixion, and resurrection. There is one God, and only one way of salvation, it is Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins, and believe. He will grant you new life and make you a new person, just like He did for me. I’m not always assured and confident in my position, but I am so confident and sure of God, and because He is good, I know that whatever I go through in life is for my sanctification. It is to shape me into the the adult man, that He wants me to be. I hope that when I am dead, the people whom God has given me to be with will be able to say the same about me that I have said about my Father.

What Does James Teach us About the Tongue?

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It should be evident through our human experience that what we say in passionate discourse, driven by our jealousies and self ambitions, is sinfully disordered. (James 3:13-18)  We can say, scream, or spitefully whisper, things that should not be said.  These things can destroy relationships, ruin opportunities, and discredit our witness.  The enemy is the father of lies.  When we allow our tongue to run unfettered it does the work of the devil.

Let’s take a look at what God says about the tongue in the book of James.  He says that it is, “tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity”  In this context, fire is destructive.  It destroys and consumes everything it touches.  It defiles the entire body.  It sets the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.  Wow, and ouch!  It sets the course for our life?  Yep, by the sinful, undisciplined, words that come out of your heart and mouth, your entire life’s course is changed.  Look at how many public figures careers have been ruined by something they said, or how many Evangelist who were caught by an open mic saying something unbecoming.  It is set on fire by hell.  That paints a very scary picture in my mind.  It is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  How many times have you poisoned someone by saying words out of a selfish position?  How much hurt have you caused to those you love by expressing your sinful heart’s passion recklessly?  I know I am guilty of of it for sure.  I look back and regret the hurt and injury I inflicted with my words.

Like Jesus said, “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” (NASB) Matthew 15:17-20”

With it we curse men who are made in the image of God.  This indicates our elevation of ourselves.  It demonstrates how we see ourselves better than other men, more entitled, and deserving.  What did Paul say, “ It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (NASB) 1 Timothy 1:15

James quotes the psalmist when he says, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (NASB) James 4:6  So what instruction can we receive from the scripture?  Are we hopeless to control our tongues?  The scriptures are clear that we can have our sinful natures changed by the work of God.  Christ’s work justifies us, and the Holy Spirit brings us to new life.  As the new man learns and grows, he can, and will have more success battling against the destructive self-centered overflow of the heart.  This is due to the Holy Spirit’s work applying the truth of God and His word to our hearts.  We have new hearts, with new desires and affections.  As these begin to rule and dominate, we are conformed to the likeness of Christ our Savior.  We begin to speak wisely, and gently.  We aren’t perfect, but by God’s grace we are justified and sanctified.

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by  hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. (NASB) James 3:5-12

Wisdom from Above
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly,  natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the  seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (NASB) James 3:13-18