Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Deity of Jesus Christ by Dr. R. A. Torrey

The following is a treatment by Dr. R. A. Torrey on the Deity of Jesus Christ; it is in full, and unedited. This publication is preparatory for a larger body of work, soon to be published on TTUF on the Deity of Christ Jesus ("JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel") and a link to this treatment will be included in one of the segments of series.


The Deity of Jesus Christ
by R. A. Torrey


"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?..." Matt. 22:41-42.
The question that our Lord Jesus puts here to the Pharisees is the most fundamental question concerning Christian thought and faith that can be put to anybody in any age. Jesus Christ Himself is the center of Christianity, so the most fundamental questions of faith are those that concern the Person of Christ. If a man really holds to right views concerning the Person of Jesus Christ, he will sooner or later get right views on every other question. If he holds a wrong view concerning the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is pretty sure to go wrong on everything else sooner or later.

"What think ye of Christ?" That is the great central question; that is the vital question.

And the most fundamental question concerning the Person of Christ is — is Jesus Christ really God? Not merely, is He Divine, but, is He actually God? When I was a boy, to say you believed in the Divinity of Christ meant that you believed in the real Deity of Christ, that you believed that Jesus was actually a Divine Person, that He was God.

It no longer means that.

The Devil is wise, shrewd, and subtle, and he knows that the most effectual way to instill error into the minds of the inexpert and unwary is to use old and precious words and put a new meaning into them. So when his messengers masquerading as "ministers of righteousness" seek to lead, if possible, the elect astray, they use the old precious words, but with an entirely new and entirely different and entirely false meaning.

They talk about the Divinity of Christ, but they do not mean at all what intelligent Christians in former days meant by it. Likewise, they talk of the atonement, but they do not mean at all the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ in our place by which eternal life is secured for us.

And oftentimes when they talk about Christ, they do not mean at all our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the actual historic Jesus of the four gospels; they mean an ideal Christ, or a Christ principle.

So our subject is not the Divinity of Christ, but the Deity of Christ; and our question is not, is Jesus Christ Divine, but rather, is Jesus Christ God?


Was that Person Who was born in Bethlehem nineteen hundred and twenty-one years ago, and Who lived thirty-three or thirty-four years here upon earth as recorded in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Who was crucified on Calvary's cross, Who rose from the dead the third day, and was exalted from earth to heaven to the right hand of the Father — was He God manifest in the flesh, was He God embodied in a human being?

Was He, and is He, a Being worthy of our absolute faith and supreme love and our unhesitating obedience and our wholehearted worship, just as God the Father is worthy of our absolute faith and supreme love and unhesitating obedience and our wholehearted worship?

Should all men honour Jesus Christ even as they honour God the Father (John 5:23). Not merely is He an example that we can wisely follow, or a Master whom we can wisely serve, but is He a God Whom we can rightly worship? I presume that most of us do believe that He was God manifest in the flesh and that He is God today at the right hand of the Father, but why do you believe so?

Are you so intelligent in your faith, and therefore, so well-grounded in your faith that no glib talker or reasoner, no Unitarian or Russellite (JW) or Christian Scientist or Theosophist, or other errorist can confuse you and upset you and lead you astray?

It is important that we be thoroughly sound in our faith at this point and thoroughly well-informed, wherever else we may be in ignorance or error, for we are distinctly told in John 20:31 that "these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

It is evident from these words of the inspired apostle John that this question is not merely a matter of theoretical opinion, but that it is a matter that concerns our salvation. It is to confirm and instruct you in your blessed faith, your saving faith in Jesus Christ as a Divine Person.

When I studied the subject of the Divinity of Christ in the theological seminary, I got the impression that there were a few texts in the Bible that conclusively proved that He was Divine.

Years later I found that there were not merely a few proof texts that proved this, but that the Bible in many ways and in countless passages clearly taught that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh. Indeed, I found that the Doctrine of the Deity of Jesus Christ formed the very warp and woof of the Bible.

Divine Names

The first line of proof of the absolute Deity of our Lord Jesus is that many names and titles clearly implying Deity are used of Jesus Christ in the Bible, some of them over and over again, the total number of passages reaching far into the hundreds. Of course, I can only give you a few illustrations at this time.
Turn with me first of all to Revelation 1:17,

"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last."

The text shows clearly that our Lord Jesus was the speaker, and here our Lord Jesus distinctly calls Himself "The First and the Last."

Now this, beyond a question, is a Divine name, for in Isaiah 44:6 we read,

"Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

In Revelation 22:12, 13, our Lord Jesus says that He is the Alpha and Omega. His words are,

"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

Now in this same book in the first chapter and the eighth verse the Lord God declared that He is the Alpha and the Omega. His words are,

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."

In I Corinthians 2:8, the apostle Paul speaks of our crucified Lord Jesus as "The Lord of glory." His exact words are,

"Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."

There can be no question that "The Lord of glory" is Jehovah God, for we read in Psalm 24:8-10,

"Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah."


And we are told in the passage already referred to that our crucified Lord Jesus was the King of glory; therefore, He must be Jehovah.

In John 20:28 Thomas addressed the Lord Jesus as his Lord and his God: "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God."

Unitarians have endeavored to get around the force of this utterance made by Thomas by saying that Thomas was excited and that he was not addressing the Lord Jesus, but was saying "my Lord and my God" as an ejaculation of astonishment, just the way that profane people sometimes use these exclamations today.

But this interpretation is impossible and shows to what desperate straits the Unitarians are driven, for Jesus Himself commended Thomas for seeing it and saying it. Our Lord Jesus' words immediately following those of Thomas are, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" John 20:29.

In Titus 2:13 our Lord Jesus is spoken of as our "great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
In Romans 9:5 Paul tells us that "Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever."

The Unitarians have made desperate efforts to overcome the force of these words, but the only fair translation and interpretation of these words are found in our Authorized Version.
There can be no honest doubt to one who goes to the Bible to find out what it actually teaches, and not to read his own thought into it, that Jesus is spoken of by various names and titles that beyond a question imply deity, and that He in so many words is called God.

In Hebrews 1:8 it is said in so many words, of the Son, "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom."

If we should go no further it is evidently the clear and often repeated teaching of the Bible that Jesus is really God.

Divine Attributes

But there is a second line of proof that Jesus Christ is God, a proof equally convincing, and that is, all the five distinctively Divine attributes are ascribed to Jesus Christ, and "all the fulness of the Godhead" is said to dwell in Him.

There are five distinctively Divine attributes, that is, five attributes that God alone possesses. These are Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Eternity and Immutability. Each one of these distinctively Divine attributes is ascribed to Jesus Christ.

First of all, omnipotence is ascribed to Jesus Christ. Not only are we taught that Jesus had power over diseases and death and winds and sea and demons, that they were all subject to His word, and that He is far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come (Eph. 1:20-23), but in Hebrews 1:3 it is said in so many words that He "[upholdeth] all things by the word of his power."

Omniscience is also ascribed to Him. We are taught in the Bible that Jesus knew men's lives, even their secret history (John 4:16-19), that He knew the secret thoughts of men, knew all men, knew what was in man (Mark 2:8; Luke 5:22; John 2:24,25), which knowledge we are distinctly told in 2 Chronicles 6:30 and Jeremiah 17:9-10, that God alone possesses. We are told in so many words in John 16:30 that Jesus knew "all things," and in Colossians 2:3 we find that in Him "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

Omnipresence is also ascribed to Him. We are told in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, that He is in the midst of them, and in Matthew 28:20 that wherever His obedient disciples should go, He would be with them, even unto the end of the age, and in John 14:20 and 2 Corinthians 13:5 we are told that He dwells in each believer, in all the millions of believers scattered over the earth. In Ephesians 1:23 we are told that He "filleth all in all."

Eternity is also ascribed to Him. We are told in John 1:1 that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In John 8:58 Jesus Himself said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Note that the Lord Jesus did not merely say that "before Abraham was I was," but that "before Abraham was, I AM," thus declaring Himself to be the eternal "I AM."
Even in the Old Testament we have a declaration of the eternity of the Christ who was to be born in Bethlehem.

In Micah 5:2 we read,

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

And in Isaiah 9:6 we are told of the child that is to be born,

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."


And in Hebrews 13:8 we are told,

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."

His immutability is also taught in the passage just quoted from Hebrews, and in the first chapter of the same book, in verses eleven and twelve, we find that while even the heavens change, the Lord Jesus does not change.

The exact words are,

"They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as cloth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail."

Each one of the five distinctively Divine attributes was ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ.

And in Colossians 2:9 we are told in so many words,

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily [in a bodily form]."

Here again we might rest our case, for what has been said under this heading, even if taken alone, clearly proves the absolute Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It shows that He possesses every perfection of nature and character that God the Father possesses.

Divine Offices

But we do not need to rest the case here. There is a third unanswerable line of proof that Jesus Christ is God, namely, all the distinctively Divine offices are predicated of Jesus Christ.

There are seven distinctively Divine offices. That is to say, there are seven things that God alone can do, and each one of these seven distinctively Divine offices is ascribed to Jesus Christ. The seven distinctively Divine offices are: Creation, Preservation, Forgiveness of Sin, the Raising of the Dead, the Transformation of Bodies, Judgment and the Bestowal of Eternal Life, and each of these is ascribed to Jesus Christ.

Creation is ascribed to Him.

In Hebrews 1:10 these words are spoken of our Lord:

"And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands."

The context clearly shows that the Lord addressed is the Lord Jesus.
In John 1:3 we are told that

"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."

Preservation of the universe and of everything is also ascribed to Him in Hebrews 1:3 where it is said of the Lord Jesus,

"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person [God's], and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."

The forgiveness of sin is ascribed to Him. He Himself says in Mark 2:5-10 when His power to forgive sins was questioned, because that was recognized as a Divine power,

"But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins."

The future raising of the dead is distinctly ascribed to him in John 6:39,44,

"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

The transformation of our bodies is ascribed to Him in Philippians 3:21. In 2 Timothy 4:1 judgment is ascribed to Him. We are told that He shall "judge the quick and the dead." Jesus Himself declared that He would be the judge of all mankind and emphasized the fact of the Divine character of that office.

In John 5:22,23 He said,

"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father."

The bestowal of eternal life is ascribed to Him time and time again.

In John 10:28 He Himself says,

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand," and in John 17:1,2, He says, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him."

Here then, we have the seven distinctively Divine offices all predicated of Jesus Christ. This alone would prove that He is God, and we might rest the case here, but there are still other proofs of His absolute Deity.

Statements Which in the Old Testament Are Made Distinctly of Jehovah, God, Taken in the New Testament to Refer to the Lord Jesus Christ

The fourth line of proof of the absolute Deity of Jesus Christ is found in the fact that over and over again statements which in the Old Testament are made distinctly of Jehovah, God, are taken in the New Testament to refer to Jesus Christ.

We have not time to illustrate this at length, but will give but one illustration where many might be given.

In Jeremiah 11:20 the prophet says,

"But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause."

Here the prophet distinctly says that it is Jehovah of Hosts Who judgest and triest the reins and the heart. And in the 17th chapter and the tenth verse Jeremiah represents Jehovah Himself as saying the same thing in these words,

"I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."

But in the New Testament in Revelation 2:23 the Lord Jesus says,

"...I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."

We are distinctly told in the context that it is "The Son of God" who is speaking here. So Jesus claims for Himself in the New Testament what the Lord in the Old Testament says is true of Himself and of Himself alone.


In very many other instances, statements which in the Old Testament are made distinctly of God the Father, are taken to refer to Jesus Christ. That is to say, in New Testament thought and doctrine, Jesus Christ occupies the place that God the Father occupies in Old Testament thought and doctrine.

The Way the Name of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son Are Coupled Together

The fifth line of proof of the absolute Deity of our Lord is found in the way in which the name of Jesus Christ is coupled with that of God the Father.
In numerous passages His name is coupled with the name of God the Father in a way in which it would be impossible to couple the name of any finite being with that of the Deity. We have time for but a few of the many illustrations that might be given.

A striking instance is in the words of our Lord Himself in John 14:23 where we read,

"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

Here our Lord Jesus does not hesitate to couple Himself with the Father in such a way as to say "We," that is, God the Father and I, will come and make our abode with him.

In John 14:1 He said,

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me."

If Jesus Christ was not God, this is shocking blasphemy. There is absolutely no middle ground between admitting the Deity of Jesus Christ and charging Christ with the most daring and appalling blasphemy of which any man was ever guilty.

Divine Worship to be Given to Jesus Christ

There is a sixth line of proof of the absolute Deity of our Lord Jesus. Those already given have been decisive, each one of the five have been decisive, but this, if possible, is the most decisive of them all, and that is that we are taught in so many words that Jesus Christ should be worshipped as God, both by angels and men.

In numerous places in the gospels we see Jesus Christ accepting without hesitation a worship which good men and angels declined with fear and which He Himself taught should be rendered only to God (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:52; Matt.14:33; Acts 10:25,26; Rev. 22:8,9; Matt. 4:9,10).

A curious and very misleading comment is made in the margin of the American Standard Revision upon the meaning of the word translated "worship" in these passages, and that is that "the Greek word translated worship denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to a 'creature' or to the 'Creator."'

Now this is true, but it is utterly misleading; for while this word is used to denote "an act of reverence paid to a creature" by idolaters, our Lord Jesus Himself distinctly says, using exactly the same Greek word, "thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," and on the other hand he says in John 5:23 that "all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father."

And in Revelation 5:8-13 the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders are represented as falling down before the Lamb and offering worship to Him just as worship is offered to Him that sitteth upon the throne, that is, God the Father.

In Hebrews 1:6 we are told in so many words, "And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."

One night in the inquiry room in Chicago I stepped up to an intelligent looking man at the back of the room and said to him, "Are you a Christian?"
He replied, "I do not suppose you would consider me a Christian."
I said, "Why not?"
He said, "I am a Unitarian."
I said, "What you mean then is that you do not think that Jesus Christ is a person that should be worshipped."
He replied, "'That is exactly what I think," and added, "the Bible nowhere says we ought to worship Him."
I said, "Who told you that?"
He replied, "My pastor," mentioning a prominent Unitarian minister in the city of Boston.
I said, "Let me show you something," and I opened my Bible to Hebrews 1:6 and read, "And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."
And he said, "Does it say that?" I handed him the Bible and said, "Read it for yourself," and he read it and said, "I did not know that was in the Bible."
I said, "Well it is there, isn't it?"
"Yes it is there."

Language could not make it plainer. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus, the Son of God, is to be worshipped as God by angels and men, even as God the Father is worshipped.

Incidental Proofs of the Deity of Jesus Christ

The six lines of proof of the Deity of Jesus Christ which I have given you leave no possibility of doubting that Jesus Christ is God, that Jesus of Nazareth is God manifest in a human person, that He is a being to be worshipped, even as God the Father is worshipped.
But there are also incidental proofs of His absolute Deity which, if possible, are in some ways even more convincing than the direct assertions of His Deity.

1. Our Lord Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Now any one that makes a promise like that must either be God, or a lunatic, or an impostor. No one can give rest to all who labor and are heavy laden who come to him unless he is God, and yet Jesus Christ offers to do it. If He offers to do it and fails to do it when men come to Him, then He is either a lunatic or an impostor.

If He actually does it, then beyond a question, He is God. And thousands can testify that He really does it. Thousands and tens of thousands who have labored and were heavy laden and crushed, and for whom there was no help in man, have come to Jesus Christ and He actually has given them rest. Surely then He is not merely a great man, but He is in fact God.

2. Again in John 14:1 Jesus Christ demands that we put the same faith in Him that we put in God the Father and promises that in such faith we will find a cure for all trouble and anxiety of heart.
His words are, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." It is clear that He demands the same absolute faith to be put in Himself that is to be put in God Almighty.

Now in Jeremiah 17:5, Scripture with which our Lord Jesus was perfectly familiar, we read "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man," and yet with this clear curse pronounced upon all who trust in man, Jesus Christ demands that we put trust in Him just as we put trust in God.

It is the strongest possible assertion of Deity on His part. No one but God has a right to make such a demand, and Jesus Christ, when He makes this demand, must either be God or an impostor; but thousands and tens of thousands have found that when they did believe in Him just as they believe in God, their hearts were delivered from trouble no matter what their bereavement or circumstances might be.

3. Again, the Lord Jesus demanded supreme and absolute love for Himself. It is clear as day that no one but God has a right to demand such a love, but there can be no question that Jesus did demand it.

In Matthew 10:37 He said to His disciples,

"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me," and in Luke 14:26,33, he says.

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

There can be no question that this is a demand on Jesus' part of supreme and absolute love to Himself, a love that puts even the dearest relations of life in an entirely secondary place. No one but God has a right to make any such demand, but our Lord Jesus made it, and therefore, He must be God.

4. In John 10:30 the Lord Jesus claimed absolute equality with the Father. He said, "I and my Father are one."

5. In John 14:9 our Lord Jesus went so far as to say, "...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." He claims here to be so absolutely God that to see Him is to see the Father Who dwelleth in Him.

6. In John 17:3 He says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." In other words, He claims that the knowledge of Himself is as essential a part of eternal life as knowledge of God the Father.

Conclusion

There is no room left to doubt the absolute Deity of Jesus Christ. It is a glorious truth. The Saviour in Whom we believe is God, a Saviour for Whom nothing is too hard, a Saviour Who can save from the uttermost and save to the uttermost. Oh, how we should rejoice that we have no merely human Saviour, but a Saviour Who is absolutely God in all of His fulness and perfection.

On the other hand, how black is the guilt of rejecting such a Saviour as this! Whoever refuses to accept Jesus as his Divine Saviour and Lord is guilty of the enormous sin of rejecting a Saviour Who is God.

Many a man thinks he is good because he never stole, or committed murder, or cheated. "Of what great sin am I guilty?" he complacently asks. Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ? "No." Well, then, you are guilty of the awful and damning sin of rejecting a Saviour Who is God.

"But," you answer, "'I do not believe that He is God." That does not change the fact nor lessen your guilt before God. Questioning a fact or denying a fact never changes it, regardless of what Mary Baker Eddy may say to the contrary.

Suppose a man had a wife who was one of the noblest, purest, truest women that ever lived, would her husband's questioning her purity and nobility change the fact? It would not. It would simply make that husband guilty of awful slander; it would simply prove that man to be an outrageous scoundrel.

So, denying the Deity of Jesus Christ does not make His Deity any less a fact, but it does make the denier of His Deity guilty of awful, incredible blasphemous slander against the Lord God of Heaven. It also proves that you who deny His Deity to be ________________. I leave your own conscience to finish the sentence thus begun.

Thus concludes this extremely well written and documented treatment by Dr. Torrey.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

~~ A CHRISTMAS PRAYER ~~

LORD we approach Your holy throne of grace provided through our LORD Jesus Christ: and we desire to express our heart felt gratitude and humble thanks for the Supreme Christmas Gift that You gave to us, in the Person of Your Son, our LORD and Savior: Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel!


We were all lost in this world of sin, desperate and alone, stumbling in the darkness of Man's own making; with no chance of hope or healing from any quarter in all the wide world.

There was no soundness in our flesh, no wholesomeness in our hearts.

Our minds and our spirits were tainted and blotted out any understanding of You: the Holy, Transcendent, Almighty GOD and Creator of the Universe and of all things visible and invisible.


All we like sheep have gone astray and there is none that seeks for You, there is none that understands You, there is none that stands approved by Your Holy Eyes of Fire that sees all, and weighs the hearts of all souls in the balances of Your Truth and Justice, and finds them all wanting and truly poverty stricken.

Yet the Word was given to Your Holy prophets and they foretold of the Blessed Hope that would arrive in the Person of Your Son, the Messiah of Israel!

And in the fullness of time, He was born under the Law, born unto a woman, a virgin daughter of David, Mary of Bethlehem, the betrothed of Joseph, who received "the desire of women", that is, to have conceived within by the power of the Holy Spirit, He who would be Messiah.

From that humble abode of a lowly manger, the KING of Kings was received by a small band of shepherds who beheld the Babe in swaddling clothes; surrounded by hay and animals in their stalls, and His mother and legal father, Joseph, but whose Father was truly the LORD God!

Yet over that stone crib lay the shadow of the Cross and that Holy Babe began His tender, mild life the same way that it ended: in the arms of His loving mother, whose heart was pierced by the sword that was prophesied by Simeon at the Temple in Jerusalem.


Here is the KING of Israel, standing at the banks of Jordan, His clothes wet from that river and behold, there came the Holy Spirit as a dove, and the voice of the Father from heaven, declaring that in Him, He is well pleased!

Here is the KING of Kings declaring the officiation of the Kingdom that He proclaimed and would usher in, in the fullness of times, at the nod of His heavenly Father.

Here is the KING, the Messiah, whose hands are the hands of the Healer! He who healed the blind men and deaf, the lame and the leper; Here is the One Who raised the dead to life!

He who stood in the face of the blind leaders of Israel's religious body and spoke fearlessly of their hypocrisy and of the Father's Truth; He Himself the Son, being the very embodiment of the TRUTH!


The LORD Jesus surrendered Himself on that fateful Day, having presented Himself as the King of Israel, the true Messiah on the day appointed by the prophecy of Daniel: a Day overlooked by those who He came to set free, but for their obstinate hearts remained blind and unhealed.


And our LORD Jesus wept over Jerusalem...


Six heinous trials: unjust and deceitful and satanically inspired, condemned Him that knew no sin! Voices that once hailed Him as the Son of David, then cried out, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!"
Beaten, bloodied, mocked and derided maliciously; He took it meekly and in silence, as a Lamb before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

For if He had, He could have with but a single Word, banished His enemies to oblivion or sought for twelve legions of angels to do the task for Him.

Scourged, pummeled and crowned with the curse of thorns, He stood as Pilate declared to all, "Behold the Man!" And there the Man Who is God, was the Innocent victim before a human judge.
Yet Pilate would one day stand before his Judge, the God-Man at the pure white Throne of Judgment...

Condemned to die the death of the Cross, His hands and feet pierced, His heart melted as wax, His strength dried up, His tongue cleaving to the roof of His parched mouth, thirsting for more than mere water: rather -
for the comfort of His beloved Abba Father, Who even as His beloved Son then bore the sins of the entire world, the entirety of humanity . . . turned His face away and forsook Him. . .


. . . Six long hours He endured the Cross, despising the shame for the joy that was set before Him: the salvation of precious souls who He would redeem from their sinfulness and would have been doomed eternally in the torments of flame!


And willingly, ever willingly, He laid down His Life for us; for no one took that Life from Him, but rather He gave it up of His own accord.

For the sake of His Love for us,
"for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life."


Alone in the tomb, in the utter silence and stillness of death, all of His precious blood having been spilled, His Spirit descended into sheol and declared to the saints of old that long awaited the coming One, of Whom the prophets declared and showed for the coming Kingdom:

And in joy He brought them out from that place of waiting and ushered them into eternal bliss!

And Himself, presenting before the Father, the propitiatory sacrifice of His blood, at the altar there in heaven, awash in its crimson splashing; the proclamation of innocent purity for souls - now saints, past, present and future - who would receive the Messiah.


He is Risen! He is risen indeed!
For no corruption could hold Him!
Death could not touch Him!
The grave could not withstand Him!
Satan and his hordes couldn't detain Him!


He ascended in glorified body, into heaven and the angels declared that, One day He would return in the same fashion!

And so we watch and pray as You commanded, LORD!
For these two thousand years since the doing of this Divine Deed, the Word has been declared, the Gospel preached, souls have been redeemed and born into Your Kingdom!
And as we await Your arrival to inaugurate Your Kingdom as foretold in Your Holy Word, we want to declare with one voice and one heart our thanks, our worship, our love and our desire to follow You in all the ways that You have prepared for us, Your church.


This Christmas we acknowledge the tremendous, insurmountable, eternity-spanning love and grace wrapped up in that tiny Baby that You once were; ordained to bring us salvation and everlasting life!!


We acknowledge that this celebration we participate in, which is done joyously, with our eyes to the skies, looking for and hasting Your Coming, to deliver Your people, called out from among the nations, the church, Your bride.


We pray that when that Day arrives, You will lead Your people Israel through the final days, the Seventieth Week of Daniel, safely onward, redeeming Your remnant who shall cry for Your return; whom You will hear and answer, and arrive to judge the world, and it's leaders who rebel even now against Your Rule and Reign, but will nonetheless be dispatched promptly upon Your Second Advent!

And then O LORD, Your glorious Reign shall commence, and Your final enemies will be vanquished. "The seventh angel sounded and there were great voices in heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdom of our LORD and of His Christ; and He shall reign
FOREVER and EVER!"

"And then on that day, the knowledge of the LORD shall fill the earth, as the waters cover the seas."
GLORY TO YOU LORD!

And EVEN SO, COME QUICKLY LORD JESUS!

KING of Kings, (click on this link)
and LORD of LordsHALLELUJAH!! (and DEFINITELY click on THIS link!)

May the LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GLORIOUS and OMNIPOTENT LORD and SAVIOR make this year, a most special year in which we draw ever closer to His Holy Heart, so passionate and fervent in His Love for us, His beloved, and may we come to know Him in a deeper and grander way, than ever we have known before! May we partake deeply of the "unsearchable riches in Christ Jesus" AMEN! GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE!

agape, grace and peace,
your brother in Christ,

James Fire

Monday, November 28, 2011

OCCUPY The World... Til The RETURN of the KING

Matthew 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

We are hearing more and more about the Occupy Wall Street Movement as these days progress. At first I thought pretty much like everyone else did about this movement: another bunch of disgruntled, unemployed people that are angry and frustrated about the way things are headed in this nation.

Sort of like the Tea Partyers but with a harder edge; most of these seemed to be university age youth with enormous schooling debts and little prospect of getting the higher paying jobs they've been aiming for.

Then somewhere in the middle of all this, I began to notice things and wondered if this was everything that it seemed to be, or perhaps something much more. I started doing a little research, and to my (not very big) surprise, there were some discoveries made.

Here are a couple of articles that I submit for your consideration on the matter:

Occupy Wall Street is a Socialist Scam


Occupy Wall Street Follows (Saul) Alinsky Playbook

These people tout signs declaring that "Capitalism Doesn't Work" and others like, "Obama isn't a brown skinned Socialist that gives away free health care . . . you're thinking of Jesus". To see this and other signs, click on any of the images found here.

We are certainly living in turbulent times and there is so much happening, its hard to keep it all straight, and not feel overwhelmed at the way things are spinning out of control. Alinsky would approve of the condition of this nation, because he knew that such soil is ready to receive the ultimate seeds of revolution and transform a society into a Marxist haven where such Socialists can feel at home.

For us Christian however, there really is no place on this planet that we can call 'home'. Many times, somewhat tongue-in-cheek I refer to going to my 'earthly dwelling abode' - or my house - because I can't really call it home.
Our home is heaven, wherein we have our citizenship.

Spiritually speaking, we've been born from above (that is, heaven - or a heavenly birthing), born again (John 3:3, 5), regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5); as a result of our nativity in the heavenlies, we have no lasting citizenship here. We are pilgrims, strangers, foreigners:

1 Peter 2:11-12
¶ Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation
.

See also Heb. 11: 13.

We are just passing through this 'foreign land' called Earth, on our way to heaven. Until then however we are to have a lifestyle that is "honest among the Gentiles" who may speak of us disparagingly but if they were honest, they would have to admit to the good works we engage in and are called to (Eph. 2:10) and glorify God . . . "in the day of visitation," that is, when the LORD Jesus Christ returns to take us home, just as He and angelic witnesses have testified (John 14: 3; Acts 1:11).

Unfortunately some Christians are so caught up in looking for the LORD's return, that they are not being diligent in their service for the King. It would seem that many of these are only looking to escape from uncomfortable, even desperate circumstances rather than having the hopeful expectation of the arrival of the KING - any who genuinely seek the LORD with expectation will be busy about their work, knowing that His coming draws near, and such has a purifying effect on one's personal walk (1 John 3:3). Those not looking for the LORD's return, or looking only for their own benefit (delivered from having to pay off a mortgage, a lousy job, a life that is bland or difficult, etc.) will say "my Lord delays His coming..." (Matt. 24: 48-49).

Even though we are to be watching and praying always (Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36), looking and expecting our LORD's return (Titus 2:13), we are not to adopt a 'pie in the sky in the great by and by' attitude and be idle; Paul the apostle gently reproved the church at Thessalonica for these things (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:6, 10-12).

No, we are to occupy* in this world, being busy about the business of the King, until He returns:

* Occupy in the Greek means pretty much what one would suppose: to be busy about something, engaged fully in the business at hand. The idea here is the same as Luke 9: 62; diligence, perseverance and endurance are all implied here, also an undivided heart that will not look back (as with longing over something left behind. Consider Lot's wife (Luke 17: 32-33).

Luke 19:11 ¶ And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

vs. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

vs. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

vs. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

vs. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

vs. 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.

vs. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

vs. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.

vs. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

vs. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

vs. 21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.

vs. 22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:

vs. 23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

vs. 24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.

vs. 25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)

vs. 26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.

vs. 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me
.

And from that point, the LORD Jesus Christ, the certain Divine nobleman, ascended up to Jerusalem where He made His grand entrance riding on a donkey, presenting Himself as the Messiah of Israel, but the "citizens" hated him - the religious leaders, and later the people in general with some notable exceptions - and would not have Him rule over them.

The Jews thought that the kingdom of God was near, but they were unaware of the LORD's plan of the ages, that because the nation of Israel would initially reject their Messiah, this would provide an opportunity for the Gentiles to find salvation in the mystery of the church, or the body of Christ, composed of both Jews and Gentiles (but predominantly at this time, the latter). While the kingdom of God was still far off at that point, the King Himself was in their midst!

The LORD Jesus gave them a parable that showed that He would return to His place, that is, heaven (vs. 12; see also Hosea 5:15) once He made His presentation to Israel and propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

As He left this domain and returned to His own, He left instructions and work for those who were genuinely His people (those believing Jews, such as the Apostles, those converted by them, and the early church in the first portion in the book of the Acts of the Apostles and later, the Gentile believers).

In this parable, every servant receives an equal amount - which I believe speaks of the Spirit of God via salvation, and by this same Spirit we are able to live and breathe and work in the kingdom of God (John 3:5).

By the Spirit are we able to affect those around us as we present to them the Gospel, and thereby reproduce fruit after its own kind, that being, salvation. Note that the first two servants are able to increase that which was given to them; the same thing is seen in Matthew 13: 8 in the parable of the Sower of the seed.

For whatever ministry and calling the LORD has placed into our lives (and that is everyone that are born of and citizens to the kingdom of God; every saved soul, every saint has a ministry: what's yours? If you don't yet know, ask the LORD for wisdom to perceive what He has given you, and He will. What sort of gifts do you have? This is a strong indication of where He would have you work in the body of Christ, and out in the world at large) there will come a time when we will be called into account, and receive reward (or not) for faithful service to our King (See 1 Cor. 3: 6 - 15).
Remember, eternal life in heaven is a gift by the grace of God (Rom. 6:23b; Eph. 2:8-9); whatever service we do for our LORD will receive - not gifts, but rewards: the difference being that gifts are free and rewards are earned for good conduct and work.

Yet even for our good works, we cannot boast, for if they are genuinely good (Eph. 2:10), then they are born of God's Spirit and to Him goes the glory and credit; we are just blessed to be included in the work, receive rewards and with which we shall be able to magnify God all the more (Rev. 4:10-11)once we arrive through heaven's portals and into His Presence!

And notice in the parable of Luke 19, that for reproducing that which was granted by the LORD, these first two servants receive an incredible privilege and authority: rulership over (ten or five) cities! How lavish is our LORD in bestowing such incredible reward - for work that was actually accomplished by He Himself: in the hearts of servants that were simply yielded and obedient to the call to service! Amazing!

And then we have the third servant . . . who didn't occupy til the LORD came . . . and this servant could hardly be called that. He was slothful, lazy, accusatory of His LORD; he calls Him "austere" or in a general sense, a very strict person, whose virtues are to the extreme.

Not only did this wicked servant not employ himself in the service of the King, he didn't even so much as deposit it in the bank, where though that wouldn't involve any labor on his part, at least it would draw interest - such is the apathy of this man, who didn't care at all for that which the King offered.
As a result, the ten pounds was taken from this wicked servant and given to the one who was faithful to the highest degree (the first servant). You might ask, "But didn't you say that the ten pounds represent salvation? If that's the case, then this third servant lost his salvation! You don't believe one can lose one's salvation, do you?"

No, I don't believe that a genuinely born again, Spirit indwelt believer can lose their salvation. A very good book on this subject by William MacDonald is called Once In Christ - In Christ Forever. I've read this book and recommend it highly. This very well may be used as subject matter for an upcoming FMF article and book review! This servant that the LORD calls wicked doesn't even keep the ten pounds, does not possess them, but goes and buries them in the dirt!
In my mind, this is hardly a person in possession of salvation! Also that which was intended for the salvation of this third servant, was then turned around and used as further blessing and reward for the first!

Finally, for those who would refuse the LORD in His rightful role as such, these are taken before the LORD in judgment where they are sentenced and executed (vs. 27); for those who reject Jesus Christ as LORD and SAVIOR, they will one day meet Him as their Judge!

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day
.

And for those of us who are diligent in serving our LORD out of a heart of love and devotion and thankfulness (1 Cor. 13:2-3) for all that He has done for us:

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ
.

Remember, we are not called to be 'busy' for it's own sake, but to serve the LORD out of a motive of love and devotion - we are not to be 'Marthas' nor really only 'Marys' (though this is the more important and "good part"), but both in their right proportion - See Luke 10: 40-42; also Col. 1: 3-10; 2 Peter 3: 13-14, 17-18.

Therefore may we indeed occupy Earth, this foreign land, this sphere of missionary service, this domain wherein we make true disciples and herald the Gospel of Jesus Christ the God man before a lost and ruinous world - until the LORD arrives and takes us home! I have a very strong feeling that as for the church, we won't be occupying for much longer! Maranatha!

To purchase the book with study guide by William MacDonald, True Discipleship, click here.

Lastly, I would like you to consider this video: The Disturbing Vision of William Booth

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free! Part Two

I had originally planned on continuing with additional details of my old man life. But why drag you through more that, right? So I thought it best to go this direction...

Things didn't get better they got worse for me, ...at first, solely because of the bad choices I made. 2 Peter 2: 22 sums it up:

But 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.

Frankly, I didn't have the internal strength to resist temptation and continue walking with God and and I went back to my old lifestyle. I did eventually figure a few things out though and today I endeavor to walk with God and learn his Word. And for all practical purposes, isn't that is what we all are trying to do?

The title of the above is based upon the Record of John 8 specifically vss 30-36

30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed
.

Years ago these verses of Scripture became my favorites, they were the first Scriptures I had laid to memory. There was a time that I was so enslaved, I was convinced there was no hope for me.

And there was a time that when I heard these Words for the first time ...

...all of a sudden it became clear: the Bible IS more than this huge relic of a book reserved for brief spats in man made ritual. That the Bible WAS God's Word, God's communication to man ... That Jesus Christ God's only begotten Son WAS (and IS) the Word; God's communication to man in the flesh. That the written Word and the Word in the flesh were given so that I, ...so that all could be free...!? Emotions of unworthiness and thankfulness began to work overtime on my stone cold heart!

The above verses jumped of the page and rattled my being, it was as if a 1,000,000 candle light spotlight just lit up!! THERE really is TRUTH available in this world that is layered and layered with LIES, deceit, corruption, pollution, subtle evil that lulls, woos one into accepting the chains and bondage of sin; an evil that fools you in to thinking you have something to protect and guard and not let go of. A curtain of darkness so thick, so heavy...hope for release it would seem, was an exercise in futility!

Yet The Sword of the Spirit with surgical precision began to slice through the spiritual bars that were like a tourniquet to my heart. And for once in my pathetic existence there was reason to keep going, and my heaviness lifted. I could see a light at the end of a dark tunnel, and it was starting to light my way.

Thanks be to God!!

I took Bible classes, went on a mission, took more classes; tripped on the stumbling stones, fell flat on my face more times than I can count. Thought I knew a thing or two about a thing or two... Later learned I was wrong!

Started back over and we keep on pressing forth. I saw a bumper sticker many times that I think is apropos "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven". That pretty much sums it up.

I met my beautiful wife 35 years ago, who like myself was hungry for truth, together we've went forward and are still going.
It was Sept '75 I was sent to Ft Smith, AR in August with eleven other young people like myself. We were going to start home fellowships, run Bible classes, and basically learn how to practically apply the principles in God's Word.
Our responsibility was to work part time and witness and fellowship full time. The people I was sent with were people from all different backgrounds (we didn't know each other from Adam) and we would set up housekeeping etc. One was basically put into a situation where one HAD to walk upon the principles set for in God's Word or suffer the consequences.

At first I was being challenged in the area of finding a job. I landed a job in a 24 hr mini mart working 10pm - 7am: not good hrs. The first night on the Job the owner shows me his Blackjack, and a loaded .45 pistol; tells me "Don't hesitate to use these, cuz, this place gets robbed a lot!"

I worked there for a few weeks and got robbed. The guy walked out with out paying for probably $30.00 worth of groceries I ran after him; he had a sock full of rocks or something and he swung hard, missed nailing me in the head by a hair . . . I wasn't about to shoot somebody for ripping off a few groceries.
Needless to say I quit the job the next day!

Shortly after I left, a woman was abducted and I don't think they found her, or her captors to this day! So, anyway I need a job and wasn't finding one. My family coordinator said to me, "You want to know the secret to getting a job?"
"Yeah..."
"Want one!" Anyway the next day I started out on foot, on the highway that we lived on, criss-crossing the street and would keep going until I found a job. Two, plus miles and a number of hours later I almost got run over by a crazy women driving an MG crossing the road.
I applied at every possible place I could and frankly I didn't think I would find a job. I was about to talk myself outta this approach, when I see a Pizza Hut across the road and I decide to go to one last place. It's after 2pm, and I am weary, but I check to see if they are hiring. The mnanger comes out and it just so happens that she was the same person that almost hit me in the MG!

She does in fact, hire me! I'm to work lunch rush and Saturdays... she says I'll be helping Tracy on Saturdays (hmmm I wonder what she's like?).
I was to stop by Friday afternoon and pick up my shirt. I met Tracy that Friday PM, and she made my name tag; I was thinking, Wow she's pretty, Should be ok working on Saturdays.
Being a relatively new Christian, I was more enthusiastic, than knowledgable. I personally never cared for high pressure sales or witnessing. Tracy will tell you she had to drag the witness outta of me; I will tell you that it was carefully planned strategy to not scare her off.

Truth is we both know that the hand of God was upon the whole thing. Tracy and I are as different as up and down. There's really no way we'd ever be married except for God. I could make a list a mile long detailing how opposite of each other we are. It took us a while before we learned that you don't fall in love, you fall in a hole.
True Love on the other hand is a decision of the will that manifests itself in giving. Our culture, in my opinion, stresses feelings...feelings come and go...hence the reason for the high rate of divorce! One day the feeling is gone and so people think they've fallen out of love.

Think about it: God so loved that he GAVE...John 3:16. I was taught and I believe that it's true that any two people can stay married IF ... and it's a big IF, they put God first and practice the principles set forth in his Word.

Anyway I was looking forward to working on Saturdays and I would endure the incredible cast of characters all week long so I could work with Tracy. Now Tracy really wasn't looking for a boyfriend, and I was supposed to be focused on witnessing and classes, etc. and that's what I did. But you know in Proverbs 18: 22 it says ...he that findeth a wife findeth a good thing.

And I did!
She was hungry and had loads of questions, and I was more than eager to try to answer them. She ended up witnessing to her entire family, mom, sisters, grandmothers! They all joined the fellowship! I have always been amazed that her family was so meek regarding God's Word; I've concluded it's because they had very little religious background.
We grew the fellowship as best as we could and it was sort of like canoeing through white water rapids: we capsized, fell out, bumped our heads, and kept on moving forward. You know that a quiet stream that has no rocks is safe, but it's the rocks in the stream that make it sing and brings a bit of adventure as you make each bend.

We were married in '76 and I wouldn't trade the time for anything. To me her price is above rubies... (Prov. 31: 10)

It was hard at times; we fluctuated in our walk with God and it took ten years to really grow in commitment to God and his Word, and to each other. A lot can happen in ten years and it did.

I am thankful for Tracy in innumerable way, not the least being that she won't allow me to get old and stodgy in my thinking. God uses the marriage as an example of the one body, the body of Christ.

Now, we have four of the best kids on earth and five of the best grandkids on earth. What else could one ask for? God has blessed us in innumerable ways. Together we are looking at that light at the end of the tunnel. We see through a glass and that we see through it darkly (2 Cor. 13:12). God has released us both from many prisons, and daily helps and blesses us more.

God's Word is inexhaustible, so you always have something to look forward to.

Job 5:8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:

Psalm 145:3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ
;

Tracy and I have reached the point in life where there is NO turning back! You see God's Word isn't clever anecdotes and proverbs placed in a book - IT IS LIFE!

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; [makes alive] the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE.

We have attended fellowships, and ran a home fellowship for many years; we've been to a number of churches, and may go to a number more. We have witnessed to all kinds of people at all kinds of times, in all kinds of circumstances; seen people delivered and seen them walk away... and come back.
Through the whole thing we still wonder about a lot of things.

God bless you if you have read this far; if you are Christian I think you understand, if you're not I would encourage you to believe - -

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
.

So If you have any questions I am sure James, or anyone associated with him will endeavor to answer them. God bless you, thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ. Thanks James for letting me share! Thank you all for reading!

Before I close let me encourage you to think on these things:

Psalm 39:5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.


As He Is that High Standard...we still fall short, yet it's true: He, that is, Christ Jesus is coming back!
Thats our hope and hope motivates. We can't wait...what a day of rejoicing that will be!!

And there you have it saints, and people, all - the testimony of our dear brother Dan, and his lovely lady, Tracy. We pray that reading this has been a blessing (It certainly has been FOR ME!) and that it has drawn every Christian who's read it, closer to the LORD; and for those who don't know the LORD personally yet, we pray that this testimony has made you thirsty to know He Who is the Living Waters, He Who is Himself: LIFE and TRUTH and LOVE made flesh - God the Son, the LORD Jesus Christ: To Him be all the glory and majesty and praise both now and forever and ever! AMEN!

Brother Dan has been gracious enough to allow me to post his email address, on the chance that some of you would like to ask him questions about how he and Tracy came to know the LORD and his life in JESUS now.

Perhaps some time later he might even encourage his saintly bride to write her own testimony, bringing greater detail into her own conversion and that of her family! If the LORD brings about such an endeavor for her, I could place links to both of their testimonies onto that of the other, so you could read one right after the other one!

His email address is: DanKnoll@aol.com

May the LORD bless you abundantly in Jesus Christ His only Begotten Son!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free! Part One

It wasn't very long after I subscribed to Facebook that I came across this gentleman named Dan Knoll.
We began communicating back and forth and discovered in each other avid students and lovers of God's Most precious Word.
I admire this brother, not just for his generous heart, his wit, his biblical knowledge and knowledge in general regarding pertinent subjects biblically related, but for the kind of man that he is: genuine, giving, and abundantly willing and able to exalt the LORD his God, and share the Word and the Gospel of our salvation with any one who is hungry for them.

It is, in part, for this reason that I solicited him to give his testimony on how he came to know the LORD and within about a single day, he delivered it to my email box (that was quick!). And so, with no further delay, here is the testimony of our brother in Christ, and saint of the living God, fellow citizen of heaven, and co-heir in Christ Jesus our LORD, Dan Knoll:

When asked, by James Fire to share my Christian testimony, I gladly jumped at the opportunity. And then it dawned on me, that I may have only verbally shared it in bits and pieces it the past. I am now past middle age and what seemed earthshaking years ago, is relatively mild nowadays.

I remember reading once in a Steinbeck novel, that "every body wants to leave their mark on the world even if it's a scribble." On the other hand I like what the Lord's brother James wrote,

James 4:14

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.


I recall a guy I knew that was really an aggressive witness, who said that he would walk down main street with a toilet on his head if he knew it would cause a person to accept Christ.

So I believe that is the heart behind the sharing of Christian testimony, or how one came to know the Lord Jesus Christ:

I was a regular, relatively average kid growing up in Wisconsin in the '60's and '70's. My parents did the best they knew how to bring me up as a Roman Catholic. At 55 years young I am still learning just how many layers of deception exist in this physical realm we are trapped in. I was drafted into the altar boys and future priest club an so on and so forth. By the 4th grade I was a good Catholic boy or so they thought.

I think it was around that time I started to have some questions about God, and life. I actually believe to this day I was reborn around then since I would listen to the Gospel readings in the mass ritual and I believed in my young heart that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that he suffered died and rose from the dead 3 days and nights later.


I did remember... wondering how they got 3 days and nights from Friday at 3pm to Sunday morning... the priests didn't really know either and just told me to accept it on faith or something like that. That would be one of many questions I never received a satisfactory answer for from the Roman Catholic church.

I must admit I was somewhat intrigued by evil, the devil etc. I was in a constant quandary between trying not to sin and sinning what seemed to be incessantly. I played 'Let's Make a Deal' with God on a weekly if not daily basis. And I think my prayers were never answered.

Adolescence brought with it an ample dose of rebelliousness. I was the oldest of 8 and the kid that broke the ice for my poor folks.

I attended Catholic grade school for 8 years, went to a public Junior High in 9th grade, and it was in my sophomore year that I really started to cast off much of my upbringing. I think it's safe to say that, though Roman Catholics wind up in Mass every Sunday. Their indoctrination basically permeates ones being.


Sorta like the old sayin' "You can take the boy outta the Roman Catholic church but you can't take the Roman Catholic church outta the boy". I have tried to prove that absolutely wrong!
I met a kid - "Lancey" on my way to school one morning and he ended up becoming influential over me at that time. He was a nonconformist in lot of ways; 2 years older than me, so I kinda looked up to him.


Like so many kids I was really getting into the popular music, and he open me up to new exciting music I never heard before. Started hanging out with him a lot. He played guitar; it's what every "hip" teenager at that time wanted to do. And I wanted to learn to play, and my buddy Lancey was more than happy to teach me.


Now alcohol was no big deal in my life, my Dad let me have a little beer every so often. All my relatives were drinkers, and smokers but only a few were considered drunks. Lancey, he would have a beer when we were hanging, and jamming, and of course I would join in. One day he asked me about reefer, I admitted to not smoking dope.


You see I was a bit of a book nerd even though I wanted to be cool, I replied to him with some cliche I had read; he didn't pressure me but told me that pot causes you to see the world from a totally different point of view and that it EXPANDS your mind.

So I started to read all I could about pot and the problem was, it seemed that the books I read all sort of bent in favor of pot and it's benefits. At any rate I became more and more curious, I was highly interested in expanding my horizons. Lancey, he really was a mentor to me and I finally told him I was ready to open my mind.

As you probably can imagine nothing happened except I was kind of paranoid on account of smelling like a reefer. Went home and my kid brother spouts off that I have been smoking cigs. My Dad was a truck driver and wasn't home and Mom she gave me the third degree but both my folks smoked cigs so it ended up as no big deal.

Later that week dad gets home and he gets the report, and more or less tells me not to smoke and if he ever finds out I'm smoking dope he'd kick my a--.
Wonder where he came up with that notion . . . ?

As you might have guessed I continued to pursue the pot scene, never got high like all my friends have been telling me. So I am about to blow the whole thing off as a bunch of hype. In the process of pursuing the dope scene I started changing the kids I would hang with. I abandoned my old RC school friends and started hanging with a new and exciting crowd of freaks, and these cats were cool. We had a really open campus; I mean if you didn't have a class you could leave school for whatever reason and go to the store or where ever.

A lot of kids would go out into their cars and smoke; and a buddy invited me to join him, his sister, and some other kids to smoke some new dope he just got. It was the third or fourth hour. So I go out with them and started smoking pot with them and thats when it hit me like a ton of bricks! I had gotten blasted! I was laughing my guts out non-stop. It was mind blowing; it also was the start of a downward spiral that would end a number of years later.

The counter culture of which I now was a part of seems to me to flow in parallel to straight culture. And I was able to blend into both relatively unnoticed. They say that the frontal cortex doesn't fully develop till one is well in their 20's - in my opinion drug usage further retards the process. Hence the stupid choices continued longer than they should have. Looking back 40 years it's pretty hazy. I ended up a doper extraordinaire and gained the moniker "Danny Stoner" I was cool and liked by the freaks . . . I thought . . . had friends albeit not really. And when I was straight for a few hours, I had a gnawing urge to break this habit, but I'd smoke it any way.

Now I was in what they called 'A track classes' in 10th grade, but my grades were dropping rapidly, and I started choosing easier classes in 11th grade, and I was barely making passing grades. I had a job bagging groceries; needed it to buy dope, but it was a drag, man! While I was working, I would see this guy come in with his wife and baby on many different occasions. I was 16, he was probably 20 or so.

Anyway there was something about him that I liked and wanted to get to know him. I asked around and finally someone told me his name was Gary, and said, "The dude is cool, he plays guitar, love getting high. And the dude loves Dylan" (who was my hero at the time).

So, I try to break the ice and strike up some small talk with him while I'm working and he's shopping for groceries. Found out where he lived, and just showed up one night after work. It was awkward at first, but we hit it off and I thought it was great spending many, many nights getting high, talking about everything under the sun - you know like God and man and law.

Gary became my best friend. Everything else around me was falling apart. School was a hassle . . . all I took was Art classes, the job was a drag, family life: uncool. Gary turned me on to peyote and he explained things like how modern thinkers really proved God was dead and the corporations were really running the show - we were all just pawns in their game!


We were avid readers but the choice of material was heavy counterculture LEFT. After numerous trips I had come to the conclusion the system was all 'BS - total lies everywhere'. Religion was truly the opiate of the people, the 'work day rat race' was bs, everything was bs, except Dylan and getting high.


In my art classes there were a bunch of slacker dopers like myself and some truly strange ones even to me. There was this girl, she sorta gave me the creeps but I was sort of fascinated at the same time. Her art was really good and she would whip it out in seconds, it was kinda creepy and amazing at the same time. She was sorta like the Ally Sheedy character in The Breakfast Club, but darker. I don't know but somehow I was placed at a table next to her.

Anyway one day she just out of the blue tells me "I am a witch!" Mentally I'm thinking, Yeah right! what ever trips your trigger!

Verbally I said something like, "Hmm, I'll be!"


There apparently was a number of girls involved in witchcraft and this was in 1973 and '74. I lived about 30 miles NE of Madison and Madison was inundated with witchcraft and drugs. They called Madison "Berkley East" or Mad Town and it lived up to the name!

Even the mayor was a doper!

This so called witch started crossing my path at different times and it was creeping me out...and I got into the drug scene deeper and deeper. I thought it strange that she would tell me in class, "Don't become a Jesus freak!"

I'm like thinking of all things, Why not a Jesus freak?


But don't worry. I have by this time become a pothead, tripper... not good in any way or form. I had gotten in much trouble at home, been caught with dope numerous times.

My Dad, from the old school, knocked my block off a few times: I really didn't like him. I stole his car once and crashed it; should have been killed, but just had a few bruises.

The wrecker driver asked me, "Is Bob Knoll was your old man?"

I said, "Yeah why?"

He says "I hope he's mellowed out since I knew him for your sake." He hadn't and . . . Well the thought crossed my mind to take off and not look back. The cops took me home and my folks were awakened at 3 am, I was pathetic to say the least. There are a lot of things . . . It's now late '74 I barely graduated High School, got canned from a number of jobs, still a staunch rebel, no real prospects for the future except doping and serving my own selfish interest.

I read all kinds of books about all kinds of ways "but heaven was 10 dollars a bag and god was still spelled "me". My buddy Gary was moving off to join a commune out in the southwestern hills of WI. I was bummed.

Started smoking pot at home in the basement; one morning around 3 a.m. Dad was on his way to work and obviously smelled the dope, handed me 20 dollars told me to "Get the F out" and "never wanted to see my face again."

Looking back can't blame him a bit. We have since grown relatively close.

I had an aunt that offered me some money to go to college and since all my other prospect were nil I took it. Enrolled in the system and chose a college in the southwestern hills of WI. Majored in art, minored in philosophy.


While I as at UW Platteville it was a wasteland. I tried to be a student but the drugs had a big grip on my being. I spent most of my time high, and reading Carlos Casteneda books on the Yaqui Indian Way of Knowledge, endeavored to dance with mescalito. Took my classes high or tripping.


I remember quite clearly one afternoon a girl knocked on my door and invited me to a open bible fellowship or something . . . I spouted off some far out nebulous bs and it didn't seem to discourage her in the least, in fact after constraining and being turned down 3 times at least, she finally left. I remember thinking, That person was different, in a good way.

It was February or March and I get a letter from my friend Gary from the commune in Mt Horeb. And I thought, How did he know my address, how did he know I was in Platteville?

Anyway, the letter was quite infectious, going on and on about how he found the answers we were looking for but were sure couldn't be found. 4 or 5 pages of positive upbeat wording, he closed with "You gotta get up here as soon as possible, it's gonna blow your mind!!!"

Frankly I couldn't think of much else! I think it was a Thursday and Friday I was hitching a ride to Mount Horeb. It was probably 2 pm when I got there. The trucker dropped me off on the main hwy. and I had to walk the mile or so down a country road to find this place. Fortunately I saw Gary walking toward me in the distance with Noah, his son on his shoulders.


We no sooner got over our initial greetings when Roger comes around the corner in a old red IH pick up hollering, "Hop in dude! And light up the CHIEF" as he tosses 'the chief,' a hollowed out pine tree branch home made pipe that held a 1/2 oz of pot. I commenced to light it and passed it to Gary and he put up his hand and shook his head!

...whoa this is not cool, I thought to myself, my best buddy passing on the reef?! What is this all about??

So as Roger gives me the nickel tour of the commune property Gary is uncharacteristically quiet. Anyway he says to Roger, "Drop us up on the ridge, I want to show Dan the scenery and we'll walk back."

It seem as though Roger and I smoked a ton of weed & I wasn't high at all but rather somber. After Roger left Gary sat on a log and point blank asked me, "What do you think about God?"

After an awkward silence I spouted off something like, "Well I am sure there is some sort of creative universalism out there but I haven't met him." As we walked back toward the living quarters he spoke of a life more abundant, and that there is a way of truth, and one can have true peace without drugs, and "There's this fellowship in Madison that I would like you to go with Polly and I and Noah. Would you come?"


Well I guess so. We made it back to the house. I don't remember exactly how many actually lived on the commune as people commonly drifted in and out quite a bit but there was Roger who was a Viet nam vet and Gary and Polly, a few single folks I didn't know at all, And this couple who were committed satanists of which I was oblivious to, until we got back and I went with Gary to his and Polly's room.

The rest of the night they both witnessed to me quite aggressively, and told me how their lives had become a living hell battling daily with the witch and warlock. They would wake up with evil scrawled all over their door, one night Polly said she awoke with a loud noise hitting the bedroom door and after a few moments Gary went to investigate and they found a butcher knife stuck through a picture of Jesus with the Words LIAR written in what looked like red paint or blood. I was stressed yet not afraid; I don't know if I was oblivious or whatever - my head was spinning from all the Word they shared with me.

Morning came early and I really didn't want to be around Ken & Katy after what Gary and Polly told me.

I am really pretty fogged up mentally, and Gary is excited to take me to this Bible fellowship?? And I am sorta not too excited, yet I am thinking there must be something special for Gary to be this excited. So we all pile in the van and head to Madison. The meeting was in a downtown complex of efficiency apts. and we make our way in and I noticed what seemed to be a genuine love as greetings were made.

I would say that there were 8-10 people crammed into the small apartment. All of the folks there were young people early 20's at the oldest. I sat on the carpet with another long hair, I couldn't help noticing everything was clean and simple in the apartment. The fellowship leader's name was Perry.

It was a relatively uneventful meeting, I thought. They opened with prayer, started singing old gospel songs a cappella...kinda square I thought. Then they prayed again, and out of courtesy I had my eyes closed. Then Perry said some one speak in tongues and interpret! And a young lady stood up boldly and spoke in tongues out loud and interpreted. And in a split second my eyeballs went from closed to being as big a saucers I am sure!! I immediately thought, These people are Angels, man! Whoa! I can honestly say that I went from a hung over foggy state of mind, to thoughts racing through my brain.

I vaguely remember an account in the Bible about "tongues like as fire" descending upon the 12 apostles YEARS ago - what?! Does this mean . . . ? I really don't remember what Perry taught on.


And I was a bit out of sorts to say the least, what I did notice as I watched these young Christians was a sort glow, a gentle calmness that is hard to put into words. I understood a little what Gary was talking about. After it was over everyone sat round and visited; Perry he asked me small talk type questions. He told me he was from Rochester, N.Y.; and Billy was from Port Arthur, TX; Bonnie was from Wichita, KS; And Cindy was from Bloomington, IN., and that they were in Madison for a year sharing God's Word and running Bible classes.


Gary says that he and Polly are "gonna take their class", and I'm excited too but gotta go back to school! And as I am kinda cooling off, ready to go, and as I started out Cindy can up to me and gave me a hug and in the most genuine honest way said, "God Bless you! I am so glad you came."

I didn't know it then, but the love of God she manifested at that time is what melted my stone cold heart. There was something different there; it wasn't phoney religious hypocrisy.

I was a basic loser, kinda shaggy, pretty messed up, a dope head, a freak, and yet somehow I knew she meant what she said. We drove back to Mt. Horeb and Gary & Polly spoke a lot of Word to me on the way. Gary shared Romans 10:9-10 with me, and John 10:10. He told me how he met these guys Billy and Perry, how they witnessed to him: he was sick with bronchitis for 2 months and they kept telling him how Christ came so we could have life, more abundantly.


He told me how he decided to go to a fellowship, which just so happened to be a communion service and he shared the bread and the wine and his bronchitis was healed immediately, and that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior that night! He couldn't wait to get back and tell Polly, cause she really didn't want any part of it. But she saw the change in his demeanor; he was healed and she knew there must be Power in the name of Jesus Christ so she accepted Christ that night too!

And then all hell broke loose in their living arrangements. I was getting excited about God, his Word and our Lord Jesus Christ. I really didn't want the moment to end but I had to go back to Platteville. After heartfelt goodbye they dropped me on the highway and I started to hitch back to school. I had a lot of things racing through my mind, I'm gonna clean up my act, quit the dope: heck if Gary can do it I can do it! They told me to look for a fellowship in Platteville. Perry or Billy gave me a Bible, and I told myself I am gonna start reading it.

... Man it's taking a long time to get a ride. A blue Datsun stopped and a red headed dude said he's "going to Dubuque, so hop in". We make the basic small talk and after 20 or so minutes the dude says "there's some pot in the glove, roll us up one" . . . aw man! I really don't want to get high. So I said, "Man I not into getting high right now", and this cat just grins a weird sly grin and says, "Oh sure you are, don't be a leaker; come on roll us up a doobie man."

Well at the time I didn't know it but this was a classic display of John 10:10a The thief cometh not...but to Steal...the Word from you, to kill you if he can, and to destroy you... If we die before accepting Christ we don't have everlasting life and hence we are destroyed. Needless to say I rolled the doobie, smoked it with the dude but I didn't get high and I was again amazed God was calling me - wow I better listen! He dropped me outside Platteville and I had a lot of thinking to do . . .

I knew somewhere in that time frame that I was a child of God, after many years I have found that being a Christian is a way of life.
The things I shared above were just the beginning; Part One of my testimony.

It was a blessing to go back into the recesses of my memory and recall. The truth is . . . every week, month and year adds more to the story. I was to find out that the ride was just starting and what lay ahead was just gonna get wilder. Testimony and witness are the same word (in the Greek) and every day we add to our testimony and our witness.


The events above were 36 or more years ago. And through that time I have rose up . . . and fell down. I sometimes wonder how much have I really learned in that time?

One thing I know for sure is every day, every moment... we have to chose to live for God Who loves us as His dear children. He understands us, He knows our frame, know that we are dust. I love God now more than I did yesterday, I need to love others more too.

This concludes Part One of Dan Knoll's testimony; Part Two is also now posted as of 11/19/11!