Has The World Gone Crazy? Part 5

Has The World Gone Crazy? Part 5

By: Mike Stokes

 

  “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning.” Isaiah writes of this once-great angelic being who became the Devil. “For thou hath said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14: 12-14). Satan has his own idea about what is good, what is evil, how the universe should operate. Satan hates humans and is trying to destroy us. “He was a murderer from the beginning”; He is the father of lies, Jesus explained in (John 8: 44). He loves terrorism, violence and bloodshed.

 

The vicious attack on marriage and family is authored by this miserable fiend. He hates marriage and families because they are so central to God’s master-plan for humankind. This great dragon has flipped the family structure on its head because he hates authority and loves anarchy.

 

God tells children to obey their parents and honor older people, so Satan encourages them to rebel against their parents and mock the aged. Satan pushes the impression that the mind-boggling impressive material creation exists by mere happenstance, that there is no order or purpose for any of it.

That old serpent disagrees with everything God thinks, because his thinking is so twisted up with hate. The longer people refuse to submit themselves to the righteousness of God, who is the true lawgiver, who alone determines right from wrong, the more haywire this crazy world will become.

 

Thankfully, the Bible promises that Jesus will return and set this world right-side up. The Apostle Peter called this “the times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3: 19-21). Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, if the current state of affairs is any indication, something much better is on the way.

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The Problem of Death – Part 3

The Problem of Death: Part 3

By: Mike Stokes

 

In this final article on the subject of death I want to focus on two final questions: Prayer and baptism for the death, and the question about deathbed repentance.

 

(6) What about prayer and baptism for the dead?

            Some offer prayer for the dead in hope of making their destiny brighter. There is no scripture basis in support of this belief. There is a reference to such a belief in one Apocryphal book (2 Maccabees), not accepted as part of the cannon. Baptism for the dead is in the Bible; 1 Corinthians 15: 29. Christians in Paul’s day were under extreme persecution, they often experienced martyrdom just after being saved, without being baptized. It was a concern of Christians in the church at Corinth, some represented those who were killed by being baptized for them. Paul acknowledges this practice, he neither condemned or encouraged it. His point is, unless one believes in the resurrection, what’s the point of such a practice.

 

(7) What about deathbed repentance? (Luke 23: 39-43)

      If Christ meant this to be the only case like this, seems he would have quietly said to the thief, don’t let anyone else know but, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” No, he spoke for all to hear, neither would it have been written in the Bible, but he had this wonderful grace reported in the daily news of the gospel record, because he intended to repeat it. He would never have encouraged hope which he cannot fulfill. This is a remarkable case, the thief had no gospel message preached to him except the gospel he heard from Christ’s enemies, for they said, “He saved others” (v35), the thief must have thought, perhaps he can save me too. Some might say, but, he was not baptized, or took communion, or joined a church. He could do neither; and that which God regards impossible for us he does not demand of us. So, what did the felon do? He confessed the Lord, and that publicly, that is the very essence of baptism. He makes a full confession of guilt, speaking to his partner in crime says, “And we indeed justly; for we received the due reward of our deeds” (v41). He did all he could (wish I could say the same about myself). Note, he only ask to be remembered but he received a surprising answer, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (v43), implying he and the criminal will walk in together. This is a wonderful example of the grace of God, but one should not depend to heavily on this example for their own case. It is true, the Lord will accept all who repent, even if it is at the last hour, but how do you know you will repent? It is true one thief was saved–but the other was lost.

 

The questions and answers in this series of articles are not exhaustive, but I hope they are helpful to those who have questions about, “The Problem of Death.”

 

The Problem of Death – Part 2

The Problem of Death: Part 2

By: Mike Stokes

 

In the first article in this series, we focused on three questions concerning the subject of death: What does God mean by death? What happens with the body, soul and spirit at death? What about cremation? In this article, I want to explore two more questions about the problem of death:

 

(4) What about the death of small children?

That is, those who live for a short time, or, a few years, but who are not able to discern right and wrong. The term, “Age of accountability” is a relative term, referring to an unknown number. It might help to consider Matthew 19: 13-14, where we discern the attitude of the Lord towards little children, and their part in the Kingdom of God (Heaven). He takes them [The babies] in his arms and blesses them, in doing this, it is inconceivable that all he wanted to do was to inform us that grown people must become childlike to enter the Kingdom of God. The implication is that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children as much as anyone else. In 2 Samuel 12: 15, 23, seems to verify Matthew 19. David’s son died, an act of judgement against parents; David viewed the child as being secure with the Lord at death.

 

(5) What about Suicide?

Suicide is the second biggest killer of young people. Believers and nonbelievers have taken their own life. There are several examples in the Bible: 1 Samuel 31: 4, 2 Samuel 17: 23, Matthew 27: 3-5. In two of these examples there was direct demonic activity involved. In a weakened state even believers can become so emotionally distressed that they can murder themselves. A question many ask is; do Christians who commit suicide loose their salvation? Many have had their grief unnecessarily compounded by unbiblical ideas that suicide is an unpardonable sin. Suicide is a sin, the murder of self. Adultery and murder of someone else are equally gross sins. We know King David committed both, but he did not loose his salvation. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, including suicide (1 John 1:7).

 

Next time, we will explore the questions about: Prayer and baptism for the dead, and deathbed repentance. I hope this will be helpful to those who have questions about–The Problem of Death.

The Book

The Book

By: Mike Stokes

 

The word Bible comes from the Greek term, ta biblia, meaning, the books. I was stunned to read some statistics of Gideon International, the statistic is that every day the Gideon International distribute 200,000 copies of the Bible somewhere in the world. That figure just represents only copies that the Gideons hand-distribute. Many other organizations and publishers are churning out Bibles in untold numbers. Publishers love the Bible because it is the best seller of all time year after year.

 

The Bible can change peoples lives. I like the way it was put long ago by an anonymous writer whose little article (Below) about the Bible appeared in an 1891 Christian publications for British railroad workers. The heading of the article was: “The King of Books.” The words of this little piece well express my view of Scripture:

 

“The Bible is the mind of God, and reveals the state of man, the way of salvation, and doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you; food to supply you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrims staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s chart. Here paradise is restored, heaven opens, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgement, and remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and condemn all who trifle with its content.” [sic] (Author unknown)

That is indeed a strong endorsement of the Bible by an unknown writer. No book has ever had an impact on the world like the Bible. It is the most reliable book in the world. It’s the most popular and powerful book on earth, and it’s influence just gets stronger. Many spurn it, attack it, trash it, and even burn it. But it outlives all its critics while, at the same time, transforming the lives of all who will receive its message. “The grass withereth the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40: 8).

The Problem of Worry – Part 2

The Problem of Worry: Part 2

By: Mike Stokes

 

         This is the second article on the problem of worry, a debilitating condition of the mind, which can cause physical and emotional anguish. In the first article I presented three arguments, that Christ made in Matthew 6: 25-34, against worry. There is one more argument against worry that Christ makes in this passage, we should consider:

 

Worry is a characteristic of those who do not know Christ as Lord (v32a).

I do not want to be identified as being in the camp of non believers. When one excludes God’s involvement in their personal life, for all practical purposes worriers are alone, just like those without Christ. So, to paraphrase verse 34, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

 

Solution for worry

Remember the nearness of the Lord. (Philippians 4: 5b)

“The Lord is near.” There are two possible ways to interpret this statement: It could refer to either time or space. Paul may have meant that the Lords’s coming is near in terms of time. Or, he might have meant that the Lord’s presence is near us all the time. Both are true, it seems to me the second is preferable. We don’t need to worry because the Lord is with us, near us, all around us, always.

 

Claim the presence of God in your life (Hebrews 13: 5)

“I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” This statement assures us that he will neither withdraw his presence (“never leave thee”) nor his help (“nor forsake thee”).

 

Let the mind be transformed (Philippians 4: 8)

Since worry and anxiety are conditions of the mind, one of the best remedies is to push those thoughts aside with healthier thoughts, like the ones in this passage. Paul instructs us in Romans 12: 2, “Be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

 

One final thought: As you read the story of the Children of Israel wandering in the desert for 40 years, the sin that so angered God, that he forbade them from entering the Promise Land was the sin of worry–of fear, panic, and unbelief. They distrusted his promises, disregarded his power, and discounted his presence among them. Is not that the very essence of worry? To distrust God’s promises, disregard his presence, and discount his power? I pray God will help you to trust him with–The problem of Worry.

The Problem of Worry – Part 1

The Problem of Worry: Part 1

By: Mike Stokes

 

This problem is as old as humanity itself, so, it is not surprising that Christ is addressing it in the first century. Our minds are often weary, and our spirit weighted down with worry. Our worry from yesterday, add to anxiety of the uncertainty of tomorrow. It is practically useless to say to a chronic worrier, “Don’t worry.” Some try to hide their worry by giving it another name: Concern, anxiety, troubled, disturbed, or bothered; but when all is said and done, it is usually just worry.

 

Worry tends to fall into three categories: 1) Worry about death (ours or love ones); 2) Worry over guilt (even things already confessed); 3) Worry about daily problems, related to: People, finances, possessions, education, vocation, and even avocation.

 

The question is, what does the Bible say about worry? The word ‘worry’ does not appear in the KJV of the Bible, however the concept does; words that convey the thought are: Anxious, care, cumbered, careful, troubled, and concern. In (Matthew 6: 25-34) Christ uses the term, “Take no thought” (anxious), which conveys the concept of worry, used five times in this passage. The conclusions he comes to are as valid today as in the first century.

 

Just by taking a cursory glance at this passage in Matthew 6, we discover that:

 

1) Worry keeps us from enjoying what we have.

“Is not life more than food and clothes” (v25). Worry focuses on things we don’t have, undermining what we already have. Essentially he is saying, ‘don’t worry about things.’

 

2) Worry makes us forget our worth.

“Are you not worth …” (v26). Worry makes us forget God is the heavenly father of people, not birds. The assumption here is ‘If he will feed the birds, surly he will feed and take care of us.’

 

3) Worry is completely useless.

“Which of you by taking thought, “ (Worry), can add to their lifespan, or increase their height (v27). It is accurate to say that worry results in subtraction, not addition, when we worry about things we cant change.

 

Next time, we will explore more details about–The Problem of Worry.

In Hot Pursuit

In Hot Pursuit

(1 Peter 1: 15-18)

By: Mike Stokes

 

            In 1 Peter chapter one the Apostle makes a strong appeal for Christians to pursue a holy lifestyle. In verses 15 through 18 we see four compelling reasons for this pursuit:

 

(1) “God is Holy.” (v15)

His Holiness is manifested in His laws, laws that forbid a sinful lifestyle. His name which signifies all His attributes in conjunction is Holy. His work, His justice, His wisdom, His power, His promises are Holy. Holiness always implies a relationship with God, there is no other place to get Holiness. Anyone who comes to Him in humility and repentance, will receive a Holiness that will be with them on Monday and all through the week, not just a Sunday type of Holiness, it will make a difference in a life. This suggest the practical elements of Holiness.

 

(2) “It is Written” (v16)

            The Bible says so. When the Bible says we come up short, or something is wrong, or sinful, this is God talking. Note: It is written is in the perfect tense, which speaks of a past completed action having present results; (“It has been written and as a present result is on record.”) Peter is quoting Leviticus 11: 44, which was written about 1500BC. So, Peter speaks of Moses words as still on record, the eternal unchanging Word of God. The Lord told us, Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall never pass away.” It is written in the Bible that we should live a Holy lifestyle.

 

(3) We have a Father who judges. (v17)

Note, the combination of words which suggest this. This is not referring to the Great White Throne Judgement. It is rather the everyday activities of life; like an earthly father observing the activities of his children, and he judges them. Just like our earthly father, our heavenly father knows what’s going on in our lives.

 

(4) We have been redeemed. (v18)

Redeemed from an empty life; a wasted, ruined, squandered life. It would be hard to imagine where each of us would be if the Savior had not rescued our lives from untold ruin. What a glorious redemption we have.

 

Considering these four reasons, remember, to maintain a Holy lifestyle. The question is, how do we do this? In chapter two verses 3, 4a, and 5 we are told to keep coming to Christ; the “coming” in these verses are not for salvation, but in a regular, daily coming to Him with our burdens, hurts, and sins. This consistent coming to Him cultivates a relationship which will enable us to share in His Holiness. So, stay–In Hot Pursuit.