Saturday, March 4, 2017

Monday, August 6, 2012

Waiting For The Moving Of The Water

John 5:2 - 9

Waiting For The Moving Of The Water

"Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue 'Bethesda,' having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, 'Wilt thou be made whole?' The impotent man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, 'Rise, take up they bed, and walk.' And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath" (John 5:2 - 9).

It is of a certainty all who read these words are in a similar condition to those who were waiting for the moving of the water. Impotent. Blind. Halt. Withered. Diseased.

It is difficult to imagine a more pathetic or heartbreaking scene: a great multitude of the most helpless of humanity. Can you see them there? Lying in their dirty rags, their bodies riddled with open sores, their scalps raw from scratching and tearing at lice. A great multitude. Crowded together. Packed together. Disabled sardines. A blind man wedged between a legless woman and a twisted, crippled human oddity. All manner of disease and deformity. Elephant men. Mongoloid women. Every repulsive freak of *nature.* Every hapless victim of disease or accident. Waiting for the troubling of the water.

And then the race begins. An athletic competition more fiercely contested than a hundred Super Bowls. . .a thousand Super Bowls. For what does the winner of the Super Bowl get that the loser does not? A ring? A trophy? Junk jewelry. But to win the race to the moving water. . .to be first into the pool. To enter the water a paralyzed, atrophied, slobbering wretch. . .to emerge a healthy man or woman. In complete physical perfection. The winner lives. The winner is reborn. All things now possible. Every dream of what life could have been, now within reach.

The losers die a little death. What a bitter moment! Can we understand it? To be a crawling thing, a man with useless legs who drags himself through the dirt. . .to be hideously deformed, a monster in the eyes of the healthy. Laying at the pool for weeks, months, years, a lifetime. . .waiting for the moving of the water. Knowing the odds are slim, knowing it will probably be someone else who enters the water first. But it is impossible not to hope. Impossible not to imagine a new life. Then to have to pull your wrecked body out of the pool and listen to the ecstatic cries of the winner. To see a man or woman who just an instant ago was a broken heap of flesh and bone, to see a man or woman who just an instant ago was the same as you. . .but now leaps and dances and sings for joy. . .while you remain the same: impotent. Blind. Halt. Withered. Diseased. These are people that believed in a Divine Being, though it is impossible to know if any of them knew the one True God. But they all knew an angel moved the water. They had, at the very least, an inkling of the Divine. So it must be concluded that at least some of the losers, still wretched in their now-dripping wet rags, must have hated God, however briefly, with a fury to match Satan.

The race itself to enter the moving water must have been one of the most amazing spectacles in the history of the world. There was no referee on hand to blow a whistle for *unsportsmanlike conduct.* It must have been great sport to trick the blind with false cries that the water was moving. Hear the tortured, guttural laughs of the deformed as they watch a cursing blind man flail about in the pool.

And then one day, suddenly, the water did, indeed, move. There must have been a moment of absolute stillness as those who could see stared at the moving water. The crippled or deformed or diseased hypnotized by the ripples in the pool. Whatever meager capability of locomotion they had, now totally shut down as they lay there entranced by the moving water. Transfixed. Charmed. By a vision of what life could be. If only. . . And then some of the blind must have wondered at the eerie stillness, the eerie silence. "What is it?" And the spell is broken. An insane scramble begins. A limping, crawling, twisting, writhing mass of flesh wills itself toward the pool. The crippled trip over the legless, the blind crash into snorting oddities, a few of the *lucky* paralyzed, *blessed* to have helpers, are picked up and half-shoved, half-heaved to the pool. The pool is soon transformed into a raging sea stirred by the frantic churnings of broken limbs. How many paralyzed are trapped below the water's surface? Fear, terror, panic, derangement. . .to be ensnared in your own flesh under water, unable to move arms or legs. It had not been an easy life on dry ground. Now this end. . .waiting for the moving of the water.

Many with their human understanding will conclude it was cruel of God to heal only one person, and in such a pitiless fashion. But study the picture carefully before you draw any final conclusion, for this picture reveals much.

The picture of the pool is the picture of the world. It has been this way since Adam and Eve sinned, and it will be this way until Jesus enters the picture, as in the opening account from the fifth chapter of the gospel of John. If you cannot recognize yourself in the great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt and withered, waiting for the moving of the water, you will never be made whole and you will die in your sins and be cast into the Lake of Fire. . .imprisoned for eternity. . .wailing and gnashing your teeth. . .where the worm dieth not. . .and the smoke of your torment ascendeth up for ever and ever (Revelation 14:11, 20:15, Matthew 13:42, Mark 9:44).

You may not be physically crippled, but you are emotionally crippled. You may not be physically blind, but you are spiritually blind. You may not be physically withered, but your soul is withered. Friend, you are lying by a pool waiting for the moving of the water. Your pool may be filled with Jack Daniels or heroin. Your pool may be filled with fornication or sodomy. Lying or stealing. Self-mutilation. Over-eating. Under-eating. You know what your pool is filled with. You go into those waters because your life is crippled. If you get drunk, life seems less painful. If you fornicate, it seems like someone *loves* you. If you steal, you have something you didn't have before in your crummy life, and your life seems one item less crummy. Some stay in these waters till they drown. Others eventually leave these scum-laden pools and try *cleaner* water: twelve step programs, therapy, religious ritual, education or career. You wear a suit and a tie and you get into that career pool every day and you make waves. Some think they are living, this must be life: a house, cars, possessions. They will live and die in passable contentment. Others will always be aware of the hollowness of their existence, but will dare not believe in anything they cannot see. They live in despair, depression.

Let us look at the picture of the pool again. Many with their human understanding will conclude it was cruel of God to heal only one person, and in such a pitiless fashion. But is it not man's way to have only one winner? The survival of the fittest. The law of the jungle. A man makes a billion dollars at the expense of a billion souls. . .and is happy. . .and is celebrated. . .out of envy. Man has never created a social system in which all prosper equally. A few live delicious lives while most struggle to maintain existence. Competitiveness is a rotten fruit of man's fallen nature. Man says "look out for number one." Even Jesus' disciples argued which one of them should be the greatest (Mark 9:34). It is man's way for one to win, and the rest to lose. Man lusts at the Lotto odds, at the remote hope he can win everything. He has no desire to share. Man desires a system where only the first into the pool wins. Many with their human understanding will conclude it was cruel of God to heal only one person, and in such a pitiless fashion--but Almighty God never overrides man's free will.

A person who will not admit he or she is impotent or blind or halt or withered or diseased will never be made whole. If you are not willing to admit you are waiting for the moving of the water, stop reading. You have deceived yourself, or willingly allowed yourself to be deceived. We leave you with these parting words: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

If you are sick and tired, if you live in despair and depression, let look again at the picture of the pool. A man had lived in misery for 38 years. What does this tell us? No condition is permanent. Do not think, I have been depressed all my life, I cannot change. Do not think, I have been a drunk all my life, I cannot change. You must think as the man at the pool thought. This man understood he could not change himself. But he believed the water could change him. You must understand, you cannot change yourself. Yes, you can change your habits. You can change from being addicted to alcohol to being addicted to AA meetings and enduring, by force of will, the cravings for alcohol. You can change your habits, but you cannot change yourself.

And you must understand you cannot find Jesus. How many have said, I am on a spiritual journey, I am seeking the truth, I am seeking God. But, my friend, Jesus is right there:

"And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, 'Wilt thou be made whole?' The impotent man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man. . ."

This man was on a journey, seeking the moving water, seeking that which could save him. Jesus Himself, God in flesh, The Creator, asked the man if he would be made whole. The man answered by calling Jesus "sir." This man did not know Jesus from the next man. This man, on his spiritual quest, was in the very presence of God. . .and did not know it.

Do not think that you can find Jesus. Jesus said "no man cometh to me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him" (John 6:44). You cannot find Jesus. You cannot find God. Do not deceive yourself about your spiritual journey. You are the creature, not the Creator. The creature cannot discover its Creator. As the Lord said to Job, "where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding" (Job 38:4). You say you have not found Jesus on your spiritual quest. Yet in truth, you are not even looking for Jesus. You are looking for a god who will affirm your own beliefs. You look for a god who thinks as you think. "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8). You can continue on in your spiritual quest, seeking a god whose ways are your ways. You are chasing your own tail. You will never be made whole.

Just as Jesus came to the man waiting for the moving of the water, Jesus will come to you. The Heavenly Father will bring you the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it shall be asked of you: "Wilt thou be made whole?" Will you be saved?

Notice how the man at the pool answered. "Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool." This man, just as you, had no idea who Jesus was. This man answers Jesus Christ, God in flesh, as he would answer any other man. He laments his condition, and wishes he had another man to help him. Has the Almighty asked if you would be saved, and you answered Him "if only someone would give me a break?" "If only so-and-so would do such-and-such a thing, my life would be made whole." If your faith rests in another person, you will only be disappointed. He or she is in the same condition as you: impotent. Blind. Halt. Withered. Diseased.

The man waiting for the moving of the water had no idea who he was talking to. You have no idea who Jesus is. You have heard the name. You have thought, He was a good man. . .or , nobody. . .just a fictional character. How will you know Jesus is Lord and Savior? How will you know Jesus is God? Jesus will not come to you in the flesh as He did the man at the pool. But He will come to you by the same power which healed the man at the pool. As John the Baptist said: "I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the Same said to me, 'Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.' And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1:33 - 34). By the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus said to the man "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." This man did not deny the power, but obeyed Jesus. . ."and immediately the man was made whole."

Will you deny the power which testifies to you of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Who is Jesus?

"That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3 - 4). "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). "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" (Romans 10:9).

The Lord Jesus Christ asks you: "Wilt thou be made whole?" Will you be saved?

The same power of the Holy Spirit which enabled the man waiting for the moving of the water to stand and walk, this same power will deal with your spirit.

"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me" (John 15:26). "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost" (I Thessalonians 1:5). "This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (I John 5:6). "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of anti-Christ" (I John 4:3).

It is man's way to have only one winner. Man desires a system where only the first into the pool wins. Not so with Jesus. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). It is God's will that all win, that no one end up in the Lake of Fire. Jesus has provided our salvation Personally, by leaving Heaven and coming in the form of man and living the life we should have lived and paying the price for our sins with His death on the cross at Calvary. Here is the mystery of salvation: why would anyone deny Christ? Of course, the reasons, the excuses, are many. We have free will, and so even though it is the Almighty's will we be saved, He cannot force us to trust in Christ. The Almighty will draw you to Christ, the Holy Spirit will testify to your spirit that Jesus is Christ, and God will even grant you the necessary measure of faith to believe (Romans 12:3). . .but you of your own free will must bow your knee and confess your sinful state and acknowledge Jesus is the only answer.

Are you one of those waiting for the moving of the water? Have you been waiting for a miracle to change your life? Your life. . .the gospel of Luke tells the story of a rich young ruler (Luke 18:18 - 27) who seemed to *have it all,* power, money, the whole nine yards. Surely such a one as this would have no need of Jesus. The lepers, the blind, the sick, the poor, they needed Jesus. But this rich young ruler sought out Christ. Why? Deep down he knew something was not right in his life. He was aware, though outwardly appearing to be the picture of success, he was not fit for Heaven. Something was wrong. So he came to Jesus and asked what he must do to be saved. Jesus said he must give up everything and follow Him. The rich young ruler rejected Christ. He knew something was wrong, but he did not like Jesus' answer. He was not deceived. He knew he was like the poor wretches laying by the pool. He knew he needed healing. But he had more faith in his riches than in Christ.

Your life. . .are you one of those who is laying by the pool? Or are you like the rich young ruler--a *winner?* Deep down, each one of you knows something is not right. Do you wonder where that feeling comes from? That feeling that something is not right? Jesus said: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).

I believe there are some out there who hear Christ's voice. The Holy Spirit is revealing the Truth to you. I pray you respond to the leading of the Spirit, and confess the Lord Jesus Christ. The water is moving. . . 

"Wilt thou be made whole?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Fall

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

The first sin as original sin

As Adam's spiritual life would have consisted in remaining united and bound to his Maker, so estrangement from him was the death of his soul. Nor is it strange that he who perverted the whole order of nature in heaven and earth deteriorated his race by his revolt. "The whole creation groaneth," saith St Paul, "being made subject to vanity, not willingly," (Rom. 8: 20,22.) If the reason is asked, there cannot be a doubt that creation bears part of the punishment deserved by man, for whose use all other creatures were made. Therefore, since through man's fault a curse has extended above and below, over all the regions of the world, there is nothing unreasonable in its extending to all his offspring. After the heavenly image in man was effaced, he not only was himself punished by a withdrawal of the ornaments in which he had been arrayed, viz., wisdom, virtue, justice, truth, and holiness, and by the substitution in their place of those dire pests, blindness, impotence, vanity, impurity, and unrighteousness, but he involved his posterity also, and plunged them in the same wretchedness.

This is the hereditary corruption to which early Christian writers gave the name of Original Sin, meaning by the term the depravation of a nature formerly good and pure. The subject gave rise to much discussion, there being nothing more remote from common apprehension, than that the fault of one should render all guilty, and so become a common sin. This seems to be the reason why the oldest doctors of the church only glance obscurely at the point, or, at least, do not explain it so clearly as it required. This timidity, however, could not prevent the rise of a Pelagius with his profane fiction—that Adam sinned only to his own hurt, but did no hurt to his posterity. Satan, by thus craftily hiding the disease, tried to render it incurable. But when it was clearly proved from Scripture that the sin of the first man passed to all his posterity, recourse was had to the cavil, that it passed by imitation, and not by propagation. The orthodoxy, therefore, and more especially Augustine, laboured to show, that we are not corrupted by acquired wickedness, but bring an innate corruption from the very womb. It was the greatest impudence to deny this. But no man will wonder at the presumption of the Pelagians and Celestians, who has learned from the writings of that holy man how extreme the effrontery of these heretics was. Surely there is no ambiguity in David's confession, "I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me," (Ps. 51: 5.) His object in the passage is not to throw blame on his parents; but the better to commend the goodness of God towards him, he properly reiterates the confession of impurity from his very birth. As it is clear, that there was no peculiarity in David's case, it follows that it is only an instance of the common lot of the whole human race.

All of us, therefore, descending from an impure seed, come into the world tainted with the contagion of sin. Nay, before we behold the light of the sun we are in God's sight defiled and polluted. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one," says the Book of Job, (Job 14: 4.)

6. Original sin does not rest upon imitation

We thus see that the impurity of parents is transmitted to their children, so that all, without exception, are originally depraved. The commencement of this depravity will not be found until we ascend to the first parent of all as the fountain head. We must, therefore, hold it for certain, that, in regard to human nature, Adam was not merely a progenitor, but, as it were, a root, and that, accordingly, by his corruption, the whole human race was deservedly vitiated. This is plain from the contrast which the Apostle draws between Adam and Christ, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord," (Rom. 5: 19-21.) To what quibble will the Pelagians here recur? That the sin of Adam was propagated by imitation! Is the righteousness of Christ then available to us only in so far as it is an example held forth for our imitation? Can any man tolerate such blasphemy? But if, out of all controversy, the righteousness of Christ, and thereby life, is ours by communication, it follows that both of these were lost in Adam that they might be recovered in Christ, whereas sin and death were brought in by Adam, that they might be abolished in Christ. There is no obscurity in the words, "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Accordingly, the relation subsisting between the two is this, As Adam, by his ruin, involved and ruined us, so Christ, by his grace, restored us to salvation.

In this clear light of truth I cannot see any need of a longer or more laborious proof. Thus, too, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, when Paul would confirm believers in the confident hope of the resurrection, he shows that the life is recovered in Christ which was lost in Adam, (1 Cor. 15: 22.) Having already declared that all died in Adam, he now also openly testifies, that all are imbued with the taint of sin. Condemnation, indeed, could not reach those who are altogether free from blame. But his meaning cannot be made clearer than from the other member of the sentence, in which he shows that the hope of life is restored in Christ. Every one knows that the only mode in which this is done is, when by a wondrous communication Christ transfuses into us the power of his own righteousness, as it is elsewhere said, "The Spirit is life because of righteousness," (1 Cor. 15: 22.) Therefore, the only explanation which can be given of the expression, "in Adam all died," is, that he by sinning not only brought disaster and ruin upon himself, but also plunged our nature into like destruction; and that not only in one fault, in a matter not pertaining to us, but by the corruption into which he himself fell, he infected his whole seed.

Paul never could have said that all are "by nature the children of wrath," (Eph. 2: 3,) if they had not been cursed from the womb. And it is obvious that the nature there referred to is not nature such as God created, but as vitiated in Adam; for it would have been most incongruous to make God the author of death. Adam, therefore, when he corrupted himself, transmitted the contagion to all his posterity. For a heavenly Judge, even our Saviour himself, declares that all are by birth vicious and depraved, when he says that "that which is born of the flesh is fleshy" (John 3: 6,) and that therefore the gate of life is closed against all until they have been regenerated.

7. The transmission of sin from one generation to another

To the understanding of this subject, there is no necessity for an anxious discussion, (which in no small degree perplexed the ancient doctors,) as to whether the soul of the child comes by transmission from the soul of the parent. It should be enough for us to know that Adam was made the depository of the endowments which God was pleased to bestow on human nature, and that, therefore, when he lost what he had received, he lost not only for himself but for us all. Why feel any anxiety about the transmission of the soul, when we know that the qualities which Adam lost he received for us not less than for himself, that they were not gifts to a single man, but attributes of the whole human race? There is nothing absurd, therefore, in the view, that when he was divested, his nature was left naked and destitute that he having been defiled by sin, the pollution extends to all his seed. Thus, from a corrupt root corrupt branches proceeding, transmit their corruption to the saplings which spring from them. The children being vitiated in their parent, conveyed the taint to the grandchildren; in other words, corruption commencing in Adam, is, by perpetual descent, conveyed from those preceding to those coming after them. The cause of the contagion is neither in the substance of the flesh nor the soul, but God was pleased to ordain that those gifts which he had bestowed on the first man, that man should lose as well for his descendants as for himself.

The Pelagian cavil, as to the improbability of children deriving corruption from pious parents, whereas, they ought rather to be sanctified by their purity, is easily refuted. Children come not by spiritual regeneration but carnal descent. Accordingly, as Augustine says, "Both the condemned unbeliever and the acquitted believer beget offspring not acquitted but condemned, because the nature which begets is corrupt." Moreover, though godly parents do in some measure contribute to the holiness of their offspring, this is by the blessing of God; a blessing, however, which does not prevent the primary and universal curse of the whole race from previously taking effect. Guilt is from nature, whereas sanctification is from supernatural grace.

(Original sin defined as a depravity of nature, deserves punishment, but which is not from nature as created, 8-11)
8. The nature of original sin

But lest the thing itself of which we speak be unknown or doubtful, it will be proper to define original sin. (Calvin, in Conc. Trident. 1, Dec. Sess. 5.) I have no intention, however, to discuss all the definitions which different writers have adopted, but only to adduce the one which seems to me most accordant with truth. Original sin, then, may be defined a hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature, extending to all the parts of the soul, which first makes us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which in Scripture are termed works of the flesh. This corruption is repeatedly designated by Paul by the term sin, (Gal. 5: 19;) while the works which proceed from it, such as adultery, fornication, theft, hatred, murder, revellings, he terms, in the same way, the fruits of sin, though in various passages of Scripture, and even by Paul himself, they are also termed sins.

The two things, therefore, are to be distinctly observed, viz., that being thus perverted and corrupted in all the parts of our nature, we are, merely on account of such corruption, deservedly condemned by God, to whom nothing is acceptable but righteousness, innocence, and purity. This is not liability for another's fault. For when it is said, that the sin of Adam has made us obnoxious to the justice of God, the meaning is not, that we, who are in ourselves innocent and blameless, are bearing his guilt, but that since by his transgression we are all placed under the curse, he is said to have brought us under obligation. Through him, however, not only has punishment been derived, but pollution instilled, for which punishment is justly due. Hence Augustine, though he often terms it another's sin, (that he may more clearly show how it comes to us by descent,) at the same time asserts that it is each individual's own sin. And the Apostle most distinctly testifies, that "death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," (Rom. 5: 12;) that is, are involved in original sin, and polluted by its stain. Hence, even infants bringing their condemnation with them from their mother's womb, suffer not for another's, but for their own defect. For although they have not yet produced the fruits of their own unrighteousness, they have the seed implanted in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed-bed of sin, and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God. Hence it follows, that it is properly deemed sinful in the sight of God; for there could be no condemnation without guilt.

Next comes the other point, viz., that this perversity in us never ceases, but constantly produces new fruits, in other words, those works of the flesh which we formerly described; just as a lighted furnace sends forth sparks and flames, or a fountain without ceasing pours out water. Hence, those who have defined original sin as the want of the original righteousness which we ought to have had, though they substantially comprehend the whole case, do not significantly enough express its power and energy. For our nature is not only utterly devoid of goodness, but so prolific in all kinds of evil, that it can never be idle. Those who term it concupiscence use a word not very inappropriate, provided it were added, (this, however, many will by no means concede,) that everything which is in man, from the intellect to the will, from the soul even to the flesh, is defiled and pervaded with this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that the whole man is in himself nothing else than concupiscence.

9. Sin overturns the whole man

I have said, therefore, that all the parts of the soul were possessed by sin, ever since Adam revolted from the fountain of righteousness. For not only did the inferior appetites entice him, but abominable impiety seized upon the very citadel of the mind, and pride penetrated to his inmost heart, (Rom. 7: 12; Book 4, chap. 15, sec. 10-12,) so that it is foolish and unmeaning to confine the corruption thence proceeding to what are called sensual motions, or to call it an excitement, which allures, excites, and drags the single part which they call sensuality into sin. Here Peter Lombard has displayed gross ignorance, (Lomb., lib. 2 Dist. 31.) When investigating the seat of corruption, he says it is in the flesh, (as Paul declares,) not properly, indeed, but as being more apparent in the flesh. As if Paul had meant that only a part of the soul, and not the whole nature, was opposed to supernatural grace. Paul himself leaves no room for doubt, when he says, that corruption does not dwell in one part only, but that no part is free from its deadly taint. For, speaking of corrupt nature, he not only condemns the inordinate nature of the appetites, but, in particular, declares that the understanding is subjected to blindness, and the heart to depravity, (Eph. 4: 17, 18.)

The third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is nothing but a description of original sin; The same thing appears more clearly from the mode of renovation. For the spirit, which is contrasted with the old man, and the flesh, denotes not only the grace by which the sensual or inferior part of the soul is corrected, but includes a complete reformation of all its parts, (Eph. 4: 23.) And, accordingly, Paul enjoins not only that gross appetites be suppressed, but that we be renewed in the spirit of our mind, (Eph. 4: 23,) as he elsewhere tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, (Rom. 12: 2.) Hence it follows, that that part in which the dignity and excellence of the soul are most conspicuous, has not only been wounded, but so corrupted, that mere cure is not sufficient. There must be a new nature. How far sin has seized both on the mind and heart, we shall shortly see. Here I only wished briefly to observe, that the whole man, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, is so deluged, as it were, that no part remains exempt from sin, and, therefore, everything which proceeds from him is imputed as sin. Thus Paul says, that all carnal thoughts and affections are enmity against God, and consequently death, (Rom. 8:6-7.)

10. Sin is not our nature, but its derangement

Let us have done, then, with those who dare to inscribe the name of God on their vices, because we say that men are born vicious. The divine workmanship, which they ought to look for in the nature of Adam, when still entire and uncorrupted, they absurdly expect to find in their depravity. The blame of our ruin rests with our own carnality, not with God, its only cause being our degeneracy from our original condition.

And let no one here glamour that God might have provided better for our safety by preventing Adam's fall. This objection, which, from the daring presumption implied in it, is odious to every pious mind, relates to the mystery of predestination, which will afterwards be considered in its own place, (Tertull. de Prescript., Calvin, Lib. de Predest.) Meanwhile let us remember that our ruin is attributable to our own depravity, that we may not insinuate a charge against God himself, the Author of nature. It is true that nature has received a mortal wound, but there is a great difference between a wound inflicted from without, and one inherent in our first condition. It is plain that this wound was inflicted by sin; and, therefore, we have no ground of complaint except against ourselves. This is carefully taught in Scripture. For the Preacher says, "Lo, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions," (Eccl. 7: 29.) Since man, by the kindness of God, was made upright, but by his oven infatuation fell away unto vanity, his destruction is obviously attributable only to himself, (Athanas. in Orat. Cont. Idola.)

11. "Natural" corruption of the "nature" created by God

We says then that man is corrupted by a natural viciousness, but not by one which proceeded from nature. In saying that it proceeded not from nature, we mean that it was rather an adventitious event which befell man, than a substantial property assigned to him from the beginning. We, however call it natural to prevent any one from supposing that each individual contracts it by depraved habit, whereas all receive it by a hereditary law. And we have authority for so calling it. For, on the same grounds the apostle says, that we are "by nature the children of wrath," (Eph. 2: 3.) How could God, who takes pleasure in the meanest of his works be offended with the noblest of them all? The offence is not with the work itself, but the corruption of the work. Wherefore, if it is not improper to say, that, in consequence of the corruption of human nature, man is naturally hateful to God, it is not improper to say, that he is naturally vicious and depraved. Hence, in the view of our corrupt nature, Augustine hesitates not to call those sins natural which necessarily reign in the flesh wherever the grace of God is wanting. This disposes of the absurd notion of the Manichees, who, imagining that man was essentially wicked, went the length of assigning him a different Creator, that they might thus avoid the appearance of attributing the cause and origin of evil to a righteous God.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In Memory of Debbie Goad

I never met her, only exchanged a few impersonal emails with her in trying to track down her ex-husband. But the essays under her name in Answer Me! made a great impression upon. I was sorry to learn of her death.

I wrote this a year or so ago:

George: Truth and illusion. Who knows the difference, eh toots? Eh?

The woman struggles to lift herself from the bathtub. She has to take baths, now. It is too tiring to stand under the shower. And the jets of water feel like liquid darts pricking her skin and aggravating her assaulted-by-chemotherapy, ultra-sensitive nerve endings.

She stands naked in front of a mirror. Aged beyond her years, bald, emaciated, veins shining green through her pale, nearly translucent skin. Ah, that skin--that little bit of flesh that does remain to cover her bones--it is so moribund it can only hang loose and sag. Sag to the earth. The gravity of death literally pulling her flesh down into the grave.

It is impossible that while she stood there examining her naked body she did not observe to herself how closely she resembled a concentration camp victim.

The woman had concluded her essay I Hate Being A Jew (and it certainly must be ranked as one of the two or three greatest essays of the 20th century. . .the brilliant but ghastly humor of self-and-family loathing delivered in the author's peculiar narrative voice. . .an eerily bland voice. . .a creepy monotone of matter-of-fact moroseness) with the following:

"I wish there was a perfume I could sprinkle on myself to mask the Hebraic stench. I even have a name for it: Final Solution. But the oppressive smell won't go away until I'm stone-cold dead, a lifeless Jewess in my own private Auschwitz."

There is a stench to everyone, whether they be Jew or Greek. But the Final Solution won't mask that foul stink.

George: Truth and illusion. Who knows the difference, eh toots? Eh?

Franz Stangl, Treblinka Kommandant, was asked when he first stopped thinking of the victims as human: "I think it started the day I first saw the Totenlager in Treblinka. I remember Wirth standing there, next to the pits full of blue-black corpses. It had nothing to do with humanity--it couldn't have; it was a mass--a mass of rotting flesh. Wirth said, 'what shall we do with this garbage?' I think unconsciously that started me thinking of them as cargo. . .I rarely saw them as individuals. It was always a huge mass. I sometimes stood on the wall and saw them in the tube. But, how can I explain it, they were naked, packed together, running, being driven with whips."

It is a disturbing thought, and yet, what of those not covered by the Blood of Christ? Surely they will be exited from The Judgment in a more dignified manner. . .but their eternal place of residence, the Lake of Fire. . .it is a fearsome thought. . .what is the Totenlager compared to the Lake of Fire? But in this world of lying vanities, man does not see himself as the garbage he truly is. In the end, the one great mystery is the love of God. That the Almighty would put on the flesh of man and condescend to inhabit man's garbage dump and willingly suffer the indignities of the Cross--all the while knowing the vast majority of mankind would laugh as His Spilled Blood. Beyond understanding. . .but thank you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Already the effects of the hot bath begin to wear off. The chill returns. She takes one last look at herself in the mirror. . .trying to determine how much more death she has put on since yesterday. Perhaps the cheeks seem a trifle more hollow? She steps into a pair of slippers and wraps herself in a warm robe. She painstakingly pads to the kitchen, stopping only to nudge the thermostat from 74 to 76.

The woman takes a dirty glass and a bottle of wine from the kitchen and eases her way into the bedroom. She sits at a desk in front of a computer. On the computer desktop there is a text file titled *me.* It is her story. Her autobiography. She double-clicks *me.* She gulps wine as she reads her most recent entries.

George: Truth and illusion. Who knows the difference, eh toots? Eh?

Everybody wants to tell their story. Most people tell it to you everyday--whether you want to hear it or not. Co-workers, relatives, *friends,* they rape your ear with their version of their life. It is an urge they cannot control. God spoke the world into existence. The creature, cut off from the Creator and doomed to death, tries to save himself with his own stories. He tries to speak his version of his life into existence. But it is a lie. An unnatural story. It violates the Law of Creation. So when a *friend* corners you at a *party* and tells you their side of the story, you know their sterile words will just float through space. Float out into the dark and cold universe until the words drift to close to a black hole. . .where they will be sucked into an astronomical prison and compressed, along with all the other sides of all the other stories, into a microscopic dot of untruth.

There is an earthly prison not too many miles from where the woman sits drinking and thinking about her story. Her ex-husband resides in this prison, pencil in hand, and works on his story. As husband and wife they attained a degree of notoriety. Thus, their personal tribulations and failures became matters of public debate--in contrast to the lives of you and I, who comprise that indistinguishable mass of humanity whose own failures are noised no further than the apartment building or neighborhood they occur in. Therefore, you and I ad lib monologues of justification to the handful who have witnessed the anonymous failure that is our life, whereas the husband and wife will craft books, public records, meant to express their side of the spectacle that is Goad. Of course, in escaping the flat plane of drab humanity in which you and I reside, the Goad's story becomes three dimensional. And so there is a third side to the story.

George: Truth and illusion. Who knows the difference, eh toots? Eh?

The Goad marriage was barren. Their union produced no offspring. They were the George and Martha of zines. The Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? George and Martha of zines. Of course, one would not cast Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as Jim and Debbie Goad. Being the George and Martha of zines is of a considerable magnitude less than being the symbolic First Family of the nation, as the George and Martha of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? are. Hence, John Saxon and Kay Lenz would make a suitable Goad cast.

In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? George and Martha compensated for their infertile marriage by birthing an imaginary son. He existed exclusively in words. . .in the conversations between George and Martha. They spoke him into being.

Zinedom's first family had an imaginary daughter. The third side of the story. Unfortunately, Jim and Debbie Goad's imaginary daughter had a little more flesh and blood than George's and Martha's imaginary son.

We read the following in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?:

GEORGE: . . .the real reason our son used to throw up all the time, wife and lover, was nothing more complicated than that he couldn't stand you fiddling
at him all the time, breaking into his bedroom with your kimono flying, fiddling at him all the time, with your liquor breath on him, and your hands all over his. . .

This hint of incest is fully developed in the less artful Goad version, though the gender roles are reversed. No need to recount here the much-talked about details of the Jim Goad/Sky Ryan coupling. Note only that Sky Ryan was young enough to be the Goad's daughter, and once the Jim/Sky relationship drew its last, a peculiar mother-daughter bond formed between Debbie and Sky.

In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Martha violated her's and George's own private Law of Creation by speaking about their imaginary son to another person. As a result, George had to terminate the delusion.

GEORGE: You broke our rule, baby. You mentioned him. . .you mentioned him to someone else.

The delusion of the new life Jim Goad and Sky Ryan were creating together ended in a somewhat similar, albeit more lowbrow, fashion. Ms. Ryan broke their private Law of Creation by writing on the Internet about Mr. Goad's nose job and hair implants.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has a happier ending than the Jim and Debbie Goad Story. After finishing with their imaginary son, George and Martha resolve to stay together until their own natural end. They realize it won't be easy or pleasant, but understand that they must stay together. Because they know they cannot survive on their own.

MARTHA: Just. . .us?

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

It is impossible that there were not moments when the Goads were content. I don't say they were happy. Maybe they were. Probably they weren't. One calls to mind the following passage from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and imagines its brutal *real life* fulfillment in the strange union that was Goad:

. . .whom I will not forgive for having come to rest; for having seen me and having said: yes; this will do; who has made the hideous, the hurting, the insulting mistake of loving me and must be punished for it.

They were one flesh. And now they are torn asunder. Examine the results. This, then, is the tragedy that is Goad.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Would Jesus Be A Human Bomb? (14 Jan 2003): A young Palestinian woman made history of sorts today in the 3-year-old Arab uprising against Israeli occupation. She killed four Israelis in a suicide bomb attack at the main border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Reem Raiyshi, 22, managed to get right inside the border security office with a bomb belt under her clothes. According to the Israeli military, she calmly told soldiers she had a metal splint in her leg that would set off their detector. As she was taken to a special room for a personal search, she blew herself up.

The Lord Jesus Christ, just hours from His crucifixion, revealed to His disciples:

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"--John 15:13.

Is therefore honor among the Human Bombs of Palestine, who lay down their lives for their friends? Would The Lord Jesus Christ be a Human/God Bomb where He to walk the earth today? Of course, the answer to these questions is *no,* for the Human Bombs sacrifice not only themselves, but others as well. . .and their motivation (hate and/or covet) is sinful. A trickier question to answer might be: would it be righteous for a Human Bomb to kill only himself on behalf of his friends as an act of protest? Such an act might be compared to self-immolation, a practice which probably originated with Buddhists. The most well-known self-immolation of recent years is that of the Asian monk Quang Duc who torched himself at a busy Saigon intersection on 11 June 1963 to protest the Vietnam war. Indeed, the act was captured on film and became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. Can a suicide meant to highlight an injustice and persuade the guilty party to repent of its wickedness be justified? The answer has to be no, because as noble as the deed sounds to our carnal ear, such suicide is still a sin. Why? Because the act displays a lack of faith in the Almighty. Whoever would bomb or burn himself must arrive at the conclusion he must take action himself. . .he therefore convicts God of tardiness, indifference or worse. The *greatest* sin is the sin of unbelief.

The person who would bomb or burn himself to bring about repentance in another is, in essence, attempting to perform a miracle, a supernatural act. . .to save the world by sacrificing himself. . .this is God's realm. God did not invest man with the ability to perform the supernatural. For the miraculous to occur, man must follow God's rules, as outlined by The Lord Jesus Christ:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it"--John 14:12-14.

Thus, any person who would seek to initiate a miracle must first petition The Lord Jesus Christ. An infidel can never willfully perform a genuine supernatural act. Therefore, all that resulted from the bonfire (and bonfire, of course, is taken from the old pagan bone fires, in which human and animal bones were set on fire to *appease the gods* for supernatural favor) the hapless little Buddhist Quang Duc made of himself was a spectacular photograph that eventually ended up as the cover art work for a Rage Against The Machine cd (and such a crass commercial use of what was the poor ascetic monk's defining moment in life must surely sadden the damned ghost of the little yellow man).

What if a believer prays for a miracle and it doesn't happen? They must be patient, and not fall into unbelief, as was the case with some of Christ's disciples, who could not perform an exorcism:

"Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you"--Matthew 17:19-20.

How long must the believer be patient and wait on the Lord? Until the end of his life, if need be. The Bible is filled with examples of individuals who had to wait years, decades for God to fulfill His promises of miraculous action. But man is not patient, and if God does not come running when man snaps his fingers, he tries to fix everything himself. The result, of course, is the present ugly world we live in. Truly, then, patience is a virtue:

"Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not Thou He, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon Thee: for Thou hast made all these things"--Jeremiah 14:22

"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD"--Psalm 27:14

"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth"--Psalm 37:8-9.

"Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it"--Psalm 37:34.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings"--Psalm 40:1-2.

"Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and He shall save thee"--Proverbs 20:22.

"The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD"--Lamentations 3:25-26.

Be patient, wait on the Lord. . .and let us not think too highly of ourselves. . .for we must also remember that those who would sacrifice themselves to highlight an injustice and persuade the guilty party to repent of its wickedness are themselves wicked. . .God sees every man as a sinner. . .isn't it the height of arrogance for someone to think their own death could have a cleansing action? For the person who would suicide himself to provoke another to repent must imagine himself a superior being. This is the ultimate delusion of grandeur. . .a mockery, a counterfeit of Christ, whose sacrifice was acceptable to His Heavenly Father because He was without sin:

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?. . .But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation"--Hebrews 9:14, 26 - 28.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

The Palestinian (or any other aggrieved party seeking justice) must come to Almighty God through the Lord Jesus Christ and patiently wait for Christ to deliver unto him all the promises of the Bible. . .even if it means waiting until the end of this life. . .even if it means enduring an occupation of a brutal tyrant. . .after all, the Lord Himself lived all His life under Roman occupation, and He Himself was obedient unto the death of the Roman Cross. . .

The Palestinian (or any other aggrieved party seeking justice) must come to Almighty God through the Lord Jesus Christ and then learn that "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God"--Colossians 3:1 - 3.

As described in Hebrews chapter 11, the great men of faith of the Bible realized not all the promises would be realized within this world system, but it was of little matter, since this is not our homeland, anyway: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an Heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city"--Hebrews 11:13 - 16.

This, then, is the answer for the Palestinian. . .learn what it truly means to be a refugee. . .and then rejoice when the Lord calls you home!

Where Will You Be In One Million Years?

Where Will You Be In One Million Years?
Do we spend a lot of time thinking about that? Or, are we *too busy?* Too busy with *more important* matters? Too busy fretting over our declining standard of living? Too obsessed with our neighbors' husband/wife and/or son/daughter? Too frightened by the *terror* threat? *Global warming?* *Illegal* immigration? Bird flu? Disappearing honeybees? The latest celebrity breakdown? Just too depressed because we only have 3 Facebook*friends?*

What a blessing, if we were to be locked alone in an empty room for three days with a loudspeaker quietly transmitting the following question every fifteen minutes:

Where will you be in one million years?

Nothing else matters.

Everything else is distraction.

No matter our varying frames of reference, one truth holds for all:

We will be dead for infinitely longer than we are alive.

Thus, this world is a triviality.

But it has snared most. The masses are so lost in the trivial pursuit, their own eternal nature eludes them.

The Spirit of this Letter is obvious.

But only those who are to be quickened by the Spirit of God will recognize its truth.

The rest remain dead. The Walking Dead, following the Fashion of the Age. . .the Walking Dead, that mass of humanity which is but a Pyre, burning on the Lusts of the Age. . .

The Dead are most welcome to remain. . .as it is written:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

No offense is taken from the Dead who remain to be amused by the perceived foolishness of the Letter. . .if in their State of Limbo on this Earth, the perceived foolishness of the Letter comforts their deceit, it is not begrudged. . .it is their narcotic which allows brief moments of pleasure.

If we use the abstraction of one million years to peer into Eternity, and see the Dead in the Torments of the Lake of Fire, their artificial pleasures in this World, which in the temporal appear gross and disturbing, can be viewed almost as a merciful Stay of Execution. . .not a Last Supper, but a Last Meal. So all are welcome to stay and enjoy the remainder. . .

The Eternal Question:

Who am I?

Why can't it be answered? Because man is a creature. . .the offspring of the creation of an Infinitely Superior Being. Man can no more tell you who he is than a chair can tell you what it is.

Man does not know where he came from, nor does he know where he is going.

Man's *great achievement,* that which is called *Civilization* (defined as man's attempt to organize himself into the appearance of meaningful purpose), is but the blind stumblings of the ignorant. *Civilization* is x number of thousands of years old. . .it began as a pathetic shack in the plains of Shinar, and all of human history can be seen as just a series of shoddy, tacky add-ons. . .
*Civilization* is the make-work project of humanity. . .the busy work which the Dead occupy themselves until their flesh-and-blood bodies perish.

To what can we liken *Civilization?*

*Civilization* is like unto the baskets weaved by defectives in mental hospitals. . .

Who am I?

We do not understand our own behavior, our own motivations, our own desires.

It is written:

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

We imagine we are the Masters of our own Lives. . .we have ambitions, goals, we aspire to *Self-Actualize*. . .but it is written:

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Who am I?

We are the offspring of the creation of the Infinitely Superior Being.

The History of the Creation:

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve. He set them in an Earthly Paradise (Eden). Immortality in their flesh-and-blood bodies would be granted, if they could follow His few simple rules. Satan, that old serpent, captured Eve's mind, and she did that which her Creator forbid her to do. Adam followed Eve in her disobedience. This was the End of Paradise on Earth. Exile, Misery and Death have reigned through the Ages. . .

The vast majority of human lives have been short and ugly. Miscarriages, stillbirths, abortions, puerperal fever, etc., etc.

And what of those who managed to survive more than a handful of years? Brutal, futile existences scarred by poverty, disease and violence.

It is written of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:

All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World who upholds the universe by the word of His power, once fed the multitudes from five loaves and two fishes. . .He produced enough bread and fish to feed thousands, and after the people had eaten, there was still much food. Jesus said to His disciples:

Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

Our Lord was not a wastrel. Gather up the food, keep it, it will provide many more meals. Do not let it remain on the ground, to rot under the sun and turn to garbage.

But what is the History of the Creation, but a garbage heap of wasted humanity? Jesus ordered the loaves and fishes to be saved. . .but the mass of humanity?

One could accuse God through a thousand questions. This is the pastime of infidels. Through arrogance and pride, they deny the Creator with their accusations. But it is written:

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus?

Where will we be in one million years? The Lord Jesus Christ told a very simple parable with which we can answer this question:

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Where will we be in one million years? Will we be with Jesus and the just in New Jerusalem? Or with the wicked in the Lake of Fire?

How will the angels know the wicked from the just? Is it based on how well we live our lives?

No, for it is written:

There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. . .For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Who are the Just?

The Just are the ones who know the answer to the question:

Who am I?

Let us not answer with our *pet peeves* or our favorite flavor of ice cream or our sexual preference.

When the question *Who am I?* is asked, it does not matter who WE are. We? Who are we?

We are the offspring of sin. We are the end of the long line of corruption, which stretches back to the mortified Adam and Eve, as they stood staring at each other's nakedness in the Garden of Eden. That's who we are. We shall die in our sins unless we can answer the question:

Who am I?

It is written:

Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

The Lord Jesus Christ asks:

Who am I?

The Just are the ones who know the answer.

Who is Jesus?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. . .But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God. . .all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The History of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Jesus is God. Without beginning, without end. All things were created by Him. All things were created for Him. His creation followed the way of Satan. He left eternity and entered His creation. He was rejected by His creation. He tolerated His creation's abuse of Him. He tolerated His creation's crucifixion of Him. He died for His creation, leaving their sins nailed to His cross. He rose from the dead--as the proof of His claims and as His creation's hope.

Who am I?

We are the creation. We were created for Him.

The way of the world:

The spirit of the false religions creates gods for every man. For every man there is a religion that suits his corruption. For every man, there is a god who is created in that man's image. All paths lead to God? No, all paths lead to man.

Only one path leads to God. The path laid out by Jesus Christ, of Whom it is written:

But was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God.

We can only believe in the one true God by Jesus Christ.

The spirit of ecumenicism:

Man tries to topple God from His throne.

The folly of unmerited arrogance:

We offend God with our self-serving religions, and then imagine He will welcome us into eternity with open arms.

Who are the Just?

God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son (the faith God placed in us removes the stumbling blocks from the Trinity), to earth to restore man to his prelapsarian condition. The Just are the ones who understand God the Father will only welcome into eternity those who enter by the Door of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the Just. . .the Justified.

As our Lord Jesus Christ spoke:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. . .I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep. . .Therefore doth my Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.

How can a man know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Christianity is the dominant *religion* in the United States. But when we survey the landscape, we see no evidence of the faith. It is written:

And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

But in America, the vast majority of *Christians* continue to walk according to the course of this world. Christians live just like infidels. . .the only difference is they futilely try to serve two Masters.

A fundamental problem with contemporary American *Christianity* is the cult's answer to the question:

How can a man know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Here is the typical American Christian response (this was taken from an actual American Christian website. . .you can find similar all over the internet, and in countless little paper tracts littering the American landscape):

Who is Jesus Christ? The Bible tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh, God become a human being (see John 1:1,14). God came to earth to teach us, heal us, correct us, forgive us - and die for us! Jesus Christ is God, the Creator, the sovereign Lord. Have you accepted this Jesus?

What is a Savior and why do we need a Savior? The Bible tells us that we have all sinned, we have all committed evil acts (Romans 3:10-18). As a result of our sin, we are worthy of God's anger and judgment. The only just punishment for sins committed against an infinite and eternal God is an infinite punishment (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:11-15). That is why we need a Savior!

Jesus Christ came to earth and died in our place. Jesus' death, as God in the flesh, was an infinite payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the price so that we would not have to. Jesus' resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why Jesus is the one and only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)! Are you trusting in Jesus as your Savior?

Is Jesus your "personal" Savior? Many people view Christianity as attending church, performing rituals, not committing certain sins. That is not Christianity. True Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as your personal Savior means placing your own personal faith and trust in Him. No one is saved by the faith of others. No one is forgiven by doing certain deeds. The only way to be saved is to personally accept Jesus as your Savior, trusting His death as the payment for your sins, and His resurrection as your guarantee of eternal life (John 3:16). Is Jesus personally your Savior?

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, say the following words to God. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I receive your offer of forgiveness and place my trust in You for salvation. I accept Jesus as my personal Savior! Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"

Have you made a decision for Christ because of what you have read here? If so, please click on the "I have accepted Christ today" button below.

It is true Jesus is God. It is true we all are sinners. It is true Jesus was our substitute on the Cross, and His shed blood cleanses from sin. It is true we must have faith to be saved.

What's the problem?

The problem is:

According to the Standard American Evangelism *plan of salvation,* WE ACCEPT JESUSWE determine, through our own reasoning, that Jesus is the Savior, and WE decide we will accept Him.

The Billy Graham-type of crusade, the TV preachers weeping every Sunday morning, the literature of the tracts, etc., present Jesus as an unfulfilled Savior who needs His self-esteem boosted by having lots and lots of *friends* who love Him.

I died for you, now please accept Me, they have Him beg. . .

Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus tells us He came to earth not to beg us to love Him, but:

I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. 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.

Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.

When Jesus stood among the unbelieving Jews in the temple, He didn't beg them to *accept* Him:

If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not. Which of you convinceth Me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

Jesus came to do the will of His Father, not to beg us to accept Him.



And American Christianity presents Him as knocking on hearts, hat in hand, asking for reprobates to *accept* Him?

The arrogance to think we can *accept* Christ and *allow* Him to be our Savior!!!

Jesus Christ is KING OF KINGS!! Do we really think He frets over our opinion of Him? Let us get over ourselves and recognize what He said:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one.

God the Father gave God the Son x number of sheep. . .OUR OPINION DOES NOT MATTER. God's will over-rules.

It is written:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Those who claim they *accepted* Jesus claim responsibility for their faith. In essence, they boast they saved themselves, through their own intellect. They decided Jesus was the Savior, and so they give their faith to Him. They invert the scripture. . .they claim they are saved by their faith which they give to Jesus.

How can a man know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Our Lord and Savior plainly declared:

No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.

We cannot *accept* Jesus. . .

Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.

Who am I?

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.

Flesh and blood cannot reveal Christ.

It is written:

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

Man on his own cannot *accept* Jesus Christ. . .God must reveal it to him by the Spirit.

It may seem a trivial matter of semantics. . .but when we survey the *Christian* landscape of America, and see it differs little from the rest of the world, let us understand the mind of the Christian. In his mind, he has *accepted* Jesus Christ. He evaluated the claims made by and about Christ, and decided with his own intelligence the claims were true.

Or, to put it in the American fashion, he shopped for a god, and decided Christ was the best model. These *Christians* will tell us in all sincerity that Jesus died for their sins. . .that their faith is in Jesus. . .but in reality, their faith is in themselves.

The proof is all around us. When trouble comes, they rush to a doctor or a psychiatrist for a pill. . .they rush to a lawyer for blood money or to escape their responsibilities. . .when confronted, they use their fists. . .when trouble comes to their nation, they call on the military. . .when trouble comes, they solve their own problems, shopping for the best solution. . .they NEVER rely on the Lord. Every solution they embrace contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How is it American Christians can support a criminal war after criminal in the Middle East? How can they claim to follow the Way of Christ, when Jesus said to turn the other cheek, to love your enemies, and then the Christians pray for their Presidents and support them in their ghoulish wars on terror?

The Way, the faith of Christ, cannot be reconciled with the way of the world. . .

The Lord Jesus Christ asked:

And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

The Way, the faith of Christ, cannot be reconciled with the way of the world. . .

It is written:

Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The typical American Christian *accepts* Christ, he decides Christ is savior. . .it's on his terms. . .he's the one who has made the deal. Therefore, it is a little thing if he discards the gospel. Some of Jesus' teachings don't fit his mind set? Disregard them. It's all about his decision.

As it is written:

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. . .

It may seem a small matter of semantics, this issue of *accepting Christ*. . .but if one can choose to accept Christ, can't one also then choose to accept only those parts of Christ's gospel that do not threaten their friendship with the world?

When a *Christian* accepts Jesus, he is not accepting the real Jesus, he is accepting another Jesus, a Jesus who is a creation of his own mind. Not surprisingly, the pseudo-Jesus has no problem with the pseudo-Christian following the course of the world.

The awful truth:

Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:

No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him. . .

The Father must *draw* you to Christ. . .the Greek word which is translated in the King James Bible as "draw" is helkuo, defined as:

to draw, drag off

metaphor: to draw by inward power, lead, impel

Remember what was quoted before:

There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

THERE IS NONE THAT SEEKETH AFTER GOD. All these people who *accept* Jesus, and all the people in the world with their cults, religions, sects, are not seeking after God. . .they are seeking after a ritual after their own heart.

Man is such a depraved, corrupt sinner, so totally cut-off from the true God, God must literally drag him to Christ, by a powerful supernatural force. . .

We do not *accept* Christ. . .God drags us to Him. . .and inside of us, before the creation of the world (According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world), God has already placed the measure of faith (according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith). . .that faith is activated when we hear the gospel (so then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God), and if we are Christ's, if Christ has *accepted* us, we cannot deny it.

The Sum of Human History:

God created Adam and Eve, and they turned to Satanism. . .unseen forces, good and bad, have battled to influence the world down through the ages. . .

Yet even before the foundation of the world, an unknown number of men and women were conceived with the faith of Christ. . .no man can explain the mystery of salvation. . .all we know are the brief lines recorded in the Scriptures (My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me).

We can offer an analogy:

Let us say all men and women are born with a superheterodyne receiver, which they can tune to the world frequency of their choice. . .pornography, *sports,* yoga, whatever. . .but there is that unknown number of men and women who come into this world also equipped with a tuned frequency receiver. . .a receiver that will only receive the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .they may wander through the wilderness for ten, twenty, thirty years, a lifetime, tuning in and out the frequencies of the world. . .and then one moment of one day, they are dragged by God Almighty to the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. . .it may only be two simple words, Jesus Saves, but those words, those gospel words will be received on the gospel frequency receiver, and then faith cometh. . .

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. . .

And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

We can say Jesus spoke in a *frequency* only believers could receive.

To those implanted with the tuned frequency receiver, the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are given. The rest follow the noise of the world, barred from the Kingdom. Just as we do not *accept* Jesus, we do not put OUR faith in Christ. God Almighty puts the faith of Christ in us.

As it is written:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Those who claim they *accept* Christ stink of the sin of pride, for they claim ownership of their salvation. "I accepted Jesus!"

Similarly, those who claim they put their faith in Christ also stink of pride. They gift their faith to Christ!

God Almighty puts the faith of Christ in the saved and then, at some point in their lives, drags the saved to the Lord Jesus Christ and they hear the gospel of Jesus, they receive the gospel of Jesus-and they are born again, a new creature in Christ, adopted by God Almighty through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, these are not semantic trivialities. . .if one believes one accepts Christ, or gives their faith to Christ, at the very least they have a subconscious pride, which will taint their soul with mere religion. . .they become the author and finisher of their faith, and thus they feel free to follow the course of the world, whenever the course of the world suits their fancy. . .their conscience does not burn when they wave their flag in support of their nation's anti-Christ wars, or when they buy Wal-Mart merchandise manufactured by exploited laborers, or when they isolate homosexual sin from sexual sin.

It is written plainly:

Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. . .

We, who deserve nothing, begin the Way with the following attitude:

Christ has given us everything.

After that, then what? What is our responsibility with the faith that has been given us? One can ask countless questions regarding free will, predestination, eternal security, etc., etc. We will not know all of the mysteries of salvation. All we can know is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. . .as for what is in between, perhaps the best that can be offered is the paradoxical advice the apostle Paul gave the Philippians:

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. . .For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

Where will you be in one million years?