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Saturday, March 24, 2018

"It's all in the perspective."



This issue of Martin Zender's Clanging Gong News will help you understand seemingly contradictory statements in the Scriptures. And it will also help you see Who's really running this show we call "life."

Monday, March 5, 2018

"Mommy, why do people die?"

This question from a curious child may come out of the blue from the mind of a small human trying to figure out the world he lives in.

It's a question we've all probably asked at some point in our lives, whether silently or out loud.

But as we grow older and realize that death is simply a fact that we can't change, we accept it, try to ignore it, and seek to make the most of our breathing hours.

But why we die is a vital question.

I'm not talking about the mode of death—disease, impaling, accident, beheading. We may be able to dodge the occasional shark attack or suicide bomb, but we can't evade death forever.

If we squeeze 100 years out of this life it's considered a minor miracle. The Amplified Bible describes us like this, "You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air]" (James 4:14). That's depressing.

What gives Death the right to crash our party when it's just starting to pop? 

Why are we mortal when we're made in the image of an immortal Creator?


Act I: Adam enters stage from below


The first man, Adam, was the first global trendsetter, way before Al Gore's internet even existed. Sin ("missing the mark," or falling short of God's standard of righteousness) entered the world through Adam. And through his sin death entered mankind.

We read in Romans 5:12,
Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned --
Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT)
The moment a human is conceived, their destiny is death. Innumerable millions don't even make it out of the womb. We all suffer from the hereditary "disease" of mortality—"death passed through into all mankind ... ."

We die because we are related to Adam. His one sin affected us all, resulting in death. Our mortality was set in stone by Adam long before any of us were even born.

None of us asked to be born. None of us asked to be mortal. But we are all affected negatively by no choice or action of our own. We are completely passive in this, and we can't stop Death from snuffing us out. 

There are many ends in our lives: the end of childhood, the end of our teenage years, the end of high school, the end of singleness, the end of marriage, etc. Death will end your current life. However, your death will be an end for you but not thē end of you.

The fact that one man brought death to the whole human race with one sinful act is, in one aspect, good news.


Act II: Jesus enters stage from above


You may ask, "How the hell is all of us dying because of Adam in any way good news, you idiot?" Thanks for asking. It's good news because it shows us the power of one act.

There's another act, already accomplished in human history, that is good and benefits all the same people that Adam brought death to.

The apostle Paul shows us the amazing results of this beneficial act contrasted with Adam's detrimental act.

Romans 5:18,
so then as [it was] by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men for justification of life.
Darby Translation
Just as Adam's one offense brought condemnation to all men, Jesus' one act of righteousness (His death) justifies life for all. God includes us all in Adam's sin, and He includes us all in Christ's death and resurrection. Just as we all follow Adam into death, we will all follow Jesus into immortality via resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:21–22,
For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified.
CLNT
Being "vivified" is being made immortal.

Just as we all die because we're related to Adam by birth, all of us will live because we're related to Jesus as our Creator, "for in Him is all created ... all is created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16 - CLNT). We are all created for Him. Do not minimize this amazing fact!

None of us asked Jesus to come to earth as a man. None of us asked Him to die for us. He was resurrected from the dead with no help from us. This is God's work for us.

We will all be affected positively by no choice or action of our own. We are completely passive in this, and we can't stop Jesus from making us immortal (why would we?).

I believe part of God's reason for contrasting Jesus with Adam is so we can understand the scope of Jesus' work. We don't need faith to see the universal results of Adam's sin. But we do need faith to see the future universal results of Jesus' work.

Sadly, Christianity sees the obvious magnitude of Adam's sin but diminishes the impact of Jesus' work. They teach that He saves only a small percent of people condemned in Adam. What a slap in the face to the One the Father put on stage "to be the Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14).

Related image
"Sir, Jared refuses to die. ... Yes, of course, the shark tank!"
But you don't have to believe what Christianity tells you, especially when they contradict the Scriptures.


Act III: Death exits stage left


We are all on the stage in God's grand production, and He's directing it toward His desired end.

Jesus' death and resurrection give Him the right to finish all of God's future goals. His Father has given Him "all authority in heaven and on the earth" (Matthew 28:18). One of these great goals is the complete defeat of Death (which He already overcame in His resurrection).

1 Corinthians 15,
25 For [Jesus] must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death. ... 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. 54 Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this mortal should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written, Swallowed up was Death by Victory. 55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?
CLNT

Related imageSuck it, Death, you will lose.

But the fat lady has not yet sung. Jesus is still working. The score is lopsided right now. Death does have a temporary hold on us.

But Jesus is famous for His comebacks.

In the end Death will have no victory. When Jesus makes all people immortal, they will be beyond the reach of Death, and our enemy will be rendered completely inoperative.

It's like Jesus takes Death by the feet, holds it upside down and shakes it stupid until it releases all of its captives. Jesus does for us what we can't do for ourselves—He conquers Death.

We all belong to our Creator Jesus, not Death. He made us for Himself.

Jesus truly is greater than Adam.

Sincerely,
Wes

P.S. Read Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 to get a fuller view of the contrast between Adam and Jesus.

P.P.S. And if you don't yet know Jesus, read "What are the foundational truths of Jesus we must believe to realize our salvation?"

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The good news of Jesus and how it benefits you


Image result for good news images
The salvation of all is good news. But it's not thē good news of Jesus. Thē good news of Jesus causes the salvation of all. Someone can believe in the salvation of all while at the same time not believing thē good news of Jesus. So what is thē good news?


Jesus' foundational work


Let's face it, the true Jesus is awesome. But there are many knockoff versions of Jesus available on the open market. And these non-Jesuses are gladly received by religious people, "For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:4 - English Standard Version - ESV).

For centuries the Christian religion has been peddling the hottest versions of Jesus that look great on t-shirts and get butts in the pews (with their checkbooks, of course). All of us have probably had a very distorted image of Jesus at some point in our lives, and some of us have paid a lot of money for a knockoff Jesus. None of us see Him perfectly yet. But the clearer you see Him, the more impressed your are with Who the true Jesus really is.

He's done amazing things on our behalf. Things that cost Him comfort, energy, time ... even His life. The real Jesus is a doer, not a hoper. Why would He, the One having all authority in heaven and earth, have to hope for anything when He can simply do it (Matthew 28:18)?

At the heart of God's relationship with mankind are Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. God's dealings with mankind spring from these actions Jesus accomplished nearly 2000 years ago.

The former chief sinner, the apostle Paul, tells us the simple truths that he first believed (and are necessary for anyone to believe) to experience salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 (italics and bold are mine),
Now I am making known to you, brethren, the evangel (good news) which I bring to you, which also you accepted, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are saved, if you are retaining what I said in bringing the evangel to you, outside and except you believe feignedly (not truly; fake belief). 3 For I give over to you among the first what also I accepted, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that He was entombed, and that He has been roused the third day according to the scriptures ...
—Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT)

Due to false religious tradition's distortions of Jesus through the centuries, the three bold statements above should be broken into four parts.
  1. Christ died
  2. Christ died for our sins
  3. Christ was entombed
  4. Christ was roused
1. Christ died: Jesus literally died on the cross. He was not alive in some other form for three days floating around in heaven or hell.

2. Christ died for our sins: "Lo! the Lamb of God Which is taking away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29 - CLNT). Jesus took the world's sin to the grave and rose triumphantly without it. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15 - CLNT). He took care of mankind's sin problem on the cross. He took the totality of the world's sin upon Himself. He dealt with our sin on the cross so that we don't have to deal with it. Mankind has always been powerless against sin, He conquered it for us.

3. Christ was entombed: He was simply laid in a tomb, dead. Believe it.

4. Christ was roused: You've probably heard this so much that it doesn't even phase you anymore. Be phased by it. Jesus rose from the dead! If this would happen at a funeral you were attending, you'd lose your shit (this would constitute "being phased"). He is now alive at the right hand of His Father: Acts 2:32–33, 5:31, 7:55–56. The living, post-resurrection Jesus said to the apostle John, "Do not fear! I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One: and I became dead, and lo! living am I for the eons of the eons. (Amen!) And I have the keys of death and of the unseen ... ." (Revelation 1:17–18 - CLNT).

This is thē good news!

If the events contained in thē good news didn't happen, our future is death with no resurrection.

As I said earlier, it's quite possible to believe in the salvation of all while at the same time not believing these foundational truths about Jesus. Some believe God will save all because man is too good or too worthy to be eternally tormented or annihilated. Some believe all will be saved because God is too kind to deal with sin and He'll just ignore it with a toothy smile. Both are wrong and ignore the Scriptures. Those who don't believe thē good news will not experience the salvation Jesus has already accomplished for them. All will be saved only because of Jesus' work for us described here by the apostle Paul.

Jesus' mission couldn't be any clearer. He said in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Mankind came to seek and to save the lost" (CLNT). And the apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15, "... Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ..." (CLNT).
Related image
"Did I hear you say 'five billion'?"
His death and resurrection really did accomplish these glorious goals. He has already saved all people through His work nearly 2000 years ago.

It's like Jesus has deposited a gift of five billion dollars into everyone's personal bank account. So everyone is currently a billionaire because of Him. But only those who are told they are billionaires, and believe it, can then experience the billionaire life by tapping into their fat account. If you're not told, or don't believe it when you are told, you won't even attempt to access your money. But those who don't hear or believe will someday experience the billionaire life when they believe, whether in this life or the next. Death doesn't remove the five billion dollars from anyone's bank account. It will remain there so that when Jesus does grant a person belief 1, they can then enjoy the billionaire life that He bought for them by His death and resurrection.


Some spectacular benefits of Jesus' work


Jesus' work on the cross has so many great benefits, for Him, His Father, and us. Read the Scriptures to discover all of them. We'll look at some here.


Jesus overcomes the results Adam's sin


There are two historic events that tangibly affect all of humanity—one negatively, one positively. Adam's one sin in the garden condemned all people to death and made all people God's sinful enemies. Jesus' one act on the cross caused God to have peace toward the world and delivered all people from sin and death. Adam's one act brought the whole human race down. Jesus' one act lifted the whole human race up. Adam passed death/mortality on to all. Jesus brings immortality for all. Adam = death; Jesus = life (I like simple math). Romans 5:18–19 from the Darby Translation,
so then as [it was] by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men for justification of life. 19 For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous.
And a little extra flavor on these same verses from The Message,
Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.
Jesus is indeed greater than Adam.

The common traditional Christian teaching that Adam condemns all to death and Jesus saves only a small percent of the "all" is a loud lie shouted by Christianity with megawatt amplifiers. And religious people gladly hear it (2 Corinthians 11:4 - see above). Do not believe this Christ-diminishing lie!


God is at peace with the world


2 Corinthians 5:18–21,
Yet all is of God, Who conciliates* us to Himself through Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the conciliation, 19 how that God was in Christ, conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of the conciliation. 20 For Christ, then, are we ambassadors, as of God entreating through us. We are beseeching for Christ's sake, "Be conciliated to God!" 21 For the One not knowing sin, He makes to be a sin offering for our sakes that we may be becoming God's righteousness in Him. (CLNT)
* God is conciliated to the world, meaning He is now at peace toward the world because of Jesus' death and resurrection. God's peace is toward us before our peace is toward Him. He is the Initiator of the peace. When both parties are at peace with each other, we have reconciliation.
God's peace is toward the world through the completed work of Jesus. And this is true whether you believe it or not. Jesus said in Matthew 5:43–45,
You hear that it was declared, 'You shall be loving your associate' and you shall be hating your enemy. 44 Yet I am saying to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who are persecuting you, 45 so that you may become sons of your Father Who is in the heavens, for He causes His sun to rise on the wicked and the good, and makes it rain on the just and the unjust.
Related imageJust as God causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall, God's peace is toward all men—the wicked and the good, the just and the unjust. And it's completely God's doing. Does He need your help to cause the sun to rise or the rain to fall? All these blessings are from the heart of God for all of us. He truly does love His enemies.

Most of humanity, however, are not yet at peace with Him. For the vast majority, peace is currently flowing only one way—from God toward man. Except for those who've been granted belief(the elect), man's peace is not flowing toward God. This is because most have not yet been granted belief and are still locked in stubbornness. All will someday be released from stubbornness and shown mercy 2.


"Haters gonna hate."


Most of the world hates Jesus and His Father. Jesus says to His followers in John 15 (italics are mine),
18 If the world is hating you, know that it has hated Me first before you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would be fond of its own. Now, seeing that you are not of the world, but I choose you out of the world, therefore the world is hating you. 20 Remember the word which I said to you, "A slave is not greater than his lord." If Me they persecute, you they will be persecuting also. If My word they keep, yours also will they be keeping. 21 But all these things will they be doing to you because of My name, seeing that they are not acquainted with Him Who sends Me. 22 If I came not and speak to them, they had no sin. Yet now they have no pretense concerning their sin. 23 He who is hating Me is hating My Father also. 24 If I do not the works among them which no other one does, they had no sin. Yet now they have seen also, and they have hated Me as well as My Father, 25 but it is that the word written in their law may be fulfilled, that they hate Me gratuitously (for no reason). (CLNT)
Jesus tells us in John 3:19–20 one reason why the world hates Him and His Father,
Image result for man in the dark imageNow this is the judging: that the light has come into the world, and men love the darkness rather than the light, for their acts were wicked. 20 For everyone who is committing bad things is hating the light and is not coming to the light, lest his acts may be exposed. (CLNT)
Mankind loves the darkness and hates the light. He tries to hide from God like Adam did in the garden after he sinned.

In addition to man loving darkness, another reason I believe man hates God and Jesus is because they're being presented damaging, distorted images of Them. The Christian religion teaches that the God of love will either eternally torment or annihilate His enemies when He could very easily save them from sin and death. This makes God out to be a monster to be feared, not a Father to be loved. And it presents Jesus as a failed Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). They teach (often without even being aware they're doing it) that His work on the cross didn't overcome all the results of Adam's sin. The unbelieving world hates these versions of God and His Son. They are disgusted that a God of love would eternally torment or annihilate billions of people that He brought into existence.

False representations of God and Jesus damage Their good names in the eyes of those whom God loves and whom Jesus died for. The Israelites have misrepresented God for thousands of years, and Christianity joined them centuries ago. This ongoing, damaging distortion of God's good name affects the rest of the world negatively, "For because of you the name of God is being blasphemed among the nations" (Romans 2:24 - CLNT). Unbelievers blaspheme God (speak ill of Him, slander Him and take Him lightly) because they don't take seriously the distorted version of God that religion (Jewish or Christian) proclaims to them. They think, "If God is like Christians say He is, we want nothing to do with Him." And they remain in darkness, living like poor men, unaware of their billionaire status.

There's nothing in the true God or the true Jesus that deserves the world's hatred and blasphemy. Just as Jesus says in John 15:25 (see above), "they hate me (for no reason)."

God will eventually remove man's love for the darkness, and the distorted images of Himself and Jesus. His will will be done: "[God our Savior] wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4 - CLNT). Don't skip over the "come into a realization of the truth" part. Then peace will not only flow from God to all men (the current state), but from all men to God—full reconciliation (the future state).

Our call to the unbelieving world is this from 2 Corinthians 5:20, "For Christ, then, are we ambassadors, as of God entreating through us. We are beseeching for Christ's sake, 'Be conciliated to God!'" In other words, "Be at peace with God because He is at peace with you."

God is currently applying the benefits of Jesus' work to those chosen to believe in this age (the elect). He will do it later in the coming ages for the rest of humanity. Those chosen by God to believe in this age aren't the only ones that will believe and enjoy salvation, they are the first ones to believe and enjoy salvation.


♩♪♫ "The future's so bright ... " ♬♭♪


Image result for politicians congratulating each other imagesWe won't see and experience the full results of Jesus' death and resurrection until He returns to the earth to reign in the coming ages (Luke 1:33; Ephesians 2:7). Then we will know for sure that the results are caused by Him, not us.

If we saw the full results of His work right now, while He is out of our sight in heaven, man would take the all the credit for himself. Donald Trump would probably be first in line to pat himself on the back. The rest of the world would be right behind him, ignoring God and His Son, and glorifying man for all of his great accomplishments. Modern medicine would steal the credit for man becoming immortal.

Even though we don't yet see it, the full results of Jesus' work will be fully realized. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 4:17, "... the God Who is vivifying the dead and calling what is not as if it were" (CLNT). And we see in Hebrews 2:8, "'All dost Thou subject underneath his feet.' For in the subjection of all to him, He leaves nothing unsubject to him. Yet now we are not as yet seeing all subject to him" (CLNT).

God knows the full results of what happened on the cross. And the end (yet to be fully realized by His entire creation) is as good as done to Him. He knows it will happen because He and His Son are going to do it. The completion of His plans depends only on Him and His Son. It does not depend one bit on man's input or effort. When man tries to help God in these things, failure is the result.

God knows that the future reign of Jesus will be so successful that it will one day come to an end—He will finish the job: "For [Jesus] must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25 - CLNT). We need to see, by faith, this end reality that God is working toward, and not be deceived by the distorted false reality that spews from the mind of man—especially religious man.


The Big Result


The following shows us the end goal of God's work through the ages. It will be done. 1 Corinthians 15:20–28,
Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing. 21 For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. 23 Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ's in His presence; 24 thereafter the consummation, whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power. 25 For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death. 27 For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. 28 Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all. (CLNT)
God will be All in all. And the all really is all, see verse 27.


"So what do I do now?"


"Believe in Jesus and the finished work that He did for you. And enjoy your five billion dollars!"

Sincerely,
Wes

 

P.S. This post was inspired by some videos by my friend Martin Zender. You can watch them on YouTube. If you're in a hurry, you can watch them at 1.25 or 1.5 speed.


1 "for to you it is graciously granted, for Christ's sake, not only to be believing on Him, but to be suffering for His sake also" (Philippians 1:29 - CLNT).

2 "For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all" (Romans 11:32 - CLNT).


Sunday, February 18, 2018

"What are the foundational truths of Jesus we must believe to realize our salvation?"

Image result for shut up imageI'm going to shut up and let the Scriptures speak for themselves. Maybe I/we should do this more often.

The apostle Paul tells us the truths he first accepted about Jesus, and that we must accept in order to realize the salvation Jesus has already bought for us. He reminds a group of believers what Jesus did for them (and us, and the world) that is at the heart of their faith in Him. 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 (words in italics are mine),
Now I am making known to you, brethren, the evangel (good news) which I bring to you, which also you accepted, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are saved, if you are retaining what I said in bringing the evangel to you, outside and except you believe feignedly (not truly; fake belief). 3 For I give over to you among the first what also I accepted, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that He was entombed, and that He has been roused the third day according to the scriptures
Concordant Literal New Testament
It's perfectly fine (and recommended) to reread these powerful words—maybe several times—to really sink them into your heart.

1. Christ died
2. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures
3. He was entombed
4. He has been roused the third day according to the scriptures

Believe in Him.

Sincerely,
Wes

P.S. I can't stay quiet for long. If you'd like to read a much more in depth treatment of the good news where I don't shut up, read The good news of Jesus and how it benefits you

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Recent Reads:

"God used this small book
to change my life. After
fifteen years in the pulpit,
I finally understand what hell is.
Better late than never." 
-J. Marcus Oglesby, M. Div.


Martin Zender Goes to Hell


My most recent read is by "the World's Most Outspoken Bible Scholar," Martin Zender.

I was not disappointed.

In Martin Zender Goes to Hell, the critically acclaimed writer, bible scholar, humorist, essayist, radio personality, conference speaker, and former Catholic sheds heavenly light on one of the most feared, misunderstood and mistranslated subjects in the Bible—hell.

In this book you'll gain non-traditional insights into:
  • the myth of eternal torment
  • God's reasons for causing mistranslations of His words
  • the salvation of all
  • the lake of fire
  • the Rich Man and Lazarus
  • the sheep-and-goats judgment of Matthew 25
  • the limitations of Jesus' earthly teachings
  • the progressive revelation of Jesus' post-resurrection teachings through the apostle Paul

This short book (95 pages) is sprinkled with helpful and humorous illustrations. Included among these is the soon-to-be-classic original song Sons of Jacob.

Martin teaches those serious about their faith how to dig deeper into God's words to find the truth. I laughed out loud while I learned valuable, faith-building facts about our amazing Savior.

Click on the book to get your copy today.

Friday, January 26, 2018

One thing parents must do when their child is sexually assaulted

Image result for parent and child
Every case of sexual assault is a wake up call to the human race: We are surrounded by deceiving perverts!

The current front page case involving over 150 young girls who were assaulted by a trusted trainer is another heartbreaker. But I'm not surprised by Larry Nassar's actions. What I'm continually surprised by is the reaction of some parents to their child being sexually abused.


Your first job


My son was sexually assaulted by a trusted high school teacher 5 years ago when he was 16 years old. He was one of several victims.

My son suffered silently for 2 years before he told anyone what was done to him. Hearing his story for the first time left me numb ... I think. I'm not sure what I thought or felt. You can't prepare yourself for this kind of gut-wrenching news. I just listened and tried to process it. My world was different after that day. My son's world had been darkened dramatically for 2 painful, silent years. 

My wife and I believed every word our son said.

And this is what surprises and angers me about some child sexual assault cases: parents who don't believe their own precious child. In other words (and I think this is probably the viewpoint of the child): "Mom and Dad believe a sexual pervert and think I'm a liar."

Parents, your first job is to believe your child!


Double whammy


Imagine the trauma of your child being sexually assaulted. Imagine the pain that goes on as they hold the ugly truth inside, afraid to speak the horrible facts. Then one day your child has enough courage to talk. With tears flowing, they tell Mom and Dad what happened to them. The reaction? "We don't believe you."

Your reaction may not be stated in such bold, cold words, but the effect is the same: you crush even more your already-crushed child. And your child's dark world becomes even darker. You've just kicked your own child while she was down. You've just communicated to them, in one way or another, that their story is not real, that their pain is not real, that they are not a victim, but a liar.


Why?


I've often wondered why parents wouldn't believe their own child in this horrible situation. Maybe the child has been dishonest before. Maybe the one who abused your child is a family friend. Maybe the perv is well respected by many in the community (which was true in my son's case). Maybe you're worried about how this horrible news will make you look—you've got a rep to protect. Maybe you just don't want the hassle of dealing with the situation, especially all the legal issues.

You must realize that this is not about you.

Could your child lie to you about an event like this? Yes. But there is no good reason to doubt your child when they tell you their story. Allow the truth to unfold.

Stand with your child. If you don't, who will? You, the parent, are your child's protector. Your child needs you now more than ever to hold him up.


Pervs abound


In sexual assault cases, I often hear the question, "Who knew?" Who knew Larry Nassar was molesting girls for so long? Who knew Jerry Sandusky was abusing young boys at Penn State all those years? People know. But they keep quiet. Some are afraid. My suspicion: those who hush up are also deviants who don't want their shitty deeds brought into the light. They protect their own kind.

Since my son's experience, I've become convinced that we're surrounded by sexual perverts. They're sneaky, adept at flying under the radar. They have nice smiles, nice homes, and good senses of humor. They might sit next to you in church.


They won't stop, they must be stopped


Most sexual assault victims never speak up. There are numerous reasons for this. I assume many keep quiet because the evil deeds were committed secretly, and the victim worries, "No one will believe me." The small number who do speak out must be believed, especially by parents. This is one of the first steps in getting these creeps off the streets.

If a victim speaks up and is not believed, they may shut down and crawl back into their dark existence, never to surface again. And the perv continues devouring more victims. Pervs do not stop, they must be stopped.

The man who assaulted my son is now in prison for his crimes. My son, along with several other victims, stood up and told their stories. And other potential victims are safe from this deceiver while he sits in jail.


To victims


To all victims of sexual assault, I know it's not easy, but tell your story. Some may doubt you—forget them. Keep telling your story until someone believes and the perv is dealt with. Go to the cops alone if it comes to that. Stand up and be strong. You can do it.

Crisis Intervention Services was a tremendous help to my son and our family. Their number is 1-800-270-1620.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

While I'm gone ...


Martin Zender
Zender
I've been gone for awhile, and will remain so for a bit more.

But I want you to learn when you come here, so I'm linking you to some great teaching by my friend Martin Zender on Romans 3:21-24. I've learned a lot from Martin, hopefully you will too.

Roman 3:21-23

More on Romans 3:21-23

Romans 3:21-24

Zender Newsletter archives  Martin's website

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Erasing Hell" author changing his tune?

Image result for erasing hell images I'm currently working on a 4-part critique of Erasing Hell, written by popular Christian authors/speakers Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. This book attempts to refute universal salvation through Jesus. Both authors teach that God will punish for all eternity those who don't believe in Jesus in this life.

Since co-authoring the very popular Erasing Hell in 2011, Preston Sprinkle has been speaking frequently and positively about annihilationism. This is the teaching that those who don't receive Jesus in this life will be resurrected, judged, then completely annihilated by God—they will no longer exist. You can hear his podcasts from 2016 here. The podcasts are played in reverse order and are numbers 186-169. Sprinkle has made it abundantly clear that he is not an annihilationist.

In addition to this, in 2017 on the podcast Pastor With No Answers (episode 84), host Joey Svendsen challenges his guests at the 21:20 mark, "Put a number to the chances that universalism is true." Sprinkle squirmingly gives his answer at the 26:30 mark. He says he is a "hopeful universalist." His number: "33.3333%" that universalism is true. He has more positive things to say in the podcast about the subject of universal salvation. Listen for yourself.

I'm also currently preparing for a discussion/debate with annihilationist Chris Date on the Pastor With No Answers podcast in mid September. Chris Date is a host on the Rethinking Hell podcast.

Monday, August 28, 2017

"Christian Universalism isn't Heresy?"

Image result for pastor with no answers imagesListen to my interview with Joey Svendsen of the Pastor With No Answers podcast.

This popular podcast is lay-it-all-on-the-table real. And Joey's a great guy, too.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

White lies matter


When presented with the truth that Jesus will save all humanity, some people wrongly assume that this means it doesn't matter how we live. They say, "Sin it up if we're all going to be saved in the end!" (Did I mention that they assume, and they are wrong?)

Related imageOne important area of life that affects us all is honesty, or its flip side, lying. I'm going to assume that we've all lied, and that we've all been lied to. Raise your hand if you like being lied to. I see. Either everyone has smelly pits today, or it's universal—people don't like being lied to. But for some reason we can easily justify lying to others.


Why do we lie?


We stretch the truth (sometimes to the point of breaking it) for many reasons. But the underlying motives are usually selfishness and/or fear, or we're running for political office. We predict that the truth won't benefit us as much as a lie, so we're dishonest.

Sometimes we fear punishment because we've done something wrong, so we lie to escape the consequences of our actions. But if our wrongdoing is discovered, the fact that we lied to cover it only adds to our punishment.

I remember when my kids were young and would do something wrong, whether intentionally or by accident. Sometimes they would lie to cover up their dastardly deed. But if I discovered their deed, it would often pale in comparison to the fact that they lied to try to cover it. Their dishonesty was much more serious to me than the fact that they ate my whole container of Oreos.

When you sit at the poker table, you expect to be lied to. Poker players quietly lie out of necessity—the bluff. It's part of the game.

Spies lie for patriotism, and because they prefer to remain alive.

Lies kept Anne Frank and her family safe from the German police for two years during World War II. Was this wrong? No. The motive was to save lives. And when the Franks were discovered by the Germans, they were sent to concentration camps, where some of them died.

The motive for deception is key as to whether the lie is justified or not.


A Biblical catch-22


Sometimes lying is justified if it's the lesser of two evils. Yes, the lesser of two evils is a thing that even Jesus talked about. Jesus said to the Jews in John 7:22–24,
22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. (NIV)

The Jews were constantly accusing Jesus of working on the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them that they circumcise on the sabbath to keep the circumcision law which said a newborn male was to be circumcised on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3). This catch-22 was solved by choosing the law of circumcision over the law of doing no work on the sabbath. One law was broken so that a greater law could be upheld.

Can we apply this principle to lying? I think so. There are definitely times when lying is the lesser of two evils. The problem arises from misapplying this principle and overusing it for selfish reasons.

You'll have to determine what to do in the situations that arise in your life. It would be impossible to list all the scenarios that could come up and what you should do in each. When faced with a situation where you could lie, checking your motive is always a good place to start.

God will eventually judge whether you made the right decisions or not. But you should be the first line of judgment for your own actions—"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1 Corinthians 11:31 AKJV).


Biblical examples of "legal" lying


Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho, lied to keep two Israelite spies safe (see Joshua 2). She and her family were spared when Jericho fell (Joshua 6:16–25). Rahab is also mentioned with some of the heavyweights of faith for her work, which included lies (Hebrews 11:30–31; James 2:25).

In a very interesting Bible story, God sent a lying spirit to deceive Israel's evil king Ahab (2 Chronicles 18). This deception used by God led to Ahab's judgment and death. 

His Israelite slaves were multiplying too fast, so Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill all male Hebrew babies immediately after they were born by throwing them into the Nile. One of these babies, Moses, was saved and hidden, and a clever deception put him back with his mother until he was weaned (Exodus 1:15–2:10). Plot twist: then Moses grew up as a son to Pharaoh's very own daughter.


Diplomatic immunity


In Deuteronomy 13:1–5, God sends false prophets and enables them to do signs and wonders to test Israel's love for Him.
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 2:8–12 tells us God will send a great deception in the end times,
then will be unveiled the lawless one (whom the Lord Jesus will despatch with the spirit of His mouth and will discard by the advent of His presence), 9 whose presence is in accord with the operation of Satan, with all power and signs and false miracles 10 and with every seduction of injustice among those who are perishing, because they do not receive the love of the truth for their salvation. 11 And therefore God will be sending them an operation of deception, for them to believe the falsehood, 12 that all may be judged who do not believe the truth, but delight in injustice. (CLNT)

Throughout Scripture God uses Satan (see previous passage), who is described by Jesus in John 8:44,
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Do these methods used by God give us a license to do the same? No. There are things God does that we can't do—send His Son to die to save all, sit on the judgment seat of the universe, flood the earth, destroy the earth by fire, kill 185,000 Assyrians in one night, and on and on.

God is the potter, and we are the clay (Romans 9:14–21). God is King, therefore He has full diplomatic immunity to do whatever is necessary to run His universe.


Liar, liar, pants on fire ...


In Proverbs 6:16–19 we see some things that God hates,
Image result for lying with fingers crossed behind back imageThere are six things the Lord hates. There are seven things he cannot stand: 17 a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, 18 a mind that thinks up evil plans, feet that are quick to do evil, 19 a witness who tells lies and a man who causes trouble among brothers.
International Children's Bible (ICB)

Two of the seven things listed have to do with lying. I think this should make it clear to us how God feels about lying, regardless of the color of the lie. God says in Revelation 21:8,
But those who are cowards, who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who are sexually immoral, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (ICB)

It's not looking good for liars. Repent.


Why do the right thing?


Jesus died for all of our sins. So who cares how we live? God does. And so should you.

"Why would I obey God if He's going to save me anyway?" The answer? Love.

When a person begins to truly understand God's love for them, he will love Him. "We are loving God, for He first loves us" (1 John 4:19 CLNT). God is the initiator of love. We are the beneficiaries and responders to His great love for us. Obedience based out of fear and obligation is still obedience, but it's not God's goal. His goal is a harmonious relationship with His children based on love.

And that's no lie.

Sincerely,
Wes

Friday, June 23, 2017

Look at what you CAN'T see

Image result for trouble in your face image
We see and feel them all around us—troubles, afflictions, tribulations, pressures—and they're usually right in our face. That's why they get the bulk of our attention.

But it's what we can't see that deserves our attention. These are the things God tells us to focus on. Why? Because they're so bloody good!

The following is a mash-up of 2 Corinthians 4:17–18 using a few Bible versions,

For the momentary lightness of our afflictions, troubles, tribulations and pressures is producing for us a transcendently transcendent eonian weight of glory, 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eonian.

Some things to note:
  • Though the afflictions of life can feel like boulders on your shoulders, when compared to the future weight of glory, they are in reality momentary and light. But we must look on the heavy duty unseen to see the relative smallness of our afflictions.
  • All this stuff we're suffering through produces something for us, "a transcendently transcendent eonian weight of glory" (v.17). In the Greek transcendently transcendent is hyperbolen eis hyperbolen. Hyperbolen means: a throwing beyond, excess, superiority. And it's used twice here. We're looking at a weight of glory that is beyond the beyond. Even though we can't grasp the full greatness of this, we can know that it is indeed great, great enough for us to focus on the future weight of glory and not the current crap in our face.
  • Eonion means lasting for the age(s). It's contrasted with the momentariness of our afflictions and pressures.

And suffering produces other good things in us, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance" (Romans 5:3 - NIV). And James 1:2–4 in the NIV,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Perseverance, maturity, completeness—God installs these qualities in us on the assembly line of suffering.


Everybody hurts


Jesus blazed the trail for us in the suffering department. And He suffered to the point of death. Hebrews 2:10 says, "Everything was made for God and by God. It seemed good to him that Jesus' life should be made complete, by going through the hard things that happened to him" (Worldwide English New Testament). 

Whether we like it or not, suffering completes us.  We can usually see the truth of this after the suffering is over. But while we're in the center of it we're usually blind to God's intended result. This is where we need to see the unseen with the eyes of faith.

And if it makes you feel any better, realize that ALL people suffer—rich, poor, short, tall, attractive, ugly, skinny, not skinny, Kardashian, non-Kardashian. Everybody you see today (and everyday) has something in their life that hurts.

I'm often lifted in my spirit when I see someone suffering far worse than me. I don't get joy in their suffering. But when I see someone persevering through great suffering, it gives me hope and proof that it can be done. I'm inspired by their ability to smile and live life with joy despite great affliction. And humanity is full of stories of people who've suffered greatly and come out of it better people than before the suffering began.

Suffering completed Jesus. But I'm sure He kept smiling. Not a fake smile. A joyful smile that came from focusing on the end result of His afflictions.

Even God suffers as He patiently endures the waywardness of His creation. But He knows the end that He will eventually create for all.


Delayed gratification


These are dirty words in our everything-is-at-our-fingertips world. But we don't get to choose the lifespan of our suffering. Suffering to some degree will be with us from cradle to grave. And the afflictions we now face will make the "eonian weight of glory" that much more special through the principle of contrast. Our joy then will be enhanced when contrasted with the suffering we've gone through to obtain the end result.

But we don't always have to wait 'til the next life to enjoy the end of suffering. A mother can joyfully hold her fresh new baby after months of carrying the child and going through the excruciating pain of childbirth. A graduating student can get their diploma or degree after years of going through the hardships of school. And there are millions of other victories to be gained in this life, but most of them come after some kind of suffering.

We are told in the Bible to look to Jesus (Who, by the way, we can't literally see). He's our example. He lived 2 Corinthians 4:17–18. Hebrews 12:2 tells us,

We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.
                                                                               Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Jesus knew His mission that brought Him to earth wasn't going to be easy. He knew He would be hated by the world that He created. He knew He was going to die for His enemies as they mocked and scoffed at Him. BUT ... He could also see the joy waiting for Him when His momentary troubles were over.

Was it worth it? Yes! He's no longer on the cross, He's "sitting at the right side of God’s throne!"


You haven't seen or heard ...


1 Corinthians 2:7–16 from the Concordant Literal New Testament (I know this is a long quote, but drink it in, it's powerful),

Related imagebut we are speaking God's wisdom in a secret, wisdom which has been concealed, which God designates before -- before the eons, for our glory, 8 which not one of the chief men of this eon knows, for if they know, they would not crucify the Lord of glory. 9 But, according as it is written, That which the eye did not perceive, and the ear did not hear, and to which the heart of man did not ascend -- whatever God makes ready for those who are loving Him. 10 Yet to us God reveals them through His spirit, for the spirit is searching all, even the depths of God. 11 For is any of humanity acquainted with that which is human except the spirit of humanity which is in it? Thus also, that which is of God no one knows, except the spirit of God. 12 Now we obtained, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we may be perceiving that which is being graciously given to us by God, 13 which we are speaking also, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit, matching spiritual blessings with spiritual words. 14 Now the soulish man is not receiving those things which are of the spirit of God, for they are stupidity to him, and he is not able to know them, seeing that they are spiritually examined. 15 Now he who is spiritual is, indeed, examining all, yet he is being examined by no one. 16 For who knew the mind of the Lord? Who will be deducing from Him? Yet we have the mind of Christ.

That's the key to this whole thing, "have the mind of Christ!" When we know God and His Son, we have the mind of Christ in us. We can see things from God's perspective, not just our limited human point of view. Suffering is all around us, but with the mind of Christ—God's Spirit in you—you can see beyond the in-your-face afflictions in life to the joy that is waiting for you.

If you don't know Jesus, call on His name now. Get the mind of Christ today.


Sincerely,
Wes