Archive for the ‘Spiritual Warfare’ Category

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A Parallel

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Copyright 2002. All scripture is Authorized King James Version, 1769 edition. This article may be copied and used without permission of the author, provided it is copied and used in its entirety

The sound is a harsh, sharp, irritating, loud, staccato buzz, repeated three times. To those of us in Strategic Air Command, it was a reminder of the unpleasant reality of the real reason why we were here. It was an unwelcome intrusion in our daily lives.

Just off the end of the runway, was a pad large enough to hold four KC-135 tankers with its own special taxiway leading to the end of the runway. On that pad, an utter, but strangely organized pandemonium broke loose with Crew Chiefs and Flight Crew members running to their particular planes, removing covers and beginning startup procedures. Perhaps today is not merely a drill, but a horrifying reality has occurred and time is of the essence. Meanwhile, the Control Tower and the Aircraft Readiness Center have cleared the runway of all normal flight operations so that nothing impedes the launching of the Alert aircraft. In short, everything is now focused on the fact that the Cold War may now no longer be something to be pushed out of mind and temporarily forgotten.

During the years of 1948 through 1991, most of the Western world, but particularly America experienced a war that, after the early years, became something to be forgotten, or ignored. In the 1950’s and early 60’s, it was not uncommon for attack response drills to be carried out in schools and government offices around the country. However, as time wore on, the response to a very real threat began to drop off. As the expected attack never came, people became far less concerned with the fact that The Soviet Union had several thousand warheads and bombs designated for targets in the United States. In fact, by 1985 the perception of actual threat in American society had diminished to the point of being the concern of only few “warmongers” and virulent anti-communists. The vast majority of America was too absorbed in being entertained and making money for retirement, or the next vacation. By 1991, when Communism supposedly collapsed in on itself, American society was poised for the decade of self-absorption in which “If it feels good, do it.” was the motto.

However, over the years of the Cold War what was not well understood by the society at large, was that the enemy was not the USSR per se, rather, the enemy was the philosophy and socio/political system of Communism (or Marxism, whichever you prefer). Indeed, the aggression of missiles and bombs was only the outward manifestation of a deeper, and more serious war that was occurring on many levels and fronts. Most of which were either unseen, or undetected except by a few perceptive individuals. When those individuals sought to raise the alarm, they were derided as virtual lunatics and paranoids.

What was not, and still is not well understood about this war, is that those who are the aggressors hold a completely different mindset about war and how war is to be fought. To them, the war is not confined to the battlefield where the bullets and bombs are expended. No — to them the war encompasses every aspect of life. This war is to be fought in the hospitals, schools, libraries, factories, social gatherings, churches, etc. etc. and consists primarily of the conversion of persons from one way of thinking to another. Every turning of thought, every person convinced to change their way of thinking, even on the smallest of issues, was and is considered a victory. To achieve this victory, every means of communication is used by the adversary, whether it is the supposed “documentary,” a Hollywood movie, a song (it doesn’t matter what particular genre — the Communists have their agents in every aspect of the music industry), the various books (even religious books), or the political and social issues arena, they left no area untouched in their drive to alter the thinking of American society. Thus, bit by bit, person by person, the Communists seek to change the thinking of a significant minority, up to the majority of persons to their way of thinking. When this is achieved, then they will have accomplished a victory without ever firing a shot.

Failing that, they have a backup plan — tear down the existing society if it will not accept the tenets of Marxism. This is done by actively working to increase disorder and immorality in the society so that it collapses in on itself. Thus, the society is set up for them to propose their “solution” to the problem of the chaos that they helped create. Fascinating isn’t it, that when the end justifies the means, anything can be done — so long as the goal is accomplished.

There is a parallel here — between the war the Marxists launched against America, and American society’s long term response to it, and the church the Lord Jesus Christ brought into existence on this earth, particularly in the late 20th Century. You see, we all “know” that spiritual war exists and that there is a spiritual war that is occurring, but we, like the American society that we come out of, don’t like to be particularly troubled with the details of it, or involvement in it (as if we could really avoid it). And, like American society, we frequently wish it would just “go away” so we could continue on with our lives.

However, like the Communists (whose father is the Devil), Satan has other plans for the Lord’s church. And, like the Communists, the Devil uses every bit of deceit and trickery he can find to get his message across, and influence the Lord’s people to do things contrary to what the Lord would have them to do. But, unlike the Marxists, Satan is far more successful. How do we know? History records it, specifically Bible history.

If we go back and read about the various churches spoken of in the New Testament (which weren’t supposed to fail) we can ask ourselves a very simple question: Where are those churches today? In fact, where were those churches in 250 AD? Since the last book of the New Testament was written in 90 AD, it is reasonable to ask if the churches described in the New Testament survived as proper churches for the next 160 years.

Moreover, we ought to ask ourselves a very similar question: Will we survive as a proper church? Now I know that some raise the question: Doesn’t the Lord tell us that the “gates of Hell will not prevail against it” meaning that the church cannot be defeated?

The answer is both a “yes” and a “no” to the question. If we consider the church as a kind, or a species (if you will), then it is very true that Satan will not destroy the Lord’s church. Additionally, if we consider the implications of the entire statement, we find that gates are a defensive measure used by cities against attackers. Thus, as long as a particular church is on the offensive, and guided by the Holy Ghost in that offensive, then that church will stand. There is no possibility of that church being defeated. However, we find recorded throughout the last 19 centuries, voluminous evidence of churches that decided not to follow the leadership of the Lord and adhere to His commandments. In short, they also became like American society in the late 20th century — unwilling to commit themselves to the reality of the war that is on-going.

Therefore, what guarantees do we have as a proper New Testament church that we will survive in both doctrine and practice? Do we also understand that it is not enough to have a good doctrine but we must also give that doctrine feet and legs. The doctrine must be put into practice. This is one of the very valuable lessons taught in the military — readiness doesn’t mean much if you cannot respond quickly in the event of an actual attack. This is the exact reason for the no-notice Alert drills that SAC loved so much. Why? Because it proved that what we stated daily was actually true. As fundamental, independent, Baptists can we actually prove that what our doctrine states is really true by our actions? Or, are they just so many words on paper, nice to look at, but not to be actually practiced?

When we talk of spiritual war, do we really understand that there is a real war occurring? Or, is this something that happens somewhere else? Do we understand that the focus of the war is the Lord’s people and their ability to carry an effective Gospel testimony? Do we also understand that the Devil is a liar and the father of lies, and thus has no problem setting about to deceive us and distract us from the task the Lord has given us? Do we also understand that nothing is off-limits as far as what the Devil will use against us?

And finally, is it clear to us that everyone — lost or saved, is involved on one side of this war or the other? And that those on the other side desperately need deliverance from the destruction of sin and iniquity and the bonds of the Devil? Moreover, just like the war that Communism continues to prosecute against the United States, this war will not end until one side is completely defeated.

Finis

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The Effects of Television

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Copyright 2002. All scripture is Authorized King James Version, 1769 edition. This article may be copied and used without permission of the author, provided it is copied and used in its entirety.

Of all the things that can be said about television, one of the most outstanding things that is apparent is that television is really not necessary. Nice to have, but not necessary. For the child of God this is a very important distinction that needs to be always kept in mind.

Television is much like a drug that one might take for “recreation,” except that it is a mental and spiritual drug that gives no external evidence of its usage. Nevertheless, there are certain cases where the person is easily swayed to “act out” the things seen and heard. Television affects every person’s heart and mind regardless of the outward show. How can I say this? Consider the following evidence from a study on the effects of denying a family television, even for a limited time. The subjects of the study were asked to do without the television for a time. They had not, of their own volition decided to put away the television, rather they were asked to do without for a time.

Nearly 40 years ago Gary A. Steiner of the University of Chicago collected fascinating individual accounts of families whose set had broken–this back in the days when households generally had only one set: “The family walked around like a chicken without a head.” “It was terrible. We did nothing–my husband and I talked.” “Screamed constantly. Children bothered me, and my nerves were on edge. Tried to interest them in games, but impossible. TV is part of them.”

In experiments, families have volunteered or been paid to stop viewing, typically for a week or a month. Many could not complete the period of abstinence. Some fought, verbally and physically. Anecdotal reports from some families that have tried the annual “TV turn-off” week in the U.S. tell a similar story.1

Now, for the born-again believer this ought to be a red flag concerning the potential for destruction of one’s witness, especially if we remember what happened to Lot and his family when they heard and saw the wickedness that was continually around them.2 This is not to say that all television is like Sodom and Gomorrah, but even a swift glance at it today reveals much ungodliness and a vast amount of “information” that is direct opposition to what the word of God states is true. Thus we are given a choice to make: Are we, if we continue watching, going to continually say “no” to the ideas and concepts that come from the television, or, are we at some point going to quietly concede that particular battleground and not even protest, just so we can keep watching?

Again, I do know this is a bold thing to state. However, it is not said out of ignorance of the power of television. Researchers do know that every one responds to stimuli in a certain way. It is our automatic response to stimuli that causes many to concede this particular battleground.

In 1986 Byron Reeves of Stanford University, Esther Thorson of the University of Missouri and their colleagues began to study whether the simple formal features of television–cuts, edits, zooms, pans, sudden noises–activate the orienting response, thereby keeping attention on the screen.

The orienting response may partly explain common viewer remarks such as: “If a television is on, I just can’t keep my eyes off it,” “I don’t want to watch as much as I do, but I can’t help it,” and “I feel hypnotized when I watch television.”3

Now the researchers do not understand that God put that response mechanism there. However, just because they misidentify the source of the response does not negate the fact that the response is there. What it does mean is that we must learn to rule over our flesh and its desires and not concede this battleground. If we fail in this area, what will ultimately occur (and sooner than we think) is the insidious slide into worldliness and the forsaking of the witness and testimony that we, as members of the Lord’s church, are in covenant with the Lord about.

There are additional effects of television that are documented. These effects also contribute to difficulty in maintaining our witness and testimony. One of them is significant in its contribution to the ultimate downfall of this society as well.

Jerome L. and Dorothy Singer of Yale University, among others, have suggested that more viewing may contribute to a shorter attention span, diminished self-restraint and less patience with the normal delays of daily life. More than 25 years ago psychologist Tannis M. MacBeth Williams of the University of British Columbia studied a mountain community that had no television until cable finally arrived. Over time, both adults and children in the town became less creative in problem solving, less able to persevere at tasks, and less tolerant of unstructured time.4

Of course, we have seen and heard in the news many times in recent years where people have lost patience with one another over the most trivial of things and the result was either grievous bodily harm, or murder. If we say, ‘So what, big deal. That has always happened,’ we ignore a time in United States history when television was not present, and a national economic crisis occurred. The result was not the kind of lawlessness that we see today. During the Great Depression so many people had little to nothing, including food. Yet, the vast majority of individuals willingly worked for what they could get, and were very patient concerning the conditions that they had to endure. Crime, especially assault and murder was rare at that time. I know, as I have spoken with many older people that lived through that time in America’s history, and none of them experienced what we, as a nation, are going through today.

Now, we know the nature of man has not changed. So what has? How about the stimulus to man’s nature? Is it possible that man can be encouraged to do evil by the things continually placed in front of him; especially if they are shown to be acceptable, even approved actions to take? God has much to say about looking upon evil and the effects of it, even on the believer. Think about it.

Finis

  1. Television Addiction, Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Scientific American, February 2002, http://tv-addiction.blogspot.com/2007/01/television-addiction-is-no-mere.html
  2. The Holy Bible, King James Version, Genesis 19:all, II Peter 2:7-8
  3. Television Addiction, Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Scientific American, February 2002, http://tv-addiction.blogspot.com/2007/01/television-addiction-is-no-mere.html
  4. Ibid
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Complacency Kills

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Copyright 2002. All scripture is Authorized King James Version, 1769 edition. This article may be copied and used without permission of the author, provided it is copied and used in its entirety

In the whole issue of Spiritual warfare it is proper to remember something that we so often forget, and that snared several persons in both the Old and New Testaments. The illustration that follows is not quite that old. In fact, it happened while I was on active duty, and was related to me by a subordinate who was directly involved, though not by choice.

One of the strange things about my Air Force career was that I ended up with three specialties, and reached a high level of proficiency in all three. It really was not by choice that I ended up changing careers three times, except for the transition from logistics to avionics. What this meant was that I became intimately familiar with the Air Force training program and its processes. Without actually looking at certain paperwork, I know that certain things must be accomplished prior to allowing an individual to perform certain tasks. That knowledge bears heavily on understanding the event which occurred at Williams AFB.

While stationed at Castle AFB I had the privilege of training several individuals on KC-135 autopilot and navigation systems. As the Combat Crew training base in Strategic Air Command, we had an extremely heavy flying schedule. Thus we consumed people. One of those individuals we received at Castle was a young man that transitioned from Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) to Guidance and Control Systems. He was serious individual that was easy to train and conscientious about his duties. He also had a story to tell; one that was not so pleasant, and is a lesson for us all.

This Senior Airman (SRA) was stationed at Williams AFB as an AGE technician. Part of his duties involved delivering requested equipment to the aircraft that needed it, for the performance of certain tasks. As he put it, there was nothing unusual about the particular day that he delivered a piece of equipment to a T-38 Talon trainer on the ramp. From the enclosed cab of the AGE tractor he could see the crew chief of the aircraft. He also noted that the aircraft was jacked up with one wheel removed for replacement. There was a wheel and tire technician present at the aircraft along with a high pressure Nitrogen cart used for various tasks on the flight line.

The high pressure Nitrogen cart figures prominently in this whole affair, thus it bears brief consideration. It consists of several high pressure Nitrogen bottles (3000 PSI) laid in a rack, four across and two or three high. This cart also has two regulators. One is for low pressure that will allow only 300 PSI. The other regulator is the high pressure side that allows the full 3000 PSI to be available.

Also, aircraft tires are not quite like vehicle tires. First, they are designed for high speed contact with the ground. They are also designed for high impact and extreme temperature changes. To help prolong the life of the wheel and tire, they are also filled with Nitrogen.

Pressurizing the tire was the task being performed by the wheel and tire technician when the SRA pulled his tractor past the nose of the T-38 and cut towards the wingtip in preparation to drop off the equipment. As he pulled his tractor past the wheel and tire technician and the Nitrogen cart, he heard a dull explosion and blood splattered across the cab of his tractor. At that point he stopped everything he was doing.

The subsequent investigation revealed that one critical mistake had been made. Unfortunately, it cost the life of the wheel and tire technician.

Without having to read the report of the incident, I know that certain things were accomplished, and that the individual who died knew certain other things that should have prevented this from ever occurring.

  1. This individual had reached a certain level of proficiency that is classed as “skilled” in the task he was performing with the tire.
  2. He had performed this task many times, both with, and without supervision. In all probability he had also been evaluated on this task for his proficiency and knowledge.
  3. The Technical Order specifically directs every step of the task. Whether you are just beginning, or are the most highly skilled technician on the line, you must have the Technical Order open and follow it every step of the way. Regulations demand it.
  4. That same Technical Order contains “Warnings” “Notes” and “Cautions” that inform everyone of things that will, or can occur while performing the task. Pressurizing a tire would have had a “Warning” prior to the step of pressurizing the tire, informing anyone of the fact that improperly performing this task could result in severe injury or loss of life.

The SRA informed me that the investigators found that the wheel and tire technician had improperly selected the high pressure side of the cart and had applied 3000 PSI to the tire while he was immediately adjacent to the tire. The results were predictable. The most devastating thing about the whole incident is: HE KNEW BETTER!

You know — it is not a stretch to apply this one to spiritual warfare: How many times do we know better, and still do it anyway?

It is evident that Solomon knew better than to take so many wives. It is evident that David knew better than to look upon, let alone touch Bathsheba. It is also evident that David knew better than to number Israel. In fact he was specifically warned against it. It is again evident that David also knew better than to have more than one wife as well. Just what were the Lord’s words against such actions, and when were they given?

When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)

Thus we find that the Lord had given specific warning about the very issues that snared both David and Solomon before Israel ever even entered the land of Canaan, and long before they asked for an earthly king.

And what about Demas from the New Testament?

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. (Colossians 4:14)
Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.
(Philemon 1:24)

Just how long did one have to be in the company of Paul the Apostle to understand the dangers of following after the world? Demas was considered by Paul to be a fellow laborer in the Gospel. Obviously, Demas knew that friendship with the world was enmity with God. How could he miss “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:18-19)?

The problem is, he didn’t miss it. No, Demas knew what the Lord Jesus Christ stated. Yet, as we see:

For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10)

I think the problem lies in the following:

We believe that all we have to do is maintain our doctrine and we will be okay. If we just get taught, and then hold fast, we will make it. If we really want to be a go-getter, we will teach Bible studies, or get actively involved in a ministry and that will help maintain our strength and stand in the doctrine.

Except that violates all the evidence of history. It also violates the scriptures and the construction used in scripture. By that I mean:

The history of war plainly shows that the best defense is an outstanding, well-executed offense.

Moreover, and more importantly; scripture states:

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. (Romans 13:13)

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: (1 Corinthians 9:24-26)

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (Galatians 5:7)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)

All these plainly indicate that progression is to be made. That we are to be proactive in opposing this world. After all, to run (or to walk) means that one must necessarily move forward. In the case of spiritual war, in which we are all involved, it means to be on the offensive. If a soldier merely sits on the battlefield and simply occupies a patch of ground, he is not going to take any territory. Moreover, eventually an adversary will come along and begin to dislodge him from his position. This is a continual problem with individual soldiers and thus armies in peacetime. Since there is no active opponent, they get complacent and secure in their position, weapons and tactics. So when an active war erupts and they go to battle, they suffer needless loss as they were not really prepared.

As all this applies to the church; we should understand the proper interpretation of the following verse as supporting what is previously stated: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Again, it must be emphasized: This is a war of deception. Satan does not want you and I to understand that we are really at war. And, if we do, he wants us to believe that merely maintaining our position will keep us secure and immune from defeat. He dearly loves it when we think we cannot fall, (or we do not take the possibility of falling away seriously) as he now has us in the perfect position to fall. It is the most difficult of things to keep in mind. After all, don’t we know so much? How could we then fall?

It’s quite easy — complacency kills.

Finis

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Introduction

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

The following articles were written primarily for the church I attended for several years. They were formatted for the church bulletin, and were an attempt to have my brethren (including my pastor) understand the primary ways the spiritual war which we are involved in, is fought. The articles focus on our actions and the effect they have on others in influencing them either for, or against the Lord and His gospel. These articles also focus on attitudes we have and how they are a detriment to our effectiveness as a witness for the Lord.

I speak of these things from experience. You will find that many of the articles are written from a personal experience point of view and the examples are incidences that have spiritual parallels. My experience is a military experience. I was in the USAF and Arkansas ANG long before I was saved. I retired from the Arkansas Air National Guard after 9 years service. Prior to that I served as active duty Air Force for 11 years, for a total of 20 years service. I was an NCO with the rank of Staff Sergeant, and a line supervisor for years. I have been (not so much now) an avid student of history, particularly of war and its consequences. Even today, I keep tabs on events in the world, principally of events that have significance for the Lord’s church and its effectiveness in the world. In addition, I keep watch on the Lord’s judgement of the United States for forsaking Him and His commandments.

Please read these articles with an open heart and mind. They are meant to exhort all of us (including me) to do far better than we do. Our separation from the world and its wickedness are not light things to the LORD God.

Sincerely in Christ,

Paul W. Davis

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Spiritual Warfare

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Spiritual Warfare: The term brings to mind all kinds of strange ideas that range from “prayer warriors” to “casting out demons” to literally standing face to face with Satan, being a “general in God’s army,” to ‘our church is the special forces in God’s army,’ etc., etc.. All of which are either partially or totally false. Moreover, where some people find this in Scripture is beyond me. Actually, spiritual warfare is a whole lot like regular warfare in some ways: For a very long time nothing happens – then all of a sudden events occur – then nothing perceptible happens again. Moreover, wars are not won in the flash, glitz and glitter of the demonstration of power and force (This is why the “Shock and Awe” campaign in Iraq was a failure). Rather, wars are won by logistics, discipline and training. That is why history records many instances of small, disciplined forces defeating much larger, yet less disciplined forces time and again. An excellent example of this is the battle of Cannae in 216 BC in which Hannibal defeated a far larger Roman force in the space of one day. An excellent Biblical example of this is Abraham’s excursion against the four kings after they defeated the five kings of Canaan and took Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and his household captive. A careful reading of the passage reveals that Abraham’s servants were trained in war. Along with Mamre, Aner and Eschol, Abraham and his servants pursued the four kings and defeated them in a night battle. Without doubt, the forces of the four kings were far larger than the force Abraham and those confederate with him could assemble. However, training, discipline and (most of all) the blessing of the LORD carried the day. Thus, there is a lesson for the child of God: That proper biblical training and a disciplined life are necessary in the spiritual war that we all are engaged in. In short, if you don’t know the Scripture, how can you possibly use the primary weapon the Lord has given you, which is the Scripture? If you are not willing to live a separated life, how can you be confident in what faith reveals to you from the Scripture? How can you be confident that the Lord is actually guiding you in all that you do? Moreover, since this spiritual war centers around the salvation of souls, if you don’t walk the talk, will those whose souls you are fighting for ever listen to you? Will you have credibility in their eyes if you act like the world, but talk like the Bible? You know, it is not enough for a soldier to talk all about weapons and tactics and war – if he never trains for war with his weapons using the tactics he was taught. Worse yet, even if he is trained, what if he never shows up for the battle? In either case, the soldier is a waste of time and effort to the country he is supposedly fighting for. It should not be a shock to realize that it is the same for the born-again child of God. With these things in mind, we should understand that spiritual warfare is also very different from regular warfare. After all, who ever won a battle by fleeing the battlefield? But that is exactly how Joseph won the battle against Potiphar’s wicked wife. By fleeing fornication Joseph won a significant victory that enabled the LORD God to use him to save his entire family from starvation in a famine that was, at that time, years in the future. Even though for the moment it seemed that Joseph had lost (after all, it got him thrown in prison), actually victory was assured and (from the point of view of man) God’s plan would go forward. Thus, I leave you with the above thoughts to consider. I pray that the following articles provoke you to consideration of your own effectiveness in the war everyone is engaged in. In Christ, Paul W. Davis


General Articles

Lessons

Issues of Covenant

Introduction What Kind of War Some Hard Questions
Complacency Kills The Television Doing It By the Book
Counting the Cost (A Memorial)   A Parallel
When “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Sufficient    
The Effects of Television    
     

Passing the Torch

Discernment

Visual Arts

Hypocrisy Lord of the Rings: First Letter “The Passion” Religious Movies and Faith
Asymmetrical Warfare Lord of the Rings: Second Letter Emotional Appeal and Preaching the Gospel
The Hidden Hypocrisy    

Satan and the War

   
A Tactic of Satan – Stealing Time    
     
     
     

 

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Looks Like We’re There Already

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

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The above message is a prime example of how not to fight the spiritual war we are all involved in.

Why?

Because the doctrinal implications of the message run quite contrary to the Scripture, and sends an, at best ambiguous and at worst flat wrong, message.

Now, I know that the people that put up this message mean well. I am relatively certain that they do not intend harm to the message of salvation, or to its Author. However, if we consider what the Scripture has to say, versus what the sign says, we will find a distinct dichotomy. Why do I see it this way?

Consider the following:

The message of the sign is thus:

If we are to avoid spiritual foreclosure, we need to bank with Jesus.

This is reworded, but the meaning does remain the same. Since that is the message of the sign, its plain implication is that we are by default, spiritually solvent. What that would have to mean doctrinally is that we are already justified before God, and that if we do not “bank” with Jesus, we will experience “foreclosure.”

Assuming that the word ”bank” as it is used here, means that one is trusting Christ for their salvation, and that the word “foreclosure,” as it is used here, must mean to lose one’s salvation, or to be cast into Hell, then we must conclude that the implied meaning is that, at some point, we might fail to trust Christ and thus be found wanting before God.

However, that is not what the Scripture declares to be the case. Perhaps the most famous passage of Scripture is John 3:16, which declares the wonderful and lovely message of salvation that is available to everyone.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

However, everyone seems to stop there as well, and absolutely go no further in the passage. The problem is, is that the imperative of believing the gospel is lost if one stops at the 16th verse. If we continue on, we find that verse 17 is very much like verse 16. But, verse 18 contains a very strong warning to those who refuse to believe:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18)

Verse 18 tells us two very important things:

  • Those who have believed in Christ for their salvation are not condemned.
  • Those who have not believed, are already condemned.

You see; we do not have to do anything to be sent to hell. If we just live out our lives and ignore God, or play the religious game and never actually come to Christ for our salvation, we are already condemned and our destiny is set — we will go to Hell. In short we are, in the vernacular of the sign, in foreclosure already. Spiritually, our foreclosure happened a long time ago and we never noticed. If is possible to put it this way (and I’m not certain it is) what we need to do is get out of spiritual “foreclosure.”

But, this does raise another question as to the viability of the message of the sign. What is meant by the term “bank with Jesus?” Whatever they meant by the use of the phrase, is not all that clear to me. In fact, it really could be taken at least two ways for sure, and more if we think about it.

If we take it the most obvious meaning of the term, it means that one is to allow Christ to carry something in trust. Taken with the rest of the message, and the fact that a church put up the message, it definitely means something spiritual, but really is unclear as to what that spiritual thing is. We can assume that it is one’s soul, but we really cannot be certain.

The second meaning is more akin to buying fire insurance. If we want to avoid foreclosure, let’s “bank with Jesus” and that won’t happen.

However, neither one of the above meanings even comes close to explaining what salvation is, and why it is imperative that one come to Christ for salvation. Nothing is spoken of, or even implies, that faith has to be operative, and that one must repent. However, the Scripture declares that both are required before one can be saved.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:2-5)

Thus, two vital elements for coming to Christ for salvation are not even hinting at in the sign. Instead, we are told that we should “bank with Jesus” if we are to avoid “spiritual foreclosure.” Moreover, we are not told what in the world the phrases “bank with Jesus” and “spiritual foreclosure” actually mean. Rather, we are left to draw our own conclusions.

When it comes to fighting this spiritual war, unfortunately the individuals at the church which posted this sign have little to no understanding about the critical need for getting the message correct. Without an accurate message about what the gospel is, and what one must do to be accepted in the sight of the LORD God, they will, without ever realizing it, condemn individuals to an eternity of unimaginable suffering in Hell.

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How Trite Can We Be?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
OsageAOG_sign1 (104K)

In this spiritual war we are all involved in, there is a need to insure that the message preached is perceived as being serious. One of the greatest detriments to that is the sad fact that many churches and “Christians” out there do not perceive this to be the case at all. All they are focused on is how they appeal to the larger population so as to gain members, without regard to how they get those members. Thus, there is a solid reason for the title. Look at the picture above and be honest with yourself about the seriousness of what they are stating. The question must be asked:

How trite can we be?

It is obvious that the whole attitude of the sign trivializes a very real issue.

If we were to do a comparison, it would not be difficult to compare the issue of salvation to a defect or malfunction on an automobile. Almost everyone understands that brake failure on an automobile is a serious issue. If you had a friend that had a car with brakes which were in imminent danger of failing, you would be utterly serious and earnest in telling them to get the brakes on their automobile fixed, unless you just did not care about them. You certainly wouldn’t make light of it or joke about it. Rather, you would tell them what is at stake, and would contend with them about getting it fixed.

In comparison, how serious is the issue of the destiny of each of us after we die? Certainly, it is far more serious than the condition of the brakes on an automobile. After all, you may experience brake failure and survive quite well. It is not so with the issue of salvation and eternity. Once we depart off this earth, we will find ourselves in eternity with no recourse as to where we are. Moreover, we will be there a very long time, even forever. I say that, as it does not quite impinge upon people that eternity is forever — that it is truly unending and does not cease to be.

Hence, where one will spend eternity is a very critical issue. It is express from Scripture that there are only two places man will go: heaven or hell. There are no other options. The Lord made that very plain when he spoke of a judgment to come:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: . . . (Matthew 25:31-34)

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: . . . (Matthew 25:41)

It is inescapable that there are two, and only two very distinct divisions the Lord makes here. Clearly there is only a left hand and right hand, and everyone is placed into one of the two groups. Everyone on the right enters into heaven, and everyone on the left is cast into hell. Since there is such a clear division, it is reasonable to ask: What is the dividing line? The answer is very succinct:

The Gospel

Since this is the case, just how serious is the message of the Gospel? How serious is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ had to die for our sins, seeing that it was the only way that the judgment of God could be satisfied? And yet, how serious is the message put forth by Osage Assembly of God church on their sign?

Simply put: It isn’t.

In fact, the message is nothing but trivial and trite, and cannot be seriously taken any other way.  Isn’t a church supposed to be about preaching, not only the gospel, but the seriousness of the gospel? Isn’t a church supposed to bring the message that the price for our sin is extremely high? In fact, the Scripture is express that the wages of sin is death. For any of us to have salvation made available to us, it was essential for the Word to come in the flesh and die in our place. Outside of the salvation that is in Christ, there is no escape from the spiritual death and subsequent suffering in the lake of fire for all eternity.

Unfortunately, what is displayed by the above sign is at best total ignorance of the seriousness of the Gospel, and at worst a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross on our behalf. Sadly, no one will tell this church and its leadership that they are mocking Christ and giving the Atheists justification for their mockery of Christianity. Is it any wonder that people reject the Gospel message in this society? After all, all the above sign tells me is that I need (at best) fire insurance. However, I am assured that those who are responsible for this sign will hear about this again – from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Moreover, I am absolutely certain that He is not now pleased, and will express His displeasure when they stand before Him.

I leave you with a question that must be considered:

If you are unwilling or unable to deliver the message in a serious manner, do you honestly expect anyone to respond to that message in any serious manner?

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Emotional Appeal and Preaching the Gospel

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

One of the things I have noted over the last several years is the increasing trend among fundamental Baptists toward an emotion-laden presentation of the Gospel. This comes in the form of plays or dramas, puppet shows for children, and movies about Christ. All of these are emotional appeals that seem to move otherwise unmovable individuals to salvation in Christ. However, this method and its fruit need to be seriously examined in light of the only standard that exists for judging any and all our actions and methods of presenting the Gospel:

The Scriptures.

While there are many who argue that Scripture does not restrict us from presenting the Gospel in whatsoever manner that we deem effective, their claims must be checked against the Scripture to determine the actual validity of their statements. Now, on its face the claim may appear to be true: but if we take a deeper look at what the Scriptures actually state, and the principles contained in those Scriptures, a different picture does emerge: one that is not so approving of the use of emotion in presenting the Gospel.

The most emotional appeal we have in Scripture concerning the Gospel comes from the rich man in Hell. It is plain that this man does not like being where he is, and does not want any of his family to come there. The essential portion of the account, as applicable to this article, follows:

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.(Luke 16: 27-31)

It is the last statement made by Abraham in response to the (former) rich man’s plea to send Lazarus back from the dead that is telling. Abraham would not even entertain the idea of sending Lazarus back from the dead to testify of the Gospel. Instead, Abraham states: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” This response is recorded for all who read to understand that, as powerful a witness it is for one to rise from the dead, it does not impact the heart the way the Scriptures do. In fact, every indication is that the emotional impact of such an event may not do anything but further harden the heart against the Gospel. At a very minimum, if someone has such an experience, they may become “inoculated” against the Gospel as they substitute the emotional experience for actually believing Christ in faith and repentance.

However, since there are those who protest this conclusion, and those who cannot understand why Abraham would set forth such a restriction on the presenting of the Gospel (after all, it certainly appears that Abraham is stating that the Scriptures and the plain preaching of the Scriptures are the only approved means of presenting the Gospel), it is necessary to apply the rest of the Scriptures that address this issue.

If we begin in the Old Testament, we find that the LORD made it very plain whose word the Scripture is, and to what purpose it exists. Specifically, in Isaiah, chapter 55, the LORD is clear and express about His salvation and the role His word performs in the salvation of a soul:

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.(Isaiah 55:6-11)

This statement is reinforced in the New Testament in Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 12 where it speaks of the word of God as well:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Moreover, in I Corinthians, chapter 1, the following statement is given by the apostle Paul under inspiration of the Holy Ghost:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.(I Corinthians 1:17-21)

Notice what is stated above: that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching . . .” and that to those who will perish, the preaching of the cross, and preaching as a method and means of convincing people, is foolishness. This implies much about the current generation of ‘Christians’ who think that plain, old-fashioned preaching is not capable of moving people to accept Christ as their Saviour. It is quite clear that the vast majority of ‘Christendom’ does not believe that the plainly spoken and preached word of God is sufficient for much of anything at all. Rather, they believe that it takes plays, music, movies and rank entertainment to cause people to come to Christ.

Clearly, by the aforementioned Scriptures, those things are the means and methods of the world, and have nothing of God in them. Instead, they are the product of man’s reasoning and man’s methods, which are foolishness to God. These methods address the emotions, and move the emotions of man, but do nothing to the heart. It takes the Scripture, the word of God to penetrate the heart and lay bare the wickedness that lies within. The proof of this is manifest when you approach someone who has seen the plays and movies about Christ, and you begin to preach the Gospel to them — and they get very angry and tell you they do not want to hear it. Or, after they have seen a play or drama about where they will end up without the salvation that is in Christ, they say they want to know more, but when visited a couple of days later, they express little to no interest in the Gospel or the things of God.

In the final analysis, what is really going on here borders on rank heresy. Why? Because those individuals involved in and promoting such means and methods have set aside the plain word of God in favor of their own way. Granted, there are those who claim that these methods are simply a different form of presenting the word of God. However, that is manifestly untrue, since plays, music and movies present actions and emotion more than words. Moreover, instead of being mentally engaging, the tendency is to shut off thinking altogether and let the emotions have free reign when watching, or listening, to plays, music and movies. Even though a person may do this when someone is preaching, it is generally not the case, as they must engage the mind to listen to the words, since the words are where the attention is focused.

Secondly, and much more distressing, the reality is that presenting plays, drama, music, movies, etc., relieves the individuals participating in such endeavors of the personal burden of presenting the Gospel to those around them. Instead, the burden is shifted to the ‘group.’ This is a very convenient way of avoiding a bitter reality for many professed ‘Christians’: that they have no real message of Christ to bring, because they do not know Him personally.

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Vain Thoughts – Psalm 119:113

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

SAMECH. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. (Psalm 119:113)

What is a vain thought? Well, in the context of the verse, vain is described in the dictionary as empty, useless, devoid of meaning, or scripturally put, not profitable. In short, thoughts that do not produce anything of value, are vain.

Now, this is contrasted with the law of God by the use of the word “but”, which is a conjunction that draws a sharp distinction between the two parts. In so doing, the word of God makes vain thoughts and the law of God mutually exclusive. Now, this ought not be a surprise in that the LORD God draws many sharp distinctions in His word, and thus makes many things mutually exclusive. Among these are good and evil, grace and works (for salvation), holy and unholy, clean and unclean, etc.

However, in this one thing, the LORD is addressing how we think. The Psalmist makes it very clear that loving (or enjoying) vain thoughts and loving the law of God cannot co-exist in someone, in that they cannot serve two masters. Either the Psalmist will hate vain thoughts and love the law of God, or he will do the opposite. He cannot be double-minded. Now, this was made clear earlier in the psalm when he testified the following:

Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:104)

It is the “therefore” that demonstrates to us that we cannot have a co-existence in our minds of thinking of things that are false, and a love for the law of God. This is to say that we cannot think in ways, and about subjects that are empty of real meaning, unproductive, and contrary to the law of God, which is to say we cannot think about things that are manifestly not true. Hence, we cannot fill our minds, and think about things that don’t exist anywhere else except in the imagination, and are thus not real.

Now, I know in this modern age that there are those who believe that if you think it, it is indeed real, simply because you think it. However, that is utter nonsense in that we can think in our minds all day long that we can fly without any mechanical assistance whatsoever, but the simple laws that govern this physical universe will quickly prove that wrong. Thus, this simple illustration ought to prove that simply thinking it doesn’t make it real or true. All it is, and all it will ever be, is fantasy and a fiction that we have invented (if you will) in our minds to divert us from having to deal with the realities of this life.

By the same token, reading about someone else’s fiction and fantasy, is no different than coming up your own. In fact, in the eyes of God, to approve of iniquity, is just as bad as actually engaging in it. Why? Because all sin and iniquity begins in the heart and mind, long before it is acted upon, and to approve of sin and iniquity is, by implication, a strong statement that sin and iniquity are indeed right and proper and righteousness is not.

So, it should be understood that reading and partaking of that which is vain is no different that coming up with the those vain things yourself. After all, by implication, you approve of it when you partake of it. And, as the verse was very plain above, that is to set oneself against the law of God. Plainly, the 113th verse stated that the Psalmist hated vain thoughts, but loved the law of God. Notice that the word was not “and”, rather it was the express contrast of “but”.

We cannot serve two masters, for we will love one and hate the other, we will not love both equally, particularly when they are diametrically opposed. This the Lord Jesus Christ made plain when He stated:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13)

And again:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

Which confirms the principle of what is written in James about those who do attempt to, at once and the same time, live for Christ and love and enjoy the things of this world:1

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

To attempt to reconcile the dichotomy within ourselves and be comfortable with both vain thoughts and the law of God is to put ourselves in the worst condition of all in the sight of God: we are true hypocrites that are comfortable being double-minded. We should all understand where that leads: and it won’t be heaven.

This is why “Christian fiction” is such an oxymoron.

  1. Now this verse sits in the context of trusting the LORD to grant one’s request for wisdom, which, when one asks with uncertainty, one is double-minded concerning the LORD’s promise of understanding and wisdom for all who ask in all singleness of heart. The principle here is the same. One cannot ask doubting, being unsure of whether the LORD keeps His promises or not, all the while professing to “believe” the LORD.
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