Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 18, 2019

Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Beginning of the End

The End of What?

Tomorrow is the day we observe Good Friday and while that is the day we remember the crucifixion, death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ; Easter Sunday is the occasion we celebrate His resurrection from the dead. A historic change in man’s relationship to God had occurred; by God’s grace the barrier between God and man that had been created by Adam’s deliberate sin of disobedience had been removed by the death of our Lord, the Second Adam from above.

You may recall in Genesis 2:15-17

“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Unfortunately Adam choose to disobey God and when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he, and all of humanity present and future died in Adam. As I’ve observed before, that means that you and I and every human born of a human father are born spiritually dead. It is the sin of Adam that created the barrier between God and man and the primary reason the Lord Jesus Christ suffered death as our kinsman-redeemer.

The Tearing of the Curtain on Good Friday

God gave us a symbol of the removal of this barrier when, at the time of the crucifixion, the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that access to God was now open to mankind through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

By his death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for all human sin for all time; sin had been removed as a barrier between God and man. As hard as it may be to imagine, personal sin is no longer the issue; the only remaining issue requiring resolution is receiving the forgiveness of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God.

The Good News

Because of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the end had come for sin as a barrier between God and man. This is effectively expressed in 1 John 2:1-2 where it is written:

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

I have written more on this in Is There One Unforgivable Sin?

The church can now proclaim a message of hope, a message of reconciliation and good news for a suffering humanity:

BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED!

(First published April 3, 2015, revised and updated)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 11, 2019

Palm Sunday 2019 and its Enormous Significance!

April 14th, 2019 is Palm Sunday

This Sunday we observe and remember the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where He had come to die. This week was to be a terrible time of testing for the Jewish nation although they had no idea of the great significance of what was to happen from that point on.

The exact date for this momentous event had been prophesied by the Prophet Daniel and that prophecy, among many others, was being perfectly fulfilled by our Lord as He rode into the city. I would say it was certain that among the tens of thousands present that day only the Lord understood the staggeringly wondrous truths that were being put into place as that amazing prophecy was fulfilled.

Four hundred and eighty three years had passed since the beginning of the third and final group of three 490 year periods that had been given to Israel by God. The second group had ended with the Babylonian captivity and now the third group of 490 years had been put on hold at year 483 as also foretold by Daniel; I have written on this in some detail in a three part series, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.

Israel was being set aside for an unspecified number of years while a mystery was revealed, the mystery of the church and the age of grace, the age in which we now live. The remaining 7 years promised to Israel would resume at a point yet future when Israel would sign a covenant with the Antichrist.

The Entry into Jerusalem

Contrary to what we customarily celebrate, the entry was on a Monday, not a Sunday and it was not triumphal for our Lord; it was a time of great sadness as evidenced by Luke 19:41-42 where it is written, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

The particular Greek word used for wept means a loud wracking sob; our Lord’s body was shaken by His sobs as He entered Jerusalem. He is likely the only one who understood the enormity of what was happening; the Jewish nation was being temporarily set aside, their rejection of their Messiah was going to yield great suffering for centuries to come. Their judgment would be severe and is still in force today.

It is likely, in His omniscience, that Jesus saw the Jerusalem of 70 AD as destroyed by Titus and could also see the bodies of some of those welcoming Him as they lay silent in death. This was a momentous, tragic moment that was being recognized only by the Lord and the thought of what was going to befall Jerusalem and His people reduced Him to wracking sobs. I suspect His disciples were totally confused by His reaction to the sight of Jerusalem and the excited crowds.

From the Shephard’s Notes.com (I encourage you to follow this link!)

There is another extremely touching aspect of our Lord’s entering Jerusalem on Nisan 10. If we examine Exodus 12:3 we read, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month (Nisan) each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” This was part of the instructions given to Israel on the occasion of the first Passover in Egypt. The family would select a perfect lamb and place it on display in front of their dwelling so all could see they were offering the Lord their very best.

God’s Passover Lamb put on display

On March 30, AD 33, the 10th of Nisan, the Father put His Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world on display for all Jerusalem to see that the Father was offering them His very best. (In 2019 we are in year 5779 according to the Jewish calendar and the 10th of Nisan will be Monday, April 15th.)

After the passing of that day Israel had been set aside for an undetermined number of years. Today we are at year 1,986 and still counting as Israel continues to suffer judgments until the return of the Lord they rejected.

The countdown clock on Israel’s last 490 years will recommence when Israel signs a covenant agreement with the Antichrist; this event and not the rapture of the church will be the trigger that starts their final countdown and the beginning of the Tribulation.

While this was an amazing week, filled with suffering and anguish for our Lord and judgment for Israel, it was the reason our Lord took on human form; that was necessary that He might die for our sins. The moment of triumph was coming soon, the following week our Lord would rise from the dead having perfectly paid the price of our redemption.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

(First published March 28, 2015, updated and revised)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 5, 2019

Rejoicing Each and Every Day

What Does God Require of You?

A message I always get from the Old Testament is the amazing patience of God. I’m particularly fond of the advice given to Israel in Micah 6:8 where it is written:

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

To do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God is something we can all do from the greatest to the least of us. As born-again Christians let us think more on what it is the Lord requires of us.

The vast majority of us are what might be called, “ordinary Christian men and women.” We will not be listed in the history books nor have statues erected in our honor but we will have made the most important decision anyone can make in this mortal life; we will have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and joined the ranks of God’s elect and members of God’s royal family!

While the reality of that decision is eternal and unalterable, we are left with the responsibility of living out the balance of our mortal lives in an alien and hostile environment. I have written more on that in “To the Soldiers in the Spiritual War.” This is part 1 in a three part series which discusses our situation as soldiers of the Lord, living out our lives on a spiritual battlefield.

The question I would like to consider now is the impact of our spiritual situation on our quality of life. What does the Bible tells us about how we should face life and deal with the reality of the spiritual war which surrounds us?

What Does the Bible say on Joy?

God knew from eternity past that his children would grow up in a difficult environment and has provided a lot of guidance and counseling in the Bible to help us through the tough times we would encounter. While there are wonderful words of advice in both the Old and New Testaments my thoughts are always drawn to the verses in Philippians 4, where Paul writes:

“4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

As I look at the key points being made, these come to mind:

1. Always be full of joy in the Lord.

2. Don’t worry about anything.

3. Tell God what you need and be thankful for all he has done.

4. Focus your thoughts on the right things, things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

5. Apply those things to your life at all times.

What should you expect if you do those things? You should expect to experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. You should know, with complete confidence the God of peace is with you, now and forever!

Inner peace does not remove us from the spiritual battlefield but it can protect us from the emotional conflicts which assail so many. Every Christian who has ever lived has faced this conflict between external turmoil and internal peace. What is important is to spiritually rest in the Lord as we faithfully serve him in accordance with the gifts and opportunities we have been given.

I’m reminded of the story of Hudson Taylor who, as a missionary to inland China, had to learn the vital necessity of resting in the Lord in the midst of external pressures. By God’s grace, he learned the value of the “Exchanged Life” which permitted him to faithfully serve the Lord in difficult circumstances with complete inner peace. I have written more on this in “The Normal Christian Life,” a two-part series on the exchanged life.

Why do I Bring this up Again?

As an 86-year-old Christian great-grandfather, it saddens me to see brothers and sisters in Christ who are still trying to carry their burdens alone. I can say with complete honesty I am filled with the joy and peace of the Lord the great majority of the time. This is with absolutely no credit to me, all I have done is learned to rest in the Lord; I have learned to embrace the exchanged life; the life I live belongs to Christ.

My favorite life verse is Galatians 2:20 where it is written:

20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Each chapter in the book, “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret” starts with a short poem or quotation; Chapter one starts with one that has captured my imagination and buried itself in my memory; I encourage you to let it do the same to you.

One final word of advice from the Lord:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

This, I believe, is what the Lord requires of his children.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 29, 2019

Your True Home

Jeff Wells is a beloved brother in Christ who is pastor of WoodsEdge Community Church. I have subscribed to his devotionals for several years and from time to time one of his writings will strike home with particular force; this is one of those writings.

Your True Home

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Psalm 90:1

Sometimes a husband who has been married to his wife for a long time, and who is deeply in love with her, can truly say: “Home is wherever my wife is. I am home whenever I am with her. Wherever on the globe she happens to be, that’s home.” That’s the way I feel about my wife, Gayle.

But what this husband says of his wife is most true of God. For the deeply devoted believer, home is found in God. Home is found not in a place, but in a person. Home is being with God. He is my home.

Moses gives voice to this heart at the outset of Psalm 90: Lord, you are our dwelling place. You are our home. You are our place of refuge. Indeed, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.

Because God is God, because he is the everlasting God, because he was God before the Rocky Mountains were formed, because he was God before the creation of the universe, because he has been God from everlasting and will be God to everlasting, God is our true dwelling place.

Home is being with God.

He is your heart’s true home. He is what you’re looking for. He is what you’re longing for.

March 29, 2019

© 2019 WoodsEdge Community Church. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for any non-commercial use.
http://www.jeffhwells.com/devotionals/

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 25, 2019

“Watching all the Girls go by” Living at Peace with Your Tent.

Peace

Playing the Hand You’ve Been Dealt.

Let’s face it, the basic configuration of your temporary dwelling, your tent, is something you inherited from your parents. While it is true, the maintenance and care you give it has a profound effect on the long-term functionality and appearance of your tent, the basic design elements, however, are programmed into your DNA and you have nothing to say about that.

A key point in making peace with your tent is to recognize it as a temporary arrangement; the sooner one accepts the inevitability of leaving one’s tent behind the easier it becomes as that eventually happens in the family. Always keep in mind, you are not your tent, you are an eternal spirit temporarily occupying a tent which is a product of this earth!

Living with Your Tent

I have heard the expressions, average build and height and average appearance many times, especially if one watches the crime shows or the news. Are there consequences for being above or below average? I believe there are consequences in both directions; for a woman, being unusually beautiful can impose a burden just as much as being unusually unattractive. If asked, most women would probably opt for being unusually beautiful but that, to a great degree, is largely a matter of DNA.

For men, appearance is balanced, to some degree, against physical or financial accomplishment. While it helps for a young man to look handsome, if he is a major sports figure or financial success, that can shift the balance in his favor.

One of the factors that makes people watching so interesting is the vast number of differences that occur in the distribution of those features we all share in common. Our general configuration is shared by every human being who has lived on the face of this earth; we all have the same equipment according to our gender, yet we have little trouble in distinguishing between various people.

Slight changes, here and there, produce dramatically different results in people and while there are clearly types of general appearance, within those types, one may observe an endless variety of possibilities. Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the observer; standards for what is thought of as beautiful vary dramatically all over the world.

Deviating from “average” in either direction can introduce complications for either man or woman; it has the potential to shift attention away from the occupant and to the tent; that is dangerous territory as the tent is transient and the occupant is eternal.

Anything that directs the occupant’s attention away from eternal, spiritual matters to the temporal is treacherous and filled with dangers! It is truly sad when the appearance of the tent becomes an essential part of the identity of the occupant as nothing will stop the steady deterioration of the tent.

I have definitely been impressed with how rapidly the tent changes; as I look back, it is easy to recall the dramatic changes that have impacted everyone I know. People I first knew as babies are now grandparents or even great-grandparents and it all seemed to happen so fast. To place too great an emphasis on something that changes so quickly is truly missing the point; it is the occupant that counts, not the tent.

Being at Peace with Your Tent

While we inherited much of what makes up our tent, we have a serious responsibility to see that our tent is cared for respectfully. As Christians, we have been joined in our tents by God, the Holy Spirit and are told our tents have, in effect, become God’s tabernacle on earth.

While Israel was wandering in the wilderness, the Spirit of God inhabited the Tabernacle; when Israel was settled in the Promised Land, the Lord permitted the construction of the Temple by Solomon. As the church, we have yet to reach our promised land and during our mortality are wandering in Satan’s wilderness of sin.

By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit now resides in the tents of the born-again Christian; I’m always mindful of Paul’s admonition to the Church at Corinth where he tells them in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.

Just as the Jews respected and cared for the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in the Land, so should we respect and care for our bodies out of respect for the presence of God, the Holy Spirit within us! After all, we were bought at a price and must therefore glorify God with our bodies!

The union we have with God, the Holy Spirit is eternal and will never change; we have been made “heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ;” “our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the coming glory that will be revealed to us!”

The churches promised land is the New Jerusalem; that is our home and the place where we will someday live, our promised land. In Revelation 21 it is written:

And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”

“22 Now I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God—the All-Powerful—and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God lights it up, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

That is truly a blessed hope, one we shall enjoy from the vantage point of our eternal, heavenly bodies! In the meantime, let us be faithful to:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!Philippians 4:4

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 18, 2019

Watching all the Girls go by, You and Your Tent

School Girl

You are Not Your Tent

It is easy to fall into a trap, the trap of associating the tent with its occupant. While that is easy to understand, as the tent is all we can see, it is important to remember the truth about who and what we are; we are spirit beings created in the image of God who temporarily occupy a body of this earth; a body designed to be sustained by the products of the earth and which are strictly a temporary dwelling place for our eternal spirits!

I love the way David expressed his wonder about the amazing works of God, where in Psalms 139:13-17 he wrote:

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!

It is also important to remember, as spirit beings, we cannot be harmed by physical means, there is nothing, of this earth, that can touch us or harm us in any way at all. Our mortal bodies are another matter entirely, they can indeed be touched and harmed and even destroyed by things of this earth as they are of this earth while we are of God.

I’m reminded of the news alert where it is announced that a house burned down but no one was home so there were no injuries or deaths. Our tents are empty when they stop living; our spirits have departed and left an empty tent behind; in fact, it is the departure of our spirits which creates the situation called death, which is sometimes referred to in the Bible as sleep. I am saddened when I see a family in great sorrow over the loss of a loved one as if the departed one was the tent they had occupied for a time.

As Christians, we return to our Lord and are present with him at the moment of death; the tents we leave behind were never to be anything more than a temporary shelter. Paul expresses this thought beautifully in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 where it is written:

“6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

A Personal Example

Our first son, a devoted Christian, died of an inoperable brain cancer in 1985; he had fought the cancer, a grade three Astrocytoma, for over four years but the cancer was not to be denied. He was admitted to a hospice as the end of his mortal life approached; it was on a Sunday evening and the immediate family was gathered around him as he breathed his last. I led in prayer and asked the Lord to give us the strength to demonstrate the abundant sufficiency of God’s grace in our time of testing.

His funeral was three days later and several members of the family had chosen to speak at the funeral. When I spoke I said the last three days have been the happiest days of our son’s life and I meant that with all my heart. He had arrived at home and was enjoying sights and sounds we cannot even imagine. After the funeral, the family formed a line at the exit and thanked the attendees for coming to the funeral as they left the service.

We had wanted that service to be the celebration of a life that had brought so much joy to us, not mourning the loss of a beloved son; we wanted it understood that this was not the end for our son, but only the beginning of a new phase of his life! By God’s all-sufficient grace, I believe he honored my prayer. There was sadness, and it was a life-changing time, but it was also a time of hope and rejoicing in the promises to come.

His picture is on my desk and not a day goes by I don’t miss him; but I have the confident knowledge that someday I will see him again. While his tent has returned to the earth from whence it came; he is at home with the Lord and enjoying the rich blessings of heaven. My wife and I rejoice in our younger son and his family and our daughter and her family; their presence in our lives brings great joy to us both!

At a time, known only to God, this will all change; Paul speaks of this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 where it is written:

“13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Next time, “Living at Peace with your Tent.”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 11, 2019

“Watching all the Girls go by”

School Girl

You don’t know a nicer occupation

In 1956 a song was released that became very popular, “Standing on the Corner Watching all the Girls Go By” The song started out like this:

“Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by
Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by
Brother you don’t know a nicer occupation
Matter of fact, neither do I
Than standing on the corner watching all the girls
Watching all the girls, watching all the girls go by”

While the practice of girl watching is likely as old as humanity; the thought was set to a catchy tune and became very popular for several years and recorded by notable singers of the time.

Whether its boys watching girls, girls watching boys, babies watching babies, or just people watching people the practice of watching others has a well-established history of popularity. Over the years I have watched people with some interest and noticed the changes that have taken place as time passed by.

I no longer see “girls” or “boys,” I see human beings with a past, present, and a future; I wonder if they are spiritually dead or alive; I wonder what they are thinking and the nature of their concerns. Age has completely changed my perspective on people watching; time takes its toll on all of us and that happens somewhat more quickly than we may imagine.

The Visible Part of us is Temporary

The Bible reveals that the visible part of each of us is the only part that was not redeemed at the point of our new birth; while spiritually, every Christian has been born again into eternal spiritual life, our physical bodies still suffer under the Adamic curse and simply cannot accompany us into our eternity with God. Paul describes our physical bodies as tents in order to illustrate our short-term relationship with them.

Despite their temporary nature, they are the only part of us visible to human perception and therefore all too easily inextricably associated with the eternal spirit they contain. It requires a leap of faith to separate the tent from its occupant but that is what the Bible reveals to us; it must be discarded or transformed.

Paul goes on to explain, in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 it is written:

“5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

I’m particularly fond of Paul’s use of the tent as a symbol for our mortal bodies; we occupy these earthly bodies for a brief season then we move on in accordance with God’s plan. Nevertheless, there is an undeniable charm for me in tent watching; I have found it endlessly fascinating just to watch the tents go by and wonder about them. One thing for sure; they are like a book, they cannot be judged by their cover!

Tents Get Old and Wear Out

I’ve now occupied my tent for 86 years and it is beginning to show some signs of wear and tear around the edges. All told, it has been a faithful tent and has performed its designated job very well; I have no complaints at all (although being left-handed has produced some awkward moments).

Years ago, I made peace with the reality surrounding my tent and realized there would come a time when I must lay it aside and move on; I must admit I hope that time is in the more distant future! There is still much I want to do with the time I’ve been allotted and continue to rejoice in the deposit I’ve been given in the person of God, the Holy Spirit.

Next time, “You and Your Tent”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 1, 2019

Breaking Through the Painted Veil that Hides Reality!

Breaking the Chains that Bind You!

In May of 2014 I published an essay entitled, “The Painted Veil That Hides Reality.” In it I pointed out the challenge we face in distinguishing what is real from what is a transient facade. For some reason it has developed a life of its own and is read almost every day by someone, somewhere.

I have, for many years, observed the challenge I face, on almost a daily basis, in keeping my focus on the spiritual realities of life and living. The classic three, “the world, the flesh, and the devil” seek to misdirect my attention away from spiritual realities and focus it on the things of this world.

Society today seeks to point us toward the empiricist approach to life as opposed to a life of faith. If we were to examine a dictionary definition of empiricism, we would find something similar to the following:

em·pir·i·cism (ĕm-pîrĭ-sĭzəm) 1. The view that experience, especially of the senses, is the only source of knowledge. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Obviously, such an approach excludes faith as a valid source of knowledge. The message of the Bible, which is a message of faith, becomes completely irrelevant and even foolish as the Bible points out in 1 Corinthians 1:18 where it is written:

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Curiously, empiricism itself demonstrates how futile it is when it comes to living a life that is complete, and filled with peace and joy! The media is filled with breaking news of repeated failures to find the kind of peace and joy offered by a life of faith; the veil that has been painted by Satan is doing its job very well indeed.

A Life Filled with Challenge

The Lord knew his children would face these challenges and has given us a book of faith, the Bible, to help us find ourselves and provide the orientation we need to find our way in this troubled world.

In Hebrews 11 we are told of the necessity of a faith approach to life; in verse 6:

Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

In Romans 1:17 we read:

17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Later in Romans Paul tells us in Chapter 10, verse 17:

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

The Astounding Truth About the Reality in Which we Live!

By God’s grace, I have followed a journey of discovery which began for me as a young man; one manifestation of his grace to me was the gift of my wife to join with me in this journey of discovery. For over 66 years we have journeyed through life together and shared in the amazing discoveries God had planned for us.

It all began when we were blessed with a serious hunger for the word of God, the Bible, and began to discover the wondrous truths revealed there. There are no words to express the profound difference it began to make in our lives. As one might expect, our journey has been filled with obstacles, difficulties, failures and successes; it has not always been an easy road but God’s unfailing faithfulness to us always carried us through the really hard parts.

Out of all this has emerged a genuine awe for the true reality in which we live; the reality that God reveals in the Bible will outlast all we can observe with our senses. In a very true way, our senses have imprisoned us in a world that is little better than a painted veil; we experience those things we can examine with our senses and let that experience become the beginning and the ending of what, and who we are. It is like being confined to a very small cell and not realizing our creator God has already opened the door to our cell and is encouraging us to leave our cell and go beyond the confines of our cell of personal experience and explore the universe of faith that lies beyond.

We are Living in the Most Extraordinary Universe of All!

I have dedicated a number of essays to the subject of God’s reality and encouraged readers to step outside their cell and explore the eternal, spiritual realities that await them. As a science fiction enthusiast, I have read stories set in many different universes as conceived by the mind of the writer; I can promise you that none of those universes can compare to the universe described in the Bible, no, not to the very least degree!

The universe in which we live is infinitely more imaginative, exciting, and challenging than anything I’ve ever read in the field of fantasy or science fiction; I can promise you that! In “What is Reality?” I described the Triune God as the only true reality; I elaborated on that theme in a seven part series, “It’s All True, All of If.” 

The bottom-line truth is we are living in a totally fantastic universe that defies human imagination; the things God has done are off-the-charts amazing! What is rather shocking to me is how little attention this is given by those who have been incorporated into God’s plan by the new birth.

The Trinity has taken immense steps to redeem his fallen creation; the second person of the Trinity took on the humanity of his creation and permitted it to die to redeem it; the third person of the Trinity has come to earth to create an eternal bond by restoring their spiritual life and eternally indwelling those who have been born again.

These are staggering truths and should be a source of eternal rejoicing to all who have reaped the incredible benefits of God’s reality. I urge every one of us to stop looking through the iron bars of empiricism; to turn around and see the open door of faith and walk through it and fill your lives with God’s joy, peace, and rejoicing!

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 20, 2019

On Being Born of the Holy Spirit

The Vital Necessity of the New Birth

Last time I wrote on Satan’s efforts to confuse and deceive mankind regarding what’s really important, using race as a key problem dividing mankind in place of the new birth; I went on to explain that race is totally irrelevant in comparison to being born again!

Receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior initiates a series of spiritual changes that have eternal ramifications. Although these changes do not impact the temporary mortal bodies we inherited from Adam, they are, nevertheless, of critical significance to the new believer; let us consider some of the changes that take place in the spiritual condition of the born again believer.

(It is important to recall that we are primarily eternal spiritual beings, made in the image of God, who, at the moment, temporarily inhabit a mortal body made of the dust of the earth.)

The Bible records the experience of a man seeking answers from the Lord; this man, an important Jewish leader named Nicodemus, came to the Lord at night to get some answers. Nicodemus initially comments on the miracles Jesus had performed but Jesus immediately turns the conversation to the importance of being born again. In John 3:3 our Lord tells him:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus is confused and Jesus adds:

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The Roll of the Holy Spirit in the Birth of Jesus and the New Birth of Believers

Let us look back, for a moment, at the account we have of the birth of Jesus; in Luke 1:35 we read:

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

It is evident from this, the father of the humanity of Jesus was the Holy Spirit. Mary was a virgin yet she conceived a child by the power of God, the Holy Spirit.

Now, let us consider our Lord’s comments to his disciples regarding the Holy Spirit. In John 14:15-18 the Lord comforts his disciples:

15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

A key point in that statement is the shift of the Spirit from being with the disciples to being in them. That shift came at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit first indwelt believers thereby creating the true church, the body of Christ. Since Pentecost, all new believers are baptized into the body of Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Salvation is the new birth, by the power of God, the Holy Spirit, and the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each new believer. Before we are born again, we are spiritually dead and have Adam as our spiritual father; at salvation, we are born again by the power of God, the Holy Spirit, brought back to spiritual life and have a new spiritual father.

(Our mortal bodies still have Adam as their father and still suffer under the Adamic curse; our mortal bodies can have no part in our heavenly future and must die or be totally transformed into a heavenly body at the resurrection; the last living generation at the time of the Rapture of the Church will experience this instantaneous transformation.)

Paul speaks to this in 2 Corinthians 5:17 where it is written:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Again in 1 Corinthians 12:13 we read:

“13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

In Romans 8:16-17:

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Regarding the last living generation before the Rapture we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18:

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

A New Creation

As born-again Christians we are a new creation; we become children of God and joint heirs with Christ; our true spiritual selves are no longer constrained by the Adamic curse and we have imputed to us the righteousness of Christ. The Holy Spirit has become the instrument of our new birth just as he was the instrument of the birth of the mortal body of Jesus Christ; we share a common heritage with Christ thereby confirming his relationship to us as our “Kinsman/Redeemer!”

That is the reason Christ could tell his disciples in John 16:7:

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

Today we are living in the Age of Grace; God has extended an invitation to join him as his children by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. This age will end when the children are called home and the hand of God’s judgment falls on the earth. I encourage all who care to receive this invitation with thanksgiving; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from the wrath to come.

“20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”  Revelation 22:20-21

Painting by Adele Bower ©

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 15, 2019

Racism, Satanic Deception in Action!

(In July of 2016 I published the following essay, “Are you a white man or a black man?”; in light of the current focus on race, I felt it was timely to update and publish it again. I see racial conflict as a tool of Satan to hide the true issues mankind faces, issues of eternal consequences; racial divisions are a perfect example of Satanic deception!)

“Are you a white man or a black man?”

“I am sorry about this question but I truly want to know you.”

The two headings above are copied directly from a letter I received from a precious Christian brother in Nigeria which I answered from a Christian perspective. The overall tone of the letter was gracious and loving but it was the very first time I had been asked that question out of many thousands of letters I have received during my years as an online missionary for Global Media Outreach. That question and comment triggered a line of thought and meditation which has resulted in this essay.

It seems race is becoming an ever greater point of consideration, contention or even confrontation on the world scene; reports on the recent killings in Dallas reference a black shooter who said he, “wanted to kill white people.” The truly sad fact of the matter is despite the intensity of focus by the protesters and the media, race is of no importance at all with regard to spiritual matters of eternal significance.

There are Only Two Distinct Classes of People!

The entire population of the world is made up of only two classes of people; those spiritually alive and those spiritually dead! The second birth is the exclusive distinction that makes a deep and eternal difference in the lives of all people and there is no visible difference between the spiritually dead and the spiritually alive; race is truly irrelevant!

Racially we all descend from Adam through Noah; the gene pool was greatly reduced by the flood and while we can all claim Noah as an ancestor we are, at this point, divided between the three sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Genesis 10

There are many different nationalities in each group, the living and the dead, but their racial differences are of absolutely no consequence when it comes to their being spiritually alive or spiritually dead! The point of differentiation comes with the matter of the new birth; it is only by being born again by the power of God, the Holy Spirit that one moves from the dead to the living. People of any nation or race can make the transition from death to life by personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior!

Satanic Deception

Why then is the real issue of spiritual life and death so widely ignored? How is it that relatively inconsequential issues dominate the media and the minds of mankind? There is one obvious explanation for this, we are living on Satan’s world and Satan is the prince of the power of the air.

In the Bible we read:

“2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Ephesians 2:1-3

“9 This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.” Revelation 12:9

The children of wrath, the sons of disobedience, are deceiving and being deceived by the influences of Satan and Satan’s world; the truth that could set them free is being obscured by multiple fantasies of Satanic deception! Racial conflict, at any level, is playing right into Satanic deception by obscuring the issue of the second birth!

A Spiritual Battlefield

I have written extensively on the subject of the spiritual war and the search facility in the upper right-hand corner of this website will produce many examples. I have noted the very existence of a spiritual war is often ignored by the organized church and many Christians have no knowledge that such a war is even in progress much less understanding they are a soldier in that war. This continues to be a dangerous omission for the Christian community.

One of the major factors in this war for men’s souls is the world-wide ministry of God, the Holy Spirit. In John 16: 7-11 we are told of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the world:

“7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.”

I draw your attention once more to verse 9, “9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.” Why is that the world’s sin? Because all other sins were paid for in full by Christ’s death on the cross. I have written more on this in “Is There One Unforgivable Sin?”

When Christ said, “It is finished!” He really meant it! This is why the focus of the Satanic attack is to divert attention elsewhere; deception and distraction to keep the world’s attention on anything and everything but the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the critical importance of being born again! Sadly the organized church is falling into Satan’s trap and letting inconsequential issues take center stage while overlooking the critical preeminence of the second birth.

Whereas the ultimate victory has been won by Christ’s death on the cross, the battle is still raging and the Satanic forces of evil are still causing damage and destruction using many deceptions including racial conflict. Many thousands are, however, being turned from death to life by the power of God, the Holy Spirit but the warfare is still raging all around us.

A Strategic Withdrawal

At a time known only to God the true church, the body of Christ, will be removed from the Earth along with the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit; at that terrifying time Satan and sin will begin to have it’s way in a manner unprecedented on the Earth. Later, a covenant will be signed by Israel with the Antichrist and this event will start the last seven years God promised to Israel, a time known as the Tribulation. The time of the church’s strategic withdrawal may be near, only God knows the date He has planned for that event from eternity past.

In view of the staggeringly major events God has ordained for what I believe is the near future, let those of us who long for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ turn our backs on any form of Satanic distraction including racial division or conflict and keep our eyes and attention on what really matters. The mission of the church is to bring people to Christ by the new birth and help them as they grow towards Christian maturity. Let us join with the Holy Spirit in this epic battle to complete the body of Christ.

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