If Salvation Was A Consumer Product

If Salvation could be purchased by human beings, its price would forever be rising. If the reality of the consequences of dying in sin was known, Salvation would only be available in the most upscale stores. If the reality of the beauty of eternity with God was known, only the wealthiest people might be able to afford Salvation. If we understood our value, then Salvation would be worth the ultimate price. And, an ultimate price was set and paid by Christ Jesus who, while we were yet sinners, died for us.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:28-30).

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Churches With Federal Tax-Exempt Status

There are no new winds of change. The rushing mighty wind of Acts 2 has already arrived and is the power of the church—the body of Christ. Rest assured that the Holy Spirit is orchestrating everything according to the will of God. The Word speaks of all these things that are happening. Nothing is taking God by surprise. We are commanded to be wise as serpents yet harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). It might be good to review Matthew 10 in its entirety. Add in at least Matthew 9:37-38 too.

Rightly divide the instructions. Jesus was never militant in opposing the will of man to preach the kingdom of God. We are fully instructed that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand still stands today as it did when they were the first words of preaching out of the mouth of John the Baptist and Jesus when he began to preach too. When Jesus speaks of not bringing peace to the earth but a sword, it is not militancy. It is speaking to the line drawn in the sand that the Gospel message brings. Saved by the blood of Jesus bearing fruit, or not. Faith in God and in his Word, or not. Walking in the spirit, or walking in the flesh. Doing what the Lord says, or not (Luke 6:46). There is absolutely no militancy as followers of Christ.

The world opposes the things of God. To be a friend with the world is to be at enmity with God—friend of the world, enemy of God (James 4:4, Romans 8:5-10). The world will do as it has done since the Fall. We will do as we have done since the quickening of the Spirit of God that dwells within us arrived when we put our faith in Jesus for our salvation. Those who have been whelmed in the Holy Spirit know and remain willing to do God’s will, and his will is to simply continue to “preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

As history has borne out, it is not always an easy task to keep declaring to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. There will be much opposition to the message, and it comes even in the form of legislation. Churches, be prepared to give up tax-exempt status. Be wise. The law already declares that to have a United States of America Internal Revenue Service designation as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) that the organizations “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” Not only the supporting of any particular candidate but also any “group of candidates” is prohibited. This is the law, and churches will abide by it if there is a desire to maintain tax-exempt status.

Now, consider a new law that may make it illegal for any tax exempt organization that performs marriage ceremonies to discriminate against same-sex couples desiring to be married. It is not at all beyond the realm of possibility for that, and more, to become law. Churches that refuse to abide by the law are under threat of losing their tax-exempt status. If things such as that become law, then it is law, it is law, it is law.  The church will either perform what the law instructs or will refuse and no longer enjoy tax-exempt privileges. No big deal. Render unto God the things that are God’s, and he will provide as he always does. Whether a coin in the mouth of a fish or dropping out of the sky (as it was given to me in a word), God will provide. Stay the course. Be wise and remain harmless.

Life and Death

copyright_aarts_2015_king_of_the_rockSpring is such a joyous time for me. The sunshine, the warmth, the freedom to be outdoors without bulky winter gear . . . Oh, and did I say sunshine? I crave the long hours of daylight that spring and summer bring.

Activity at the bird feeder changes from an occasional visit by an overwintering feathered friend to a busy local diner visited by sparrows, brown-headed cowbirds, European starlings, cardinals, rock doves (pigeons), a pileated and red-bellied woodpecker (maybe there is more than one of each), ducks and even rabbits. I have only seen one squirrel in our decade of living here, and he was not able to get up to the prize that awaited him at the bird feeder. Although when I did see him the first time, he was standing upright with his right fore paw having a firm grip on the feeder pole like he was an explorer who staked a claim to the mother lode. Continue reading “Life and Death”

Two Minute Bible – Sooner or Later You Will Stand Before God

Are you ready for the inevitable? If you answered yes, are you certain? If you answered no, I want to tell you that you can be ready!

In this video I misquoted a line from George A. Romero’s original “Night of the Living Dead” movie made in 1968. I said ‘Margaret’ instead of “Barbra” as it is spelled on websites discussing the movie. The iconic low-budget horror flick that became a classic of the genre has the characters of Johnny and Barbra visiting a Pennsylvania cemetery when they are attacked by zombies. Johnny was played by Russell Streiner, and Barbra was played by Judith O’Dea over four decades ago.

Regardless of their popularity today, there is no such thing as zombies. However, we will all face death. You have every breath and every heartbeat you are given to make a decision in this life to accept the free gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, or not. No matter what, sooner or later you will breathe your last breath, and that heart in your chest will cease to beat. But that is not the end. God’s word is clear that we will die, but then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Acts 4:8-12 and John 14:6 makes it clear that Jesus is the only way.

A Valuable Emerald

I was talking to my friend Frank Menhart Jr. today. He is a minister of the Gospel and was on his way to northern Pennsylvania to preach tomorrow. I was telling him how I took the emerald out of an old ring my wife and I bought for my mom a very long time ago. My mom passed away in 2007. She really liked jewelry whether it was real or costume.

It is unlikely that anyone would ever wear the ring again so I took out the emerald to use in a future painting that I haven’t painted yet. Artwork to me has more value than the ring. The stone of the ring had more value to me than the metal that held the stone. The stone holds more value because it is my mom’s birthstone. Even more so because it is a Chatham emerald.

Chatham emeralds are not naturally occurring gemstones. They are created in a lab. It is a real emerald, just created in a lab. They typically have more clarity. They are grown at about a rate of 1 millimeter per month on a colorless beryl seed crystal. That kind of stuff is right up my alley of interest. So having a lab created emerald that my mom cherished has value to me. Having it become part of artwork that I will create just adds to the value.

However, no object has eternal value. None of it will go with me when I die. The only thing that will go with me is the meaning behind the value that I have attributed to things. The real value is in the relationship. The real value is in the memories. The object is a token that prompts the recall of memories. Artwork is an expression of established memories.

Eternal value is what I seek now. There is value in my faith in Christ. I have a hope and a future. I am eternally established with God through what Jesus did for me on the cross. Where and in what do your values rest?