Archive for category Plan of Salvation

Converting

conversion-tips

For years I’ve had most of my savings in a traditional 401 IRA.  401 IRAs are employer-matching contributions, and since I no longer am employed by a company, I cannot invest money in a 401 IRA.  While I can continue to contribute to a lot of different IRAs that are tax deferred, I’ve chosen to put my savings in Roth IRAs which are not tax deferred. In other words, I pay the tax now when I contribute instead of later when I retire and withdraw. I’m basically taking a chance that taxes will be higher when I retire and thus will cost me less now.  To avoid tax audits and complications I’ve also decided to rollover my savings in 401 IRAs to Roth IRAs. By doing this I now have to pay the tax on those contributions, and so I only do a little each year to avoid huge tax payments.  I still believe it will be worth it in the long run, but converting from one to the other is complicated and very regulated.  There are multiple rules and regulations and tons of paper work to follow, but in the end, Lord willing, greater payoffs.  Bottom line; conversion is difficult but necessary and rewarding.

                         Consider the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8. Act 8:30-31 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  (31)  And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 

                         First of all, the eunuch is an objective and humble fellow. Most humans are too shy or prideful to proclaim that they don’t know something.  I’ve seen many a man who instead of asking for help, pretended he knew what he was doing and paid dearly for his ignorance.  The eunuch could have smiled and thanked Phillip and said, “Nah, I’ll figure it out,” or mocked him and proclaimed, “Who are you to show me what to do?”   Although becoming a Christian is not as hard as we make it out to be, there are things we must learn and understand in order to please our Lord.  Calling on His name sounds easy but the scriptures show that there is more to it than verbal proclamation.  We are encouraged to study (2 Tim. 2:15), excel (1 Thess. 4:1), examine (Acts 17:11), seek (Heb.11:6), and walk (Eph.5:8).  These are not passive steps in our pursuit of eternal glory but rather are active and needful of inquiry and investigation. In order for the eunuch to convert to the right path he had to know some things, not everything, just those things which would inform him of the way unto salvation and the cost of being a disciple. He needed to know the truth in order to weigh the benefits against the costs.  Once he sat down with Phillip and studied and understood the weight of what he learned, he chose conversion.

                         Second, his choice to convert to being a follower of Christ required action.  Having learned the things necessary for conversion he acted without hesitation. Acts 8:36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”  Often, when I’m converting my IRA’s at this time of year, I’ll hesitate and ponder for a while.  I’ll usually reread the procedures, look at the tax rates, contemplate how much I’ll have to pay in taxes, and deliberate over which fund I should put them in, etc. However, once I’m clear about it, then it’s, “Just Do It!”  Similarly, conversion is a process of learning, relearning, contemplation and then action.  In order for the conversion to take place, the eunuch had to stop the chariot, go down into the water and be baptized.  It required some effort and as the saying goes, “He had to get wet.”  I think that’s the hardest thing to just about any decision we make in life, “Getting wet”.  If you’ve ever done remodeling you know, the hardest part is starting, tearing out, making a mess.  But if you want that beautiful new kitchen or bathroom you’ve got to “get wet”.

                         Last, the eunuch was pleased with his decision to convert. Act 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.  His help was now gone! He was on his own. No one to hold his hand or show him the way. But that’s not really true for we forget the promise in Acts 2:38 of the Holy Spirit. He’s there to guide us, help us, encourage us.  The information is still there in God’s holy word, the prospectus of our investment.

Darryl Fuller

The Way to Heaven

The-Way-To-GodIf you Google “How do I get to Heaven?” on your search browser, you’ll get a plethora of answers. As you scan through these various answers, you’ll find a few to be true,  however the majority are wrong.  How, you say, do I know which is correct and which is wrong? The answer is simple!  The Word of God maps out the way to Heaven, free to any who will read and follow His directions.

 Hundreds of years before the way of salvation was opened, God, through the prophet Isaiah, said this: Isa 35:8  And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.  So plain would this way be that even a fool could find and walk it.

 Then, the builder of this path proclaimed in Mat 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. (14)  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  The way to Heaven is not a six lane highway.  If you think or listen to those who teach that entrance to Heaven is broad, inclusive, tolerant, STOP!  Get off that highway! Its destination is doom. The call is not bigotry! It is for all.  The truth is, few are willing to obey God’s commands (narrow and hard).

 What then is the way to Heaven? Let us look at the map (The Bible), and follow the directions carefully.  Jesus, first of all, directed us to follow Him.  He leads the way to Heaven. John 14:4-6  And you know the way to where I am going.” (5)  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  (6)  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  Gandhi is not the way. Nor is Mohammed, Buddha, Tao, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Joseph Smith, Joel Olsteen, or Darryl Fuller.  You can only get to Heaven by following these men, IF these men are following Christ. ( 1 Cor.4:15-16; 11:1).

To go on the way or path to Heaven, one must first come to it.  The path may be narrow and difficult, but it is plain and available for all to find, but we must be interested in finding it and then, desire to get on it.  Consider what Jesus said in John 6:44-45  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (45)  It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.  The way to Heaven is preceded by teaching or learning. Before the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, he had to know for what reason.  (Acts 8:30-31).  God’s intention is that all men be saved.  He desires that all of His creation come to accept Him (2 Pet.3:9).  This is why the Lord commissioned the disciples to preach the gospel to the whole world. (Matt.28:18-20) He is calling us to come to the path.

                Entrance, therefore, to the path is simple.  The toll was paid  by Christ.  We do not need to pay any price.  We need only to obey His voice and follow his commands.  When the people on the day of Pentecost learned of their error, they asked; “What do we do?’  Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38. If one really wanted to know the way to Heaven, they would read and pay careful attention to all the conversions in the book of Acts.  Entrance to the path to God is through the act of baptism!  The way to Heaven is through the spiritual death and burial of baptism. (Rom.6, Gal.3:27; Col.2:12).

                The way to Heaven or path is in reality Christ.  We could not bridge that gap, nor pave a way.  He was the only one that could do that and He did by giving his life to pay our way.  Entrance to Heaven is through Him.  He is the ark or vessel that will take us to Heaven. His body is the church (Eph.1:22-23). We gain entrance to that body through baptism (1 Cor.12:13).

                Heed His calling, come to the path.  Listen to His voice and obey His instructions.  Gain entrance to the vehicle that will take you to Heaven, Christ’s body, the church.  The ticket to get in is baptism for the remission of your sins.  Hurry, the departing time is near! Don’t wait!

 Darryl Fuller

The Sky is Falling

skyfallingI just pulled myself away from the morning news (all of it).  Apparently, the sky is falling!  It must be true because I looked out the window of my office and across the street I saw the chickens running around hysterically.  Indeed, some days, according to the prophets of doom (CNN, Fox, MSNBC, BBC, PBS, etc.), the world does appear to be crumbling away. It is like some scene from an Irwin Allen movie, where all is teetering on the brink of annihilation, yet the heroine’s hair is just fine and her mascara is not running.  The Dow Jones is down 300 points! Quick get to the bank!  The North Koreans have an H-Bomb! Time to build that bomb shelter. The President’s going to do away with the first amendment!  I better go buy all the guns and ammo I can get my hands on!

Fortunately, thanks to our Lord, we can ponder the mass embrace of the apocalypse for a moment and with a great sigh of relief, whew!, rest in the assurances of Him. Consider for a moment, what actually holds everything together.  Col 1:16-17 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.  (17)  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  It’s not a bad thing to plan or prepare for upheaval.  It’s not a sin to consider self-preservation.  However, we should remember that we are not in control.  We do not, contrary to popular opinion, control the world we live in or its outcome.  We do however, control our choices.  And with this power of choice, it would seem prudent and wise to cling and hold on to the one Rock that will not be destroyed, Christ.  If perhaps you’re wondering how we cannot be bothered or concerned about the fate of our country or world, the answer is easy. We tie our anchor to the Rock that will not move.  Have you done this?

 I have been splitting wood by hand this winter, mainly because it’s good exercise, and also because it’s a good form of meditation.  If you’re frustrated and mad just take it out on a good hard hickory or oak log.  Most of the wood that I’ve cut down over the year is good and dry, thus easy to split.  I’ve got one tree however, that has retained its moisture and has proven difficult to split.  I chopped on one of the logs for a good twenty minutes the other day to no avail. It just bounced off, unable to penetrate and create a fracture.  Finally, I gave up, rolled it off the stump, put a dry log on and within a few minutes had that log split up into 16 nice wedges. The wet wood was bound together with moisture. The wet wood is a good illustration of being held together.  In the same way, if Christ abides in us and we in Christ, we are bound by Him.  He is the force, the “it factor”, that holds us together. Eph 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  (16)  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

                Ultimately, we can with all confidence and assurance, not worry about the political races, the threat of ISIS or North Korea, the dip in the stock market, or the chaos that is engulfing the world is because when we are baptized, we are added to the church (Acts 2:41). The church that Christ died for and purchased with His own blood! (Eph.2:13, 1 Pet.1:18-19).  We are held together with the other saints by Christ who is the head of His church (Col.1:18).  We are on the ark (church), held together by mortar and pitch (Christ), ready to ride safely through the torrent of death (2 Pet.2).  Bold and Confident, you say? Only in Christ!  Are you?

Darryl Fuller

Get in the Boat

800px-The_Life_Line_1884_Winslow_HomerIn “Man Overboard,” a masterful short story written by Winston Churchill,  the anonymous character falls overboard from a “mail steamer” that is sailing east through the Red Sea. It is “a little after half-past nine,” the narrator informs us, “When the man fell overboard.” He’d left the ship’s “companion-house,” where a concert was in progress, to “smoke a cigarette and enjoy a breath of the wind,” when, leaning back upon a railing which gave way, he “fell backwards into the warm water of the sea amid a great splash.”  What follows is a harrowing tale of a man now separated from his companions and the safety of the ongoing vessel. With each passing second, the steamer moves further and further away, oblivious to the cries of help from the lost soul. Rescue and salvation fade into the dark of night as the wake of the ship is replaced with the rippling of sharks all around him.

 It’s a gripping story and one that reminds me of an equally fearful passage; Heb 2:1-3   Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  (2)  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,  (3)  how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,

This warning is echoed throughout the epistle, in Heb.4:1; 4:11; 10:28-29; and 12:25. The Hebrew writer appeals earnestly, through stark contrast, that there is dreadful and fearful judgment to escape and we must not miss the lifeline thrown to us. What is the lifeline but the words of Jesus, who bids us to come to Him?  Heb 12:25  See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.

It is apparent from my perspective that a lot of people, religious and non religious, don’t understand the brevity and doom of this world and all that is in it.  According to the politically correct, it’s morally wrong to say that “something” or “someone” is wrong.  Likewise, according to worldly thinking, many fear to speak against Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Hedonism, Humanism, or Mysticism for fear of being labeled a “bigot” or “homophobe”. On the contrary, it’s quite acceptable among those inclined to worldliness, to embrace these religions as other paths of faith or different avenues to God. However, God’s final message to all men (Heb.1:1), of judgment and salvation,  is through His son and His son alone. Act 4:11-12  This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  (12)  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  It may very well make people feel better about whom they are and where they came from by accepting their mistaken and misguided beliefs, but making them feel better about here, won’t rescue them from eternal damnation.  It is said that some on the Titanic refused to board lifeboats.  They stubbornly held to the belief that the ship would not sink or another form of rescue would come.  Sadly, the ship did sink and they rejected the only and last way off.

If I had to sum the Bible up in one word it would be “rescue”.  We are lost without the rescuer.  Jesus Christ came to Earth during the height of the Roman Empire, paid the price for rescuing us, and left the instructions (gospel) and lifeboat (church).  Read the instructions and get in the boat!    

Darryl Fuller

It’s Not Far

I Stopped at a small general store in the mountains of Tennessee, just outside Hartford years ago, to ask the proprietor how to get to a place called Del Rio. “You’re not far,” he said, “Just over the hill, you’ll come to a fork, take the right fork and it’s straight ahead.” 2 hours later, we finally, wound our way into the big town of Del Rio.

close but far

 Seems like “not far” can mean different things to different folks. To the old fellow who pointed me down the road, straight ahead meant not taking a left or right at the 30 forks after the first one! In his mind, as well as experience, Del Rio was as close as if he were a bird flying straight over all those ridges, dales and hollows. For me, Del Rio might as well have been Knoxville or Chattanooga, it would have taken less time to get to either place. I must have taken a right at every fork! What was I thinking?! You have to take a left at every other fork. Needless to say, and I hope you get my point, “not far”, is all a matter of perspective.

Once during Jesus’ ministry, the religious and pious leaders came to Him and tried to ensnare Him with several hypothetical traps. They threw out political scenarios to get Him in trouble with the Herodians and Caesar, which didn’t work. Then they tried controversy over the Resurrection, which the Sadducees didn’t believe in, and that backfired. Lastly, they tried scripture itself, by pinning him on what is the most important command, and this time the Pharisees failed to “get Him”. On the last attempt, the scribe was so impressed with Jesus’ answer, he complimented Him and expressed an appropriate view of scripture, to which Jesus replied; “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mk12:34

“Not far” is a fairly subjective statement.  Perhaps in the scribe’s eye, he indeed was close, and felt good about his position and status as an important religious leader. Maybe he took this opportunity to show off in front of Jesus and the others, seeing that they had been put into their place by our Lord.  Maybe he was indeed demonstrating a heart that was close to God, and merely enjoyed a true scriptural discourse with the Messiah.  “Not far,” can only truly be known by the one who has been there, and that of course would be Jesus.

I’ve seen a lot of people in this world who seem to be earnest and sincere in their devotion to their fellow man.  They even at times act or behave better than Christians. However, they never accepted Christ as their savior, or even acknowledged His ways. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

I’ve had a few studies with people about the gospel and obeying Jesus. Usually we’ll get to a particular point where, in their minds, obeying the gospel means condemning their parents or family. They let the emotional ties with loved ones dictate their hearts. This usually ends their willingness to study and examine the scriptures further to find the truth. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

I’ve seen people bring their families to the church parking lot, let them get out and go in. I’ve even seen them on occasions get out and help them in the building, then turn around and go back to the car and go home. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

I’ve seen people come to church during my lifetime, sit in a seat not more than 20 feet from the baptistery, but never take those extra few steps and get in. They were “not far” from the kingdom of God.

More importantly, I need to ask myself; Am I close or far away from the kingdom of God? Do I truly love God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength? Do I love my neighbor as myself?

The good news! The kingdom of God is nearer than you think! Act 8:12  But when Philip proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and about the name of Jesus the Messiah, men and women believed and were baptized.

Jesus knows! It’s not far away at all!

Darryl Fuller

The Greatest Mystery

Everyone loves a great mystery. It is basic human nature that we long to know revealed secrets.  Besides the Bible, mysteries, whether fiction or non-fiction, are the number-one best sellers globally. Writers such as Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sue Grafton, Plato and even Homer have kept us glued to many a book, turning each page to unveil its hidden secrets.new_sherlock_holmes_by_allegator-d4ll8lp

Our Heavenly Father is by far the greatest of mystery tellers.  His Holy Word, is the most prodigious collection of revealed mystery ever written.  From the open page, one reads of a God who creates the entire universe, and fills it with beauty and mystery. Gen 1:26  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. The questions begin: Who is “us”? What is His image? What is His likeness? A truly inquisitive person cannot just stop here. One must read on to find the answers, but new questions emerge. Who are we? Why are we placed here? Why are we cast out? What is sin? Why do I sin? Who is this serpent? Who is it that will crush the serpent’s head? Will we ever be able to return to that beautiful place called Eden?

However, before these and other questions can be answered, an extensive history lesson of just one race of people and their interaction with other races must be told. Before we can even begin to understand the mysteries and secrets that dominate our minds, we must come to grips with our condition, the universal human condition of sin. Before we can even comprehend such mysteries we must come to appreciate and fear or unequivocally respect our creator. We have to understand how great and devastating our sin is! How abhorrent sin is to Him, yet how much he loves us. Psa 25:14  The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

Through this special race of people will come the answers to all of our questions.  We will learn that even though they were separated to be a Holy nation, they sinned and were as corruptible as the nations around them.  We will see that throughout their history of corruption, there were always some who respected God and obeyed His commands.  We will learn that even some of these, could sin and commit terrible acts. Yet, God loved them, and when they obeyed, He protected. When they disobeyed, He punished. Heb 12:25  See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.  Most important of all, we learn that through these people will come one who will reveal the mysteries we long to know. He is the one who is hinted about and referred to over and over. Who is this messiah? Who is this Immanuel?

Sometimes it is hard for us, living 2000 years after the fact, to appreciate the mystery of  which Paul said in Col 1:26-27  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.  Quite often, people are told to accept Jesus as their savior (which is truth and most wondrous), without really knowing the story or why it is that they need such salvation.  It’s like receiving two free airline tickets to a far off destination, but why? Why is someone willing to give me $2000 tickets? What do they want? What is the gimmick? Now of course,  Christ is no gimmick. To the contrary, He is the greatest gift. But, it still begs the question, Why? Why was He willing to die on the cross for my sins? Why did he have to die and die in that manner? These are the mysteries that were revealed to Paul and the other apostles long ago. (Eph.3:5)

                In recent days, Malaysian  Airlines flight 370, has become, unfortunately, a profound mystery. Each day I find myself drawn to this story, anticipating new information that will reveal the secrets of where or how this plane with 239 people aboard disappeared. Understandably so, the families of those on board want answers to this most agonizing mystery. We all long to know what happened. Was it an accident? Was it a hijacking? Was it terrorists? Knowing how profound these mysteries are may help us to appreciate how liberating it was for the people of Paul’s day to have  the hidden secrets of God revealed. Eph 3:9-11  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  (10)  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  (11)  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

                Now, we might better understand a mystery that we take for granted, but was puzzling for those long ago, Who am I and why am I here? Eph 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

                For us living 20 centuries later, we comprehend and see that Christ’s salvation was and is intended for all men.  For the chosen race of people (the Jews), this was a hard thing to accept, yet, it was a profound revelation from our Heavenly Father, who created all men. Eph 3:6  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Also see Col.1:27; Rom.16:25-26

                What a momentous story! Mystery upon mystery comes to light through the gospel of our Lord and Savior, the Messiah, Immanuel!  God’s revealing to us, through this epic tale, who we are, where were from, why we’re here and where we’re going. I can’t begin to tell you all the mysteries and sub plots in this article or a million articles after it. You have to pick up the book of mysteries and read it for yourself. Start in Genesis and read the entire Old Testament. Write down the questions you have. Then turn to the New Testament and as you read, you’ll find that all the answers to your questions are revealed.  Don’t tell me how it ends! I want to find out for myself.

 

Darryl Fuller 

Gates of Heaven and Hell

In the 18th and 19th chapter of the book of Genesis, is a great synopsis of God’s holy message to us. It begins with the Lord’s pronouncement of “the plan” being executed, (the birth of Issac will take place within a year, 18:10). It ends with God’s judgment being executed, (the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah 19:24-25).

John_Martin_-_Sodom_and_Gomorrah

Within these two chapters is enough information for one to ascertain God’s love, mercy and hope for all mankind, as well as His omnipotent Judgment to destroy that which is wicked.    Ironically, the appearance of the Lord with the two angels (19:1) to announce the birth of the promised son is perhaps less than five miles from where the Lord was born in Bethlehem. Likewise, the destruction of the “cities of the Plain” in chapter 19, according to recent archaeological excavations at Tell Hammam, place it in near proximity to major Biblical events.  If the growing evidence of Tell Hammam is accurate, then the destruction of those cities of chapter 19 are just across the Jordan from another city destroyed by God’s army, Jericho. It would be the very place that the children of Israel would have passed as they crossed the Jordan into the promised land. Not far from this very place is where chariots of fire met Elijah and he was taken to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2). Also nearby is a place called Bethany across the Jordan. In John 1 is the account of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, who was the type of Elijah.

All these major, significant events that herald God’s plan to save man from his sins, taking place within a 20 mile radius, over hundreds of years, bear the mark of a supreme and loving God.

Consider the symbolism of such events:

  • The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven, Elijah taken to heaven with fire.
  •  Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed with the equivalence of lighting, Jericho destroyed with the equivalence of thunder (blast of the trumpets and shout of the people, Josh.6).
  • One family (Lot’s) spared in Sodom, one family (Rahab’s) spared in Jericho.
  • Two angels sent by the Lord to evaluate the city of Sodom, two spies sent by Joshua to spy on Jericho.
  • The spies were given safe haven in Rahab’s house, the angels were given safe haven in Lot’s house.
  • Both cities, never to be inhabited again.
  • Elijah crossing the Jordan to be immersed in fire, witnessed by Elisha. Jesus crossing the Jordan to be immersed in water, witnessed and performed by John the Baptist.
  • Elisha crosses back over the Jordan to preach to God’s children, Jesus crosses back over the Jordan to begin His earthly ministry.

 Within this 20 mile circle in the Jordan valley on both sides of the Jordan River, both the gates of hell and heaven were opened. Perhaps we will learn of the messages drawn out here and choose to cross the water(baptism) and enter the promised land. I fear many however are enjoying the “good times” in the cities on the plain.

Darryl Fuller

Look! Water!

There’s a whole lot of water on Earth! Something in the order of 326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons (326 million trillion gallons) roughly 1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 liters) can be found on our planet.878 This water is in a constant cycle — it evaporates from the ocean, travels through the air, rains down on the land and then flows back to the ocean. ­The oceans are huge. About 70 percent of the planet is covered in ocean, and the average depth of the ocean is several thousand feet (about 1,000 meters). Ninety-eight percent of the water on the planet is in the oceans. About 2 percent of the planet’s water is fresh, but 1.6 percent of the planet’s water is locked up in the polar ice caps and glaciers. Another 0.36 percent is found underground in aquifers and wells. Only about 0.036 percent of the planet’s total water supply is found in lakes and rivers. That’s still thousands of trillions of gallons, but it’s a very small amount compared to all the water available. The rest of the water on the planet is either floating in the air as clouds and water vapor, or is locked up in plants and animals (your body is 65 percent water, so if you weigh 100 pounds, 65 pounds of you is water!). There’s also all the soda pop, milk and orange juice you see at the store. There’s probably several billion gallons of water sitting on a shelf at any one time!

God’s word is of course a great testimony of this, by showing from the very beginning, its creation and role in the lives of His people. The word water is mentioned 466 times in scripture, the word “blood” is only mentioned 425 times (ASV). This doesn’t even account for all the mentions of lakes and rivers, seas and oceans, branches and wades, wells and cisterns, jars and goatskins all which carry or hold water. About the only place you won’t find water is in the desert or dry places as the bible sometimes mentions. One only needs to look at a satellite image of the Middle East to see that water is very scarce and precious in this area.

Look at the text in Acts 8:35-38  Then Philip began to speak, and, starting from this Scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus.   As they were going along the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, there’s some water. What keeps me from being baptized?”    So he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

I think it’s paramount to observe here the eunuch’s excitement for the water that he sees. It’s no small thing that God informs us in Acts 8:26 (Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.), that this is in a dry area – NO WATER.  The eunuch is genuinely excited that God has revealed to him through Phillip three key things. First, through the blood of Jesus Christ, he may have God’s saving Grace. Second, that in order to receive this grace, he needs to be baptized into Christ through water, but where in the desert will we find water. Thus the third thing God provides is water, water where you would least expect it, in the desert! These are the basic essentials to our salvation. It’s so very simple, yet the world (religious and non-religious) make it so difficult. Most of our religious friends and neighbors stumble not at the free gift (grace), or the price paid (Jesus blood), but  that one must be baptized in order to be saved. Their argument is that God would not require an act that requires one to find the means to accomplish this act, thus the sinners prayer and a believing heart is all that is needed. This doesn’t hold if we would just look around and see that God put water everywhere! He even provides it in a dry and dusty land, when one wishes to drink of everlasting life.

Darryl Fuller

The Ugly Truth

All of God’s word is truth of course, but the beginning of the New Testament is brazenly so. Matthew’s account begins with the lineage of the Savior. This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Mt.1:1 What follows is a list of Jesus’ ancestry, a list of liars, murderers, adulterers, thieves, prostitutes, etc. Judah the father of Perez and Zerah (by Tamar) v.3 – INCEST , Salmon the father of Boaz (by Rahab) v.4, – PROSTITUTE, David was the father of Solomon (by the wife of Uriah 3 ) v.6. – MURDERER, ADULTERER,  all that in just the first 6 verses.

Now, if I’m going to tell you the history of a famous person, I’d probably not start out this way. Matter of fact, I wouldn’t  include really bad ancestry at all. Even in ancient accounts of history detailing the accounts of heroic countrymen, written by the likes of Herodotus, Livy, Tacitus and Josephus, don’t tell us the full truth of who they are and where they come from. On the contrary, men tend to elaborate or glorify the  subject of their discourse, and even take great leaps in making their subjects’ ancestry one of mythical gods.    I look back into the history of my father’s and mother’s families and I find no mention or any evidence that point to such above mentioned, bad characters. Maybe my father’s ancestry back to the Castellaws of Edinburgh, Scotland, were all great, noble, honorable, clean-as-the-driven-snow people, but I doubt it. The truth is very hard to swallow sometimes, and thus we don’t like to talk about it. Our past is a reminder of who we are. On my mother’s side of the family our ancestry comes from Hungary and the Slavic nations. History tells us that the word slave is derived from the word Slavic due to the fact that the Slavic people were enslaved at one time- not a bright moment in the family tree!

What is God doing, giving us such a tepid list of Jesus’ family tree? Why start out this way, and be so blunt about it in the first six verses? He even makes it abundantly clear, “by Tamar, by Rahab, by the wife of Uriah.”  Couldn’t you have spared us this information until the end? Like maybe, “Go into the world and preach the gospel, and oh, by the way, Jesus’ family tree is full of bad people” df.  But, you see, God doesn’t work the way we think.  God deals in the realm of TRUTH. We like to think we’re truthful, but a lot of times, we’re covering up something, something we don’t want anyone to know about. That something is sin, and we’re all guilty of it, all of us.  If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin,we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous,  forgiving  us our sins and cleansing  us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10.  We don’t confess our wrongs like we should, nor do we care to discuss them publicly like God does.

In the Gospel of John, truth is an often repeated topic  “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32. John emphasizes that these things were written that you might believe. How much better is that?! God wants me to believe in Him, and because He desires that so much, He tells me the truth, no matter how hard it is to take. There have been many over the ages that have walked away from the Bible because it tells the truth. They walk away and scoff at it, because they don’t deal in truth. God is truth, and He has made it possible for us to be truthful as well.  Notice the end of the first section of Matthew 1 says, Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. v.16.  At the end of this ancestry is the Savior of it all. What an unbelievable way to begin the Good News. We’re all bad, but we can all be saved. God’s truth may be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s a pill that will save us of our illness, if we’re willing to take it with a full glass of water.

 

Religious in all Respects

Somewhere back in time, around 2800 BC, a tribe of people living in south central England built a great temple we call Stonehenge. There is no real confirmation as to who these people were, some believe them to be Iberians, some say they were Druids. 20090802-stonehenge1Whoever they were, evidence suggest that they used this  sight  as a temple for worship, and a final resting place to bury their dead. For hundreds of years, these ancient people gathered at these stone trilithons and worshipped the sun and moon and stars. The precision of the edifice is demonstrated by the fact of its amazing and accurate alignment to the heavenly host. Evidence would also suggest that they gathered to worship at important times during the year such as New Year (winter solstice), planting time (vernal equinox), mid-summers night (summer solstice), and harvest time (autumnal equinox). They gathered to worship a god they did not know, but they understood that something or someone was responsible for life and death. They could tell that the celestial objects were there for a purpose, a sign that provided them with knowledge on seed times and harvest.

The apostle Paul addressed a similar group of people, who had a lot of knowledge, but didn’t understand the unknown god. In Acts 17 Paul stood before another great temple made with men’s hands and proclaimed v.22 “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious  in all respects.For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship,I even found an altar with this inscription:‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it,this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it,who isLord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands,nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything,because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone.” The truth of the matter as Paul eloquently put it is that all men are seeking something, something bigger and beyond their grasp of understanding. Rom.1:19-20 because what can be known about God is plain to them,because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people  are without excuse. Most men know that there is a God and most make some attempt in reverence to this unknown God. Paul acknowledged this from the start when he declared that they seem to be religious people. The greek word for religious is “deisidaimonia”, and it can mean superstitious or pious. When we look around the world we see these very same people today. Even within our own community are those who have the desire to worship God, but in truth their worship is to a God they don’t know. Now we see Paul’s great respect and admiration for these people of Athens ( even though he was abhorred with their idolatry), by “proclaiming the truth to them.” Paul was given a great gift as he tells us in  Ephesian 1:7-9 In him  we have redemption through his blood,the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace  that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He did this when he revealed  to us the secret  of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forthin Christ,. With this great revelation of knowledge bestowed upon Paul, he likewise revealed it to others. There are many around us who wish to feel spiritual but are misguided and lack knowledge. It is our duty to reach out to religious individuals, who seek God, and with love in our hearts, proclaim to them the glorious truth.

 

Darryl Fuller