Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Among them that despise and vilify reason, you may always expect to find those enthusiasts who suppose the dreams of their own imagination to be revelations from God. We cannot expect that men of this turn will pay much regard to reason. Having an infallible guide, they are very little moved by the reasonings of fallible men. 
John Wesley

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Q: Who was the only man in the Bible who did not have a father?
A: Joshua the son of Nun.

Q: In what part of the Bible is baseball mentioned?
A: In the big-inning...

Q: Who is the fastest runner in history?
A: Adam, because he was first in the human race.

Q: Where is the first tennis match mentioned in the Bible?
A: When Joseph served in Pharaoh's court.

Q: Who was the best actor in the bible?
A: Samson, he brought the house down.

Q: What kind of man was Boaz before he got married?
A: Ruth-less.

Q: What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
A: Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.

Q: Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
A: Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pentecostalism - part 3

I know I'm stepping on many toes by saying this but ...

... just because there are many anecdotal stories from developing countries of visions being seen and miracles taking place, doesn't mean they're true — the plural of anecdote is not evidence.

For example, someone who claims to have had an encounter with an alien may tell a vivid story, but this doesn't mean the encounter actually happened. Vivid, emotionally-charged anecdotes just seem more plausible, so they are given greater weight. This can also happen to large groups of people through what is called subjective validation.

Can't we trust our own senses, then?  Shouldn't we make them our final source of truth? Of course we shouldn't! We must test everything we hear or see against what Scripture says, just as the noble Bereans did in Acts 17:9-11. But sadly, many people make Scripture say what they want it to say — by pulling verses and passages from here and there or spiritualizing things meant to be taken literally — so that they can directly apply things to us today that shouldn't be. All these errors can be rectified by simply observing progressive revelation literally Scripture says what it means and means what it says.

The "signs and wonders" under our Lord's earthly ministry and at Pentecost* were signs — of the Messiahship of Christ to Israel (Is 35:4-6; Matt 11:2-5; Joel 2:28-32). When, despite these signs, the nation rejected Him, they ceased.

Some, however, have wrongly concluded that toward the close of this present age we are to expect a revival of these manifestations, but this isn't true.

Paul didn't say in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge would be done away UNTIL the closing days of this age.  He simply said that they were to be done away (i.e., in this age), and that "faith, hope and love" would "abide."  In fact, Scripture doesn't give even a hint of the manifestation of the sign gifts after the close of the Book of Acts period. Nor is there any indication at all in the Pauline epistles that the Pentecostal signs are to be restored at the close of this age.

Paul does say, however, that AFTER the close of this age of grace, the "lawless one is by the activity of Satan" will appear "with all power and false signs and wonders" (2 Thes 2:9).  Paul confirms what our Lord says in Matthew 24:24 about the same period of time:

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

During the tribulation period, then, AFTER the members of the Body of Christ have been "caught up" to be with the Lord (1 Thes 4:16-18), the ministers of Satan, from Antichrist down, will come "with all power and false signs and wonders," to deceive, if possible, "even the elect."

Then in the very same passage about Antichrist and his "power and false signs and wonders," Paul warns that "...the mystery of lawlessness is already at work..." (2 Thes 2:1-17).

So what does this say about all the miraculous manifestations we hear so much about these days: tongues, healings, prophecies, visions, witchcraft, spiritism, etc., not to mention false doctrine?  It sure seems to me that these things are not of God, but of Satan.

And yet to some, wondrous manifestations are the end of any argument.  So-and-so must be of God or he/she couldn't work these miracles, right?  But Scripture tell us differently.  A careful study of the latest of Paul's epistles give us the normal course of the Church during this age.  It is Satan's aim is to deceive men and draw them away from the truth of God's glorious purpose and grace.

Paul gives a stern warning regarding this very thing in 1 Timothy 4:1:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.

This is why he tells us to:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (Eph 6:10-13).

Let me ask you then, is it the Spirit of God or Satan, who attempts to revive the sign gifts that were divinely retired after having fulfilled their purposes?  Satan is not a creepy-looking creature with horns, hooves, a tail and a pitchfork.  Paul warns us that he will operate through "...false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ."  He goes on further to say:

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds (2 Cor 11:13-15).

So don't fall for it!  The amazing stories we keep hearing only beguile us to take our eyes off Him, and cause us to walk by sight, rather than by faith.  Instead ...

... let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith ... (Heb 12:1-3)

*Note, too, that Pentecost was only a partial fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Acts 2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32). There was no blood, nor fire, nor columns of smoke; the sun didn't turn into darkness, nor did the moon turn to blood. Interestingly, the dreams and visions were also lacking.  But all these things will be fulfilled in the future — when Israel's last days resume (Rom 11).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sing to Jesus

Our church choir sang this song during our Sunday morning traditional services several weeks ago.  We sang it at a slightly quicker tempo than what you'll hear if you click on the link below.  Such a beautiful song, though, with equally beautiful words!  Wouldn't you agree?

Come and see, look on this mystery
The Lord of the Universe, nailed to a tree
Christ our God, spilling His Holy blood
Bowing in anguish, His sacred head

Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts.
He is our great Redeemer.
Sing to Jesus, Honor His name.
Sing of His faithfulness, pouring His life out unto death

Come you weary and He will give you rest
Come you who mourn, lay on His breast
Christ who died, risen in Paradise
Giver of mercy, Giver of Life

Sing to Jesus His is the throne
Now and forever,
He is the King of Heaven.
Sing to Jesus, we are His own.
Now and forever sing for the love our God has shown.

Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts.
He is our great Redeemer.
Sing to Jesus, Honor His name.
Sing to Jesus His is the throne
Now and forever,
He is the King of Heaven.
Sing to Jesus, we are His own.
Now and forever sing for the love our God has shown.

Allelulia, Allelulia, Allelulia.


(words and music by Fernando Ortega and Rich Nibbe, arranged and orchestrated by Robert Sterling)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Strange conclusions

Recently I came across an interesting post regarding progressive revelation:


This author recognizes the need to observe progressive revelation when studying the Book of Acts; however, he has decided on the front end that the earthly kingdom will never be restored to the nation Israel — which has caused him to come to some rather strange conclusions. For example, he says this:

“Many statements and events recorded in early Acts betray a lack of understanding of what God would ultimately reveal as the gospel in its fullness. Starting with the apostles’ question to Christ in Acts 1:6: Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? we see a sequence of immature persuasion on display. The Lord might have answered immediately: "Don’t you remember what I said in the parable of the vineyard laborers? The kingdom will NEVER be restored to Israel" but that is not what he did.  He left the weeding out of false beliefs to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit that would finally result in a full understanding of the truth of the gospel.

and this:

"The Lord did not see fit to correct this immature understanding even in Acts 8.  The Holy Spirit waited until after the application of water baptism before he came upon any of the converts in Pentecostal powers."

So he's saying that our Lord basically misled people until the full revelation was given??? 

Let me offer another option.  I propose that He didn’t correct the people's understanding in both instances because what they believed was true at the time — the earthly kingdom was still at hand, and it was still faith plus works — because Israel hadn't yet been put aside in unbelief. In fact, the kingdom was offered in Acts 3:17-26, and, baptism was still a required proof of faith at that time (see Acts 2:38), just as it had been during Christ's earthly ministry (see Matt 3:6 and Mk 1:4; 16:16). 

Furthermore, although the author of this post points out that even in Acts 8 the Holy Spirit waited until after believers were baptized before He came upon them, he doesn't mention that in this particular instance He also waited until after Peter and John had laid hands upon them.  But Scripture explains this for us as well.

In Acts 8:14-17 we are told, "Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit."  So why didn't these Samaritans, who had believed and been baptized, receive the Holy Spirit as according to Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38?  The reason can be found in the relationship between the Jews and Samaritans.

According to Ezekiel 37:15-19, the division between Samaria and Jerusalem must be healed before Christ can reign.  Israel and Judah — the ten tribes and the two — must be reunited for Christ is to reign over all twelve tribes.  The apostles recognized this because our Lord had promised them twelve thrones in the kingdom (Matt 19:28).  But it wasn't enough that the two be brought together.  The ten tribes were the ones which had apostatized and had made Samaria their capital city and had set up their own temple at Mt. Gerizim.  They had to renounce all this and recognize Jerusalem as the seat of authority because it is there that Christ and the twelve will reign. 

This fact was impressed upon the Samaritan believers, because although they had believed and been baptized, they didn't receive the Holy Spirit until two apostles had come from Jerusalem and had prayed for them and laid their hands upon them. 

Two apostles were enough for this according to Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; and 2 Corinthians 13:1, and Peter and John, with Philip, made three witnesses.  In fact, our Lord had specified that any two of the apostles could act officially for Him in His absence in Matthew 18:18-20.

So the believers at Samaria recognized the authority of the twelve at Jerusalem and, had the kingdom been accepted, would have become one nation with the Jews.  As it is, though, the restoration of the United Kingdom of Israel under Messiah awaits a future day.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Arne and Dayna

I've written about Dayna in the past; Arne is her younger brother.  Here they've collaborated together to play “Despedida,” the 4th movement of Ney Rosauro’s Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra.  Arne is on the marimba and Dayna, of course, is on the violin.  Aren't they great?!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Live healthy and live longer

An 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, had died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years mainly due to her interest in health food and exercise.

When they reached heaven, St. Peter took them to their mansion which was all decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi. As they "oohed and aahed" the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.

"It's free," Peter replied, "this is Heaven."

Next they went out back to survey the large, beautiful garden that the home backed up to. They could walk in it everyday and each week the garden changed to a new one representing the most beautiful gardens on earth.

The old man asked, "what are the fees to get in?".

Peter's reply, "This is heaven, you may walk in it any time for free."

Next they went to a cozy shelter within the garden and saw a lavish buffet lunch with the cuisine's of the world laid out.

"How much to eat?" asked the old man.

"Don't you understand yet? This is heaven, it's free!" Peter replied with some exasperation.

"Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly.

Peter lectured, "That's the best part.  You can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven."

The old man looked at his wife sternly and said, "This is all your fault! If it weren't for your dumb bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!"