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The Four Portraits of Christ

It has been said that most seminaries {pronounced cemetery} is a like a dark alley into which many good young men have been led and quietly had their faith strangled to death. One of the ways this is done is by educating them out of believing the old King James Bible. Those who’ve been ‘educated’ are easy enough to spot – they’ll invariably speak in favor of and justify embracing things God is against. They’ll contradict the Bible. One such example is found in allusions to the so-called “synoptic gospels”. This popular ‘cemetery’ teaching holds that Matthew Mark and Luke are all in agreement and seem to complement each other; but that John is an anomaly filled with questionable and impossible events. However, these four glorious mountains provide us, just as God intended, with four very different portraits of our Lord. In Ezekiel chapter 1 we read of the four living creatures each of which has four faces [verse 10] The face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox and the face of an eagle. The parallels are uncanny at best and at the very least depict four allegories of the gospels. These four creatures are unwavering in purpose (like the four gospels). They are joined and move together (like the gospels). They are very interesting and majestic in their parallels of the four Gospels. Consider, Matthew – the transition book from the Old Testament to the New Testament – presenting the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people. Known as the “King Book” of the “Lion of Judah” [Rev 5:5]. Matthew presents us with Jesus Christ the King more than any other book and the scripture themselves name the lion as the king of beasts. Then notice that the gospel of Mark provides no blood line, no lineage, he just dives right in and shows us the Saviour-servanthood and humility and lowliness of Jesus Christ in his incessant laboring in the harvest fields of God, like an ox, working and working and working. Then notice how the gospel of Luke presents us with our Lord Jesus Christ the son of ‘man’. Luke’s portrait of the ‘son of man’ shows us Jesus Christ the man like no other book. Then of course consider how John shows us Jesus Christ the ‘son of God’ in a majestic depiction of his deity. This is the God man, soaring high and lifted up like an eagle above all. These four creatures are also found standing before the throne in the Revelation of Jesus Christ where in chapter 4 they give praise and glory to Him who sits on the throne! No friends there are not 3 gospels in agreement and one questionable gospel record any more than those four creatures of Ezekiel are questionable, NO! All four creatures agree together, move together, work together and are connected. The FOUR portraits of the Lamb of God (The Gospels) are joined in perfection and tell all who have ears to hear “Trust the Bible”.

Too Close to Escape

Back many years ago I was a bit of a prankster. One night while out on patrol with my K-9 “Sampson” {a large and particularly aggressive Rottweiler} I happened to see two men fishing with lanterns and gigs. It was late at night, a perfect time for a good prank. So I parked, snuck to an advantageous spot and hid in some high bulrushes along the water’s edge to wait for them too wander to close. Between their talking, the water and lantern noise they couldn’t hear or see me. When they got within 20 feet I hissed at my dog – a que we’d rehearsed many times. Sampson immediately launched into his snapping snarling barking rage with his huge teeth gleaming in the moonlight. The noise was deafening and horrifying. I let him jump to the end of the 6 ft leash while I yelled “HALT POLICE”. He was like a furry black nightmare. The reaction was priceless! The men were screaming like school girls while climbing each other to escape “the monster” they later said they’d thought was a huge ‘gator’. The next morning I was sore from laughing! They had been caught totally unprepared and the “monster” was upon them before they knew it was there.
The Bible says that is how it will be for many people when Jesus comes at the “Rapture”; only it won’t be a prank and there won’t be any laughing. 1st Thessalonians 5:3 says in the “day of the Lord” they’ll think everything is peaceful and safe until all of a sudden, like a thief in the night, it will flash upon them like “sudden destruction” because they were UNAWARE, UNPREPARED “and they shall not escape”. The Bible says God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked [Ezekiel 33:11] nor is He willing that “ANY” should perish but that “ALL” should come to repentance. 2nd Peter 3:9 says the choice to receive God’s only begotten Son the Lord Jesus Christ is entirely up to each man and woman [John 1:12]. Everyone [Acts 17:30] has the power to accept, repent, believe and receive OR to ignore, reject, deny and face God’s wrath [John 3:36] when they die [Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 20:11-15].
As a Pastor I meet men & women regularly who are so focused on unimportant things that they are totally oblivious to what is going on around them. God is calling and sending them warnings but they don’t see, don’t hear, don’t know and before they know it – it is upon them. {Unfortunately some have heard, and heard, and heard God’s call and they’ve ignored it so many times He’s stopped calling. According to the Bible THERE WILL BE NO ESCAPE! I fear some reading this article are not even aware of just how close they are to the horrible wrath of God.

Things I’ve Committed to God’s Keeping

In 2nd Timothy the Apostle Paul said that ‘he knew whom he had believed {Our Lord Jesus Christ} and that he was persuaded that He was able to keep that which he had committed unto His trust against that day’. That is a great statement!
Great trials, deep troubles, intimidating situations, physical sufferings, family problems, marriage problems; certainly there is no end of things which can be deeply troubling. Paul lets us in on a great comfort in this scripture. He says he’s learned to trust that God is quite able to keep the things committed to His trust.

With that in mind let me give you 5 things I have committed to God’s trust: 1 My Soul: {John 3:16, Romans 10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:20} 46 years ago I came under conviction, repented of myself & my sin and God adopted me. I’ve trusted my soul to his keeping. 2 My Marriage: My wife and I have committed our marriage to God’s keeping. We trust and obey the bible directions for Christian men & women in marriage (which by the way has no guidance for relationships outside the Scriptures). Marriage is hard but with Christ at its center it gets sweeter and sweeter. 3 My Children. They’re grown now and despite my many failings they’re saved and trusting Christ. Having now done all I can to present them to the Lord and Him to them, all I can do is commit them unto His keeping. 4 My Friendships & My Enemies: Everyone needs friends, real sincere, true friends are hard enough to come by but one thing I’ve learned is that my Christian friends point me to the Lord while my worldly friends inevitably point me to the carnal and base things. So I have trusted my God to bring me the friends He wants in my life. On the same note: The devil has brought me enemies often enough but I am thankful that God exposes them for what they are when I commit both friends and enemies to His keeping. How do you spot an enemy? When they are against Christian things like church and they pretend to love God while condemning things God is for you can be sure – that’s an enemy of the cross. These I have turned over to God’s keeping and I have seen many times the dreadful result of God’s dealing with them on my behalf. 5 My Finances: I’ve trust my God to put in my hand what He deems right. I’ve met many ‘rented’ professing Christians. Those who, as long as the church pays their bills on occasion, they’ll attend (not faithfully mind you). But as soon as they church cuts off the handouts – they won’t be back.
Praise God for those who, if they never get anything else from God, they’re thankful for His unspeakable gift of Salvation and they’re faithful to His church and His bible.

Repairing the Walls and Rebuilding the Gates

What with all the social misfits walking into churches and shooting innocent people in recent years, many churches have wisely opted to arm, train and prepare, as much as possible, in order to combat the possibility of such an event. As both a US Military veteran and a veteran police officer I openly commend and applaud anyone who takes seriously proactive precautions to defend themselves. I believe schools, day care centers, Churches and such places should, out of decency, be ‘off the table’ for targets even for a depraved madman.

Unfortunately events of late have demonstrated with stark reality that churches, schools, malls, concerts, theaters – nothing is safe. No big surprise there in light of Supreme Court rulings concerning prayer, schools, abortion and such. One societal degradation after another. One social, moral and spiritual defilement seems only to lay a foundation for the next and for most of us it seems the America we grew up in is under attack. As if some charlatan were trying to replace it with one where patriotism, decency, moral sensibility, backbone and courage are extinct. In months past I have spoken with a few who questioned churches preparing to defend those inside [which coincidentally includes infants, children, women, the elderly]. To such I say “we’ve put in smoke detectors, fire alarms and emergency exits to prepare for potential hazards. A systematic approach to preparedness, defense and training are much the same”. We’ve insured our vehicles in case of wrecks, our buildings in case of flood or storms – just in case something terrible happens. Shall we prepare for a storm outside and not for one inside?

As the minister of God, pastor of the church and one familiar with taking up arms under the flag of our country; I applaud those who arm themselves and train to respond to such as would harm a child, an elderly one…or other defenseless one, be it in a church, a school, or a grocery store. Our country has ever met tyranny with arms. In the Bible, cities had walls, gates and heavy doors, armed defenders, armed patrols…all ordained of God. King David, a type of Christ, went about with a sword which he used frequently. In fact the Lord Jesus Christ himself said in Luke 22:36 reads “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one”. Why? Because sometimes wicked people try to do wickedness upon those who cannot stop them.
My own view is that I had rather see a church defend its defenseless ones and suffer the criticisms of men than to refuse to do so and live with the resultant horrors and inconsolable conscience thereafter. Like farmers preparing a field for planting and yet trusting God for the harvest, or fisherman lowering their nets for a catch, but trusting the catch to God – so too must we all prepare the horse for the battle but trust the outcome thereof to our Great King.

Cremation or Burial…What Does the Bible Say?

Because of the financially trying times we live in I have had quite a few people ask me about Cremation vs Burial. What does the Bible say? What should I do? Is there any guidance in the scripture on this subject? I am always reluctant to answer, but only out of a desire not to hurt someone who has already made this mistake. The Bible gives some very clear and plain guidance on how to “put away our dead”. The average Cremation with a family gathering and urn runs around $1200 or less while a burial will cost between $7000 and $10,000 depending upon particulars.

However, despite the exorbitant cost of a simple funeral, Cremation is not a Christian practice. For starters in the Old Testament we find many verses where the dead were ‘buried’. God commanded the dead to be buried. In Deuteronomy 21 for example, God himself ‘buried’ Moses. I think for me personally that makes clear enough the example God gave us. God punished Moab for “cremating” the king of Edom. In Joshua 7:25, 2 Samuel 23:7 and 2nd Kings 23:7 God’s people burned the dead to show contempt. In the New Testament our Lord Jesus Christ was buried, not burned – another overwhelming example. Burial after death depicts a very important spiritual truth – until one has been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) they cannot be ‘dead to self’ and follow that ‘death to self’ in the spiritual burial of baptism. Not only this but at physical death – the deceased is either destined for heaven or for ‘burning in hell’ depending upon what they’ve chosen to do with Jesus. Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” and Colossians 2:12 says, “Buried with Him in baptism”. Burial is a part of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Read and notice verse 4 “And that He was buried, and that He arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures”. We find then of course the phrase often repeated “buried with his fathers” in scripture.
When I am asked for advice concerning what the Bible says on this matter, my advice is to follow God’s example and bury your dead. What if it is too late and you have already had a loved one Cremated? That is of no difficulty with God. He can transform ashes and dust into a glorified body. The same is true for those consumed by wild animals. God will raise all the bodies of His children, no matter what their manner of death or disposal and will fashion them, “like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” Philippians 3:21
Cremation should not be practiced by Christians. I urge you to pray & obey the Bible!

Some of Those Daily Benefits of Salvation!

As the new Christian studies the word of God they are inevitably drawn to the various topics that accompany their “salvation” {Notice that I did NOT say that accompanies their ‘water’ baptism} but their ‘salvation’ [their new birth, their new man, their new creature in Christ]. *Note that to study aright and understand as an adult; you have realized the monumental difference between the spiritual baptism by Grace through Faith in the blood of the Lamb of God which is figuratively depicted by the outward testimony (in other words by the water baptism). That outward demonstration of the inward event is not the event itself but as the Holy Ghost said “the like figure” of that inward baptism.

This saving faith is accompanied by tremendous blessings and benefits: Paul spoke much on these blessings in his letters (Epistles). For example in Romans he taught that JUSTFICATION has two elements ONE OF WHICH IS The Forgiveness of sin which includes the REMOVAL of the guilt & of the punishment of sin. SECOND IS THE Imputation of the Righteousness of His Lamb, His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and the RESTORATION of God’s favor. [See Psalm 32:2, Rom 3:24 and Gal 2:16]. These “rewards” as Paul called them in Romans 4:4 also benefit us in that ‘Our Iniquities Are Forgiven! Our Sins are Covered and Our Father no longer imputes our sins to us but rather, He imputes the righteousness of Christ to us! Glory!

As David, a type of Christ, said “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” Romans 4:8. This “imputation of righteousness” then we find is a benefit of being “justified by faith” and includes our having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). How exciting it is for not only the new Christian as they find and learn these sweet comforts in the Bible – but also for those of us who have been ‘standing on the promises of God’ these many years hence. How tearful is it to learn and come to the understanding that we all, before we trusted Christ (not the baptismal pool) were the enemies of Almighty God – and that it took the death of God’s own and only begotten Son (paying our condemnation) to reconcile that insurmountable debt! But oh what rejoicing and redemption is to be found in the resurrected life His Son provides us by His own resurrection [See Romans 5:10].

The Christian then, who has finally looked with new eyes at the old book, has begun to spiritually see old truths. Thus when you ask them “when did you get saved” they don’t try to remember when they got dunked in water; they go in their mind to that moment God imputed life changing righteousness to them by grace through faith!

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

One of the only places where the Christian is plainly and directly told to “study the word” is now and has always been under attack. It is a huge and vitally important direction to study the bible and it’s found in 2nd Timothy 2:15 {Consequently I am sure many of you won’t find it at all surprising that men & devils, modern ‘versions’, textual criticism and so-called scholars have done their best to omit it, delete it, pervert it, mishandle it, distort it or reword it ad nausea}

Let’s see what it actually says in ‘the real bible’ – by which I mean of course the AV 1611 – “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. WOW!! What a mountain of doctrine and guidance for the Christian life! It’s no wonder that so many have tried for hundreds of years to distort this verse; for of a certainty if more people (including preachers) would “study the word” many fake churches & ‘denominations’ would soon go out of business.
By the way ‘rightly dividing the word’ and getting your doctrine straightened out has never wrongly divided the brethren [2nd Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15; 1st Timothy 1:3, 4:1, 2nd Timothy 4:2-4]. Next notice that the verse says by studying you can meet God’s approval – which means that by failure to study and ‘rightly divide’ or understand the word of God you can incur God’s disapproval! The obvious fact being there stated is that someone who fails to study inevitably fails to understand, comprehend, apply and live out “sound doctrine” in their lives and as such they fail to demonstrate to those around them that ‘form of doctrine which was delivered unto’ them [Romans 6:17].

Now we know that as the night draws near in these last days that fewer and fewer are actually studying and I know some of you, like me, are dumbfounded how someone can claim to be a Christian and yet seem uninterested in ‘shewing themselves approved unto God’.
Note also that the goal for the Christian is to be a ‘workman’ for the Lord. A workman in the lives they touch. A worker of the Lord in the life of their spouse, their children and their circle of friends.

Also notice that failing to study in order to ‘rightly divide the word’ leads inescapably to being ashamed before God. I don’t know about you but I already have enough things to be ashamed of and have no desire to add to this long list. Charles H Spurgeon (who was called the prince of preachers) said some great things with which I agree heartily {apart from his notorious blundering on the subject of Calvinism and the so-called ‘doctrines of grace’} in effort to encourage young preachers to study, once said ‘God already has enough biblically ignorant men and women making fools of themselves’; he doesn’t need you to join their ranks.

As for me I already have much to be ashamed of so I do not wish to add biblical ignorance and failure to rightly divide the word to the list. What a fool is that man or woman who knows more about fishing, building, farming or games and movies but almost nothing when it comes to the scriptures.

Man What a Deal

Matthew 27:15-26 tells us about a terrible ‘trade off’. I doubt anyone reading this article could deny that at some point they’ve been involved in a ‘trade deal’. You know, where you trade one thing to get something else. And too I’d venture that anyone who has done a ‘trade deal’, has as they say “gotten the short end of the stick”. Those among you who by God’s grace and mercy have spent time in the scriptures are familiar with Barabbas (by all accounts a murderer, criminal, riotous and loathsome character) but if not I urge you to read Luke chapter 23 and John chapter 18 before going further. What a great deal huh? The shouting crowd Satan had fanned to flame are actually demanding a wretched, lying cut-throat mongrel named Barabbas in exchange for the Precious Son of the Living God! It’s beyond comprehension. What a deal Satan conned them into making.
But can I tell you “Barabbas comes in many forms today” and people everywhere are calling for Christ to be murdered and kept out of their lives and for Barabbas to be released into it instead. I know a young couple who have three precious small children. They know the children are watching and learning from the decisions of the parents. Nonetheless they refuse to be in church choosing instead to watch television and go fishing etc. In effect they choose their Barabbas and cast out Christ from their life. They may as well teach their kids to shout “Away with this Christ…give us Barabbas instead”! You’ve probably seen many a young man or woman who foolishly traded their purity & chastity FOR defilement & shame.

What a terrible scene to imagine – the angry faces, the whispering Pharisees, the seditious plotting, the shouting of the mob – demanding that Pilot crucify Jesus! I can imagine Pilot standing there with dismay and shock on his face. Think about it…how far has a people sunk when a lost Roman “prefect” or Governor [who has been the cruel instrument of Herod in the region] is the only voice of sanity among them?! What vile whispering has Satan worked in the hearts of people both then and now that they would gladly trade off whatever decency and blessing they must in order to have their sin at any cost?

NO! Are there none left who will shout “Give us Christ”! A long time ago my Father chose to give me the power to choose to believe {John 1:11-12} and I too made the choice to become one of the sons of God! I urge you – don’t trade your real Bible for a counterfeit, don’t trade church for drama team, dance and band, don’t trade the Son of the Living God for some Barabbas of your own choosing. Some should paint on the side of their bass boat “SS Barabbas”. Some should change their horse’s name to Barabbas. Some should write across their television screen “Barabbas”. Oh I urge you Christian…today is a new day – choose carefully whom you will turn loose in your life.

When You’ve Been Pushed Too Far

That amazing record of the world that God gave us [The Bible] tells us the incredible story of a great strong-man named Sampson {Judges 14-16}. This fella was like a real life superhero who could have easily picked up and carried a full size car up a hill. He had often used his great strength to whip up on the enemies of God. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have the brains to match his strength and before you finish reading the story of Sampson & Delilah you kind of wonder if the poor guy was ‘right in the head’.

Sampson liked those cheap looking Jezebel type women *(you know the ones, clothes too revealing, too tight, too much war paint on their face and eyes). He met one named Delilah and fell for her. His enemies saw this weakness and used it against him. They bribed Delilah with a lot of cash to find out why Sampson was so super-strong and how they could whip him. So she immediately began pressing Sampson for the secret of his strength and the Bible says she literally nagged the guy to death [Judges 16:16].
She pestered Sampson day and night without end to tell her his secret. Time and again he lied to her and time and again she sprung traps on him. As you read the story in Judges Ch 16 you find that Delilah troubled Sampson 1. Morally 2. Psychologically 3. Physically 4. Emotionally and 5.. Spiritually. In the end Sampson just buckled under the pressure and told her what the secret of his great strength was.
The famous Paul Harvey used to finish his great radio program by telling “…the rest of the story”; but in this case the ‘rest of the story is dreadful and it ends badly’. Sampson is captured with his head in Delilah’s lap. He is tormented, tortured, imprisoned and the subject of mockery. That’s just exactly Satan’s plan for lost people…torture, pain, suffering, betrayal and spiritual destruction.
However in the life of the Christian, Satan’s plan is demonstrated here in Sampson’s life with spiritual ruin. There are multiple reasons, I think, why Sampson told Delilah his secret, but one of the reasons is that she wore him down with her constant nagging and attacking. Satan uses this same strategy sometimes. He hits you on multiple fronts in rapid succession. He doesn’t give you time to recover from one blow before he hits with you another. Sound familiar? Like someone was plotting against and setting traps for you? The devil does that to people as well…he pushes you, tempts you, pressures you and attacks you; sometimes physically, sometimes morally, sometimes psychologically…
through family, spouse, friends, co-workers. He is ever trying to break you and push you over the edge and away from God. Ultimately Satan’s goal is to lead a Christian into Spiritual ruin and mockery.
If I could have spoken to Sampson before his death there is much I would say, but part of it would be “It doesn’t have to end this way! Come back to God!”

The Danger of the Plastic Baby Jesus in the Yard

 

All over the world and especially all over America this week there are little manger scenes on display in Cities and Towns and court squares and front yards. Some are wooden, some are plastic, some even have lights and you plug them in and they light up. Some even have live animals and actors to play the part. To be frank I like them all and I find it rewarding that so many people still have the backbone to display a manger scene no matter who whines about it. Unfortunately however after the “Christmas season” is over the lighted manger scene will be unplugged and boxed back up along with the donkey, the lamb, the wise men and plastic Joseph and Mary. They’ll all be put back in the basement or attic (many will store them right beside the plastic Santa) to be forgotten for another year. Many untold millions love Christmas, and with good reason I might add – it is after all the day we’ve dedicated to a celebration of God’s own Son stepping out of heaven and into a human body that he might redeem man from the curse & penalty of sin. I understand the premise behind the plastic manger scenes. But there is a “danger in the manger scene” and it is this: The Lord Jesus hasn’t been ‘away in a manger’ for over 2000 years! Now he has a crown on His head and He doesn’t sleep! Sadly many know only that plastic plug in Jesus. The one who makes no demands and has nothing to say. He just lays there in the fake manger being adored by his plastic parents, wise men and animals. That’s sadly just exactly the kind of Jesus many want. One whom they can stuff back in the box and stick back in the basement or attic the rest of the year. He’s not unlike the blow up Santa; just another ornament to decorate an empty life with. Plastic plug in baby Jesus and blow up Santa will sit quietly out in the shed with the plastic witch & plastic Easter bunny and make no demands year after year. You can do as you please with little plastic Jesus, but I wish I could warn all of the world! The real Jesus went on to Calvary where He paid the penalty of death for YOU! The real Jesus was buried in a tomb and after 3 days He rose from the dead FOR YOU. If you’ve been saved by the blood of the Lamb the manger is just the beginning! The real Jesus will live all year in your heart sitting upon the throne. Yes the manger is a tender reminder of the love of our God IF you’ve met the risen Saviour. But if you haven’t, that plastic baby Jesus might just as well be a plastic statue of you. I don’t really care what people do with plastic baby Jesus, but I would to God that they would put the real one in their heart before it is eternally too late. Come worship the great King with us at Calvary Baptist Church. (903)729-5924. 703 Gillespie Rd, Palestine, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

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