The Burial of Faith

I suggest that “faith” be buried, put away, forgotten! Now, before you organize a protest against any suspected heresy on my part, let James explain: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 1:17). Dead faith is useless and should be buried so that it will not be relied upon as being “living faith.” Well, you might ask, “what is living faith?” “Living faith” is faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord! It is a faith that works. It is a faith that brings results. It is a faith in Jesus that is unconditional. Simply believing facts only adds to knowledge but changes nothing. The facts have to be acted on. If Jesus is to be our Savior, it’s obvious that we need to be saved from something and that “something” is sin. If He is our Lord, that means submitting to His Lordship. It means yielding the control of our lives to Him. The Holy Spirit, using God’s Word. initiates a lifelong process of saving us from sin’s power and influence and He motivates and strengthens us to live Godly and righteously. Living faith (genuine faith) will bring these results into our lives. Anything less will not do! However, dead faith is often called for by sincere believers. Wanting to make it simple for people to be saved, they teach and preach that believing the facts and receiving Jesus into your heart assures Heaven forever. Little or nothing is called for about a surrendering of our lives to Jesus. Until we do that, our “faith” is dead faith and leaves us spiritually dead. It is obvious from his hymn, All to Jesus, I Surrender,” that Judson W. Van De Venter understood “living” faith: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. All to Jesus I surrender, make me, Savior, wholly Thine; let me feel Thy Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine. All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; fill me with Thy love and power, let Thy blessing fall on me. I surrender all, I surrender all; all to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” Selah! A “few” with “living” faith will  strengthen the church; many with only “dead” faith will weaken the church. Ron

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The Wonder of God and the Focus of Men

There are two choices that we can make about where we focus our time, money, energy, abilities and desires. We can focus on the wonder of God or on ourselves. We know, if Jesus is our Lord and Savior, that God’s wonder must come to be our supreme focus. How many times do we stop and evaluate if God is our primary focus? Do we acknowledge that He should be our focus and then slip into the routine (rut?) of making ourselves our primary focus? Easy to do and hard to change the focus on self. However, making Him the major focus of our lives is a discipline that is at the heart of true discipleship. For us to get the right focus and enjoy the view of God, sharply and clearly, requires self discipline. We must give quality time and effort to listening to Him, studying Him, learning about Him, etc. Top priority is time in His Word and authentic prayer. We are not only to think on Him, we are to worship, praise, love and appreciate Him. We need to discern His Presence and learn to gaze on His Person and glory. Once this focus is begun, there are other means to deepen our focus. We can learn from and be motivated by the lives of others who have become caught up in His wonder, His splendor, His glory and His grace. Jesus is the One Who enables us to truly “see” God. John understood! He wrote: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory….).” (From John 1:14). John also quoted Jesus: “….he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” (From John 14:9). This hymn expresses the wonder of His Person: “To Jesus ev’ry day I find my heart is closer drawn; He’s fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn; He’s all my fancy pictured in its fairest dreams and more; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. His glory broke upon me when I saw Him from afar; He’s fairer than the lily, brighter than the morning star; He fills and satisfies my longing spirit o’er and o’er; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. My heart is sometimes heavy, but He comes with sweet relief; He folds me to His bosom when I droop with blighting grief, I love the Christ who all my burdens in His body bore; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. The half cannot be fancied, this side the golden shore; O there He’ll be still sweeter than He ever was before.” (“Still Sweeter Every Day,”-By William C. Martin). Selah! “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to (give) the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). Our focus cannot be on the world and ourselves, and on God at the same time! You and I must determine which is to be our highest focus!   Ron

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Two Kinds of Contentment

The right kind of contentment is a blessing. The wrong kind can be “numbing” and rob you of purpose. For the sake of this article let’s think in terms of positive and negative contentment. Negative contentment is characterized by attitudes like these: “You can’t change it, so live with it!” “Whatever will be, will be!” “So just go with the flow!” Only a genuine Christian can really have ongoing positive contentment. This kind is characterized by these responses: Paul: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, (therewith) to be content” (Philippians 4:11). The Psalmist: “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). Paul to Timothy: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (I Timothy 6:8). This is not a blind trust to avoid reality but confidence in the love, control, wisdom and faithfulness of God. Our Heavenly Father knows when to give and when not to give. Al Smith reminds us in his hymn by this name, “Surely He Will Care for You,” that He will take care of His own: “Why do you let the troubles of tomorrow bring sorrow to your heart, and burdens too? For if the Father’s eye is on the sparrow, then surely He will care for you. He knoweth and careth, each burden He beareth;  For if the Father’s eye is on the sparrow, then surely He will care for you.” Selah! Remember that to worry is a breach of trust. We’ve been wisely taught that “Worry is assuming responsibility that God never intended us to have.” (From Institute in Basic Life Principles).     Ron

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The Fallacy of “Secret Sin”

The Fallacy of “Secret Sin”

September 13, 2017

No sin is private. It may be secret but it is not private.

It is a great error to hold, as some do, that each man’s conduct is his own business unless his acts infringe on the rights of others. “My liberty ends where yours begins” is true, but that is not all the truth. No one ever has the right to commit an evil act, no matter how secret. God wills that men should be free, but not that they be free to commit sin.

Sin is three-dimensional and has consequences in three directions: toward God, toward self and toward society. It alienates from God, degrades self and injures others. Adam’s is the classic example of a secret sin that overflowed to the injury of all mankind. History provides examples of persons so placed that their sins had wide and injurious effect upon their generation. Such men were Nero, Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin, to name but four. These men dramatized the destructive social results of personal sin; but every sin, every sinner injures the world and harms society, though the effects may be milder and less noticeable.

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like today if Napoleon had become a Christian when he was in his teens? Or if Hitler had learned to control his temper? Or if Stalin had been tenderhearted? Or if Himmler had fainted at the sight of blood? Or if Goebles had become a missionary to Patagonia? Or if the twelve men in the Kremlin should get converted to Christianity? Or if all businessmen should suddenly turn honest? Or if every politician should stop lying?


My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes


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Tools or Traps?

I find it interesting that many good things with which we are blessed can be great tools or great traps. Consider these examples: movies can be educational; they can give wholesome entertainment; they can help spread the gospel. It is the same with books. On the other hand, these can teach error, focus our affections on worldly things or just occupy an inordinate amount of our time. One of these blessings seems to have a much greater impact as a tool or a trap. I have technologies in mind. Computers, I-Pads, smart phones, etc. can help us in many ways and are wonderful inventions with many good uses. However, far too many of us have become entrenched in the cyber world and lost sight of the real world. Have we become so engrossed in technological fascination that this has taken our minds off of God and the things of God? Have we focused on gadgetry? In Colossians 3:1-2, Paul’s inspired admonition may be needed even more in our day: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Are we to “use” these blessings from God? Again, Paul offers balance: “And they that use this world, as not abusing (it): for the fashion of this world passeth away (I Corinthians 7:31). Helen H. Lemmel’s hymn. “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” has a wonderful chorus that speaks clearly to today’s subject: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Selah! Yes, God gives us good things as tools; let us not allow them to become traps”  Ron


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Hostile Observers

We who know Jesus as Savior and Lord do not only display the wonder of God’s love and grace to those who share our joy; we display it to enemies as well. Hostile observers are confronted with the marvel of His grace. They have lost those of us who are trophies of God’s grace, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to inflict damage and destroy our testimonies. J. B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians 6:12 this way: “We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” God’s work of grace displayed in the lives of those who have been saved brings home to these fallen angels (demons) their ultimate failure and doom. Pride and rebellion have consequences! These evil agents (demons) can harm us, but they can’t have us. We, however, don’t need to be harmed.  Paul explained how we can be kept from harm: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!” (Ephesians 6:14-17). When God’s means are used these evil powers are helpless to damage God’s trophies. S. Baring Gould gave us: “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” In the following stanzas and chorus, we see how applying Ephesians 6:14-17 renders these hostile observers defeated: “Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before! Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see His banner go! At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; on, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise! Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before!” Selah! Use of armor and equipment assures victory. Without these, we are victims!   Ron

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God’s “Showcase”

There is an unlimited amount of things for which to praise God, give thanks to Him and worship Him. One thing that isn’t always fully valued is found in Ephesians 3:10 and I Corinthians 4:9. Speaking of God’s grace to sinners, Paul in Ephesians 3:10 tells us that it was: “to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in Heavenly (places) might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God…. In I Corinthians 4:9, Paul writes: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed unto death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” The word “spectacle” here comes from a word from which we get our word: “theater.” To Heavenly beings, it’s like we are on display. We are trophies of God’s grace on display in His “showcase.” It shouts: “Look what God’s grace and love have created!”  To many it is like “theater.” As the production unfolds, the audience sees the Christians as scum, foolish, ignorant and pitiful. however, the final act has yet to be seen. Jesus is “….bringing many sons unto glory….” (From Hebrews 2:10). In the final act, death has been defeated. Love and grace have prevailed. Sin has been removed and Heavenly glory is the “forever” portion of those who truly know Jesus as Lord and Savior! In his hymn, “Holy, Holy Is What the Angels Sing, Johnson Oatman describes the time when the “sons of God come into their own:” “Holy, Holy, is what the angels sing, and I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring; but when I sing redemptions’ story, they will fold their wings, for angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings.” Selah! As the tragic drama of sin and evil plays out on the stage of life, all appears hopeless. However, in the grand climax and new “Home,” the redeemed receive a “standing ovation” from the Heavenly hosts and a “well done” from the King of Glory! A crescendo of praise ascends to the Throne!     Ron

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