Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Understanding Baptism


By Benjamin H. Liles

          I baptize you with water to show that your hearts and lives have changed [for repentence]. But there is one coming after me who is ·greater [mightier; more powerful] than I am, whose sandals I am not good enough [fit; qualified] to carry. 

Carrying Others Burdens


By Benjamin H. Liles

          Carry others burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the Law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2, Berean Study.        

A Call to Sinners


By Benjamin H. Liles

           I have not come to invite [call] good people [the righteous; meaning the “self-righteous” who feel no need to repent] but sinners to change their hearts and lives [repentance]. ~ Luke 5:32, Expanded
       

Feeling Poorly...Again

By Benjamin H. Liles

          So, here I am yet again asking for prayers for my health. My wife got sick and is feeling better quicker than I am. For those who read my blog/site, keep us both lifted up. Thanks. God bless. I will post as soon as I feel well.

The Confidence of the Lord


By Benjamin H. Liles

          The people of Judah and Jerusalem met in front of the new courtyard in the Temple of the Lord. Then Jehoshaphat stood up, and he said, “Lord, God of our ancestors, you are the God in heaven. You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. 


First Things First


By Benjamin H. Liles

          Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life. Those who give up their lives for me will hold on to true life. ~ Matthew 10:39, Expanded

          Commitment. What does it mean when we say we will commit to doing something? I go back to the day I married my wife Tanya.


Walking through the Shadow


By Benjamin H. Liles

           Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid for you are with me. Your rod [crook] and shepherd's staff comfort me. ~ Psalm 23:4, Expanded

          As of late, I have been down these past few days with bronchitis. It has made me feel weak and powerless, at least in part, in the ability to both breathe and function as best I can.

Small Break, Health

By Benjamin H. Liles

         I want to thank everybody who has been taking the time to read and stay updated with what I post regarding the Bible being God's word.  At the moment, I have to take a small break, not that I want to, due to the fact I have a health problem.

Explaining God's Word


By Benjamin H. Liles

          And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. ~ Nehemiah 8:5-6, New King James

Extending Justice God's Way


By Benjamin H. Liles

          Seek good and not evil, that you may live. Hate evil, love good; establish justice at the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. ~ Amos 5:14-15, New King James

Gone Fishing


By Benjamin H. Liles

         Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7, New King James

          I remember a few times in my life where I felt so worry-free and unburdened by things. I may never have liked fishing with my dad, but I enjoyed being with him.


God Provides


By Benjamin H. Liles

          And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19, New American Standard

          Every single day that I live I experience something new, not only about myself, about God and His mercies. I have used the verse, "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6, New American Standard) a great deal. And I feel it has led to this article. You see, I may come across in my own marriage to my wife, Tanya, that I don't worry, but in fact I do.

          We go through a great deal in this life. We worry about small things; the kinds of things that God looks at and says, to some degree, "I have that. You don't have to keep worrying." Jesus tells us specifically, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:25, 27, 34, Berean Study).

          How does God maintain the promise He will never leave nor forsake you? He does it by remaining near to us regardless of what we go through. I don't mean to come off sounding cavalier or even trite on this. Chances are you are going through some heady trials right now. It's possible your spouse is divorcing you, or you received news you are being laid off, or even so far as being told you have cancer. Where is God in all of that? How does He provide and keep His promise of being there?

          Where was the Father the night Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane? Was He close to His Son even then? I would say He was. "And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:41-44).

          The bad news you are getting has everything to do with you needing to be near to God. He is already there. Look again at the passage: "Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him." We would love to think the Son of God, Jesus, never needed the Father's strength or power in His life. Most would say He didn't. There's no truth to that. 

           Why? Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."
 
           “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:1-8, New King James). 

          If we look back at certain scriptures we see that God was providing a way for Abraham to believe in Him and His word. "So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” 

          "So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me" (Genesis 22:6-12). 

          We could say it was a faith and relationship building exercise between God and Abraham. But look again at what Jesus was going through the night of His darkest trial. Once again, the steps to Moriah were being taken. At first glance, the hilltop seems bare except for one man weeping in pain about what was to transpire. The sweat on his brow is thick and heavy, so much so that drops of blood hit the ground. He cries out in anguish, "Father, not my will, but Yours be done!" I wonder, what did Abraham think while Isaac and him walked that lonely path where Calvary would later stand? Did he have faith God would provide?

          Recent news has been shared of a Hollywood actress going through cancer treatments. This actress has been battling breast cancer for quite some time. And yet she's kicking butt and taking names in regards to the rigorous treatment. I don't know for sure if she belongs to God, through Jesus our Messiah, but considering she was filmed dancing one day after chemotherapy radiation astounds me. 



          It seems that when things get tough we can either do one of two things: one, we can sit and sulk believing nothing will happen; or two, we can keep on doing what God commands us to do. He has given us His word, which is Jesus, who died in our place at the cross. All we have to do is take Him as He is and live our lives the way He did through Jesus. Okay, the mountain is too high, I get that. Some times, with the right tools, you can dig through it - but at least it can be done (not saying this as if it's our work, the work belongs to Jesus, He just shows us how to do it, proverbially). But the whole point is God, the Father, is there with us all through it and even past the end. 

          Father, You provide so much and I feel I'm not even grateful enough for what You have done and still do for me. Your ways are so high and mysterious, who can assuredly know them? I can't begin to understand You, Your mercy, Your love, and Your patience in the least bit. I don't know how things work out, but they seem to always work out and in Your timing. I don't have to worry about anything. You got this. It's my part to believe You, Your word, and remember all the times You came through for me. With that in my heart and mind I praise You for the wonders You have done and will continue to do in and through my life. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

God's Persuasion


By Benjamin H. Liles

          For through the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. ~ Romans 12:3

          I know I have talked a great deal about how Jesus fulfills God's word to us, showing us He is God's plan for us. At the same time, we cannot fully know God without being given some sign He is there. And one of the first times He shows Himself to us is with Jacob. Up until Jacob, God walked with a few men: Noah, Abraham, and Isaac. But with Jacob, God gives him a dream.

          We read, "Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also, your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you" (Genesis 28:12-15, New King James).


           Paul writes, "I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of ·your own efforts, so ·you cannot brag about it" (Ephesians 2:8-9). It means that the measure of faith God gives to us is enough to save us, as it is His grace which we receive. We cannot ever save ourselves. It has to be done by God. There is a reason Jesus said, "For people this is impossible, but for God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26, Expanded). I realize Jesus was talking about how to honor Him best with our possessions, but anyone can come to salvation. It's up to God as to who can and will be reached. All we are to do is to help in persuading.

          More than that, we need to be willing to be as gentle as the Lord is on this. We can't bang on someone's door, demanding, "Come out and be saved!" No, God is not like that. We read in another book, "Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and have dinner with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20, Jesus is speaking, Holman Christian Standard). It is up to us whether we choose to listen and obey or to keep that door shut. He will never just barge in unannounced.

          Alongside that, it is also through God's persuasion of us to come and join Him that we conquer the grave and therefore death too. John wrote, "Everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that ·conquers the world—our faith" (1 John 5:4, Expanded). Without Him being active in our life, which is our faith being worked out, we can do nothing apart from Him (see John 15:5). It is by Him and Him alone we not only have faith but His grace, as well as salvation. It is through Jesus that we have these in abundance.

          Father, in Your holiness, I see how You planned to grab my attention. You do it through the starry host that You made and set in the sky. You did it through the amazing things that show off your handiwork: nature, animals, and ultimately having made us in Your likeness. We are Your expression on Earth. We not only experience laughter, sadness, grief, and joy, just as You do. Even though we cannot create things like You can, with our mouths, You have given us the ability to make things with our hands. Still, You make it known to me that I can have faith in You. For You have said in Your word, "Neither will I leave nor forsake You" (see Hebrews 13:5). I thank You for Your promises. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Being Faithful in Forgiveness





By Benjamin H. Liles

          But do not forget [ignore; miss] this one thing, ·dear friends [L beloved]: To the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day [C our perception of time is not the same as God’s; Ps. 90:4]. ~ 2 Peter 3:8, Expanded

          A couple of nights ago my wife, Tanya, and I were talking about 2 Peter 3. And in its context, it looks like Peter is saying we shouldn't mock or put God down simply because He chooses the moment in which to act. More specifically, I told her, "God is eternal, so we don't necessarily see things as He does." How did I come to that conclusion? Peter says, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: To the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day."

          If I was in a friendship with you, and I told you, "Take care of my property until I come back, and give you your just payment." No matter how long it took me to come back, would you sit and mock me, knowing when I come back--although I delay returning--you will get your just desserts (so to speak)? I believe we both know that friendship would be terminated rather quickly once I know the truth of how you truly feel about me. God is no more or any less the same in that aspect.

          It's interesting to note that after Peter says what he does from 2 Peter 3:1-9, he tells us, "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter 3:11-12, New King James). He's given us the keys of the kingdom. He commands us to live as He does and has. 

          Not only has He restored us to Him through the Son, Jesus the Messiah. Not only has He commanded we love others as He loved us, as evidenced in the sacrifice the Messiah rendered at the cross. But we are to be called His. As His Church, His people, we are to model the very things He has shown to us. It doesn't seem too long ago that I wrote, "We need to understand that as Christians we are to live our lives pleasing to Jesus Christ. It means that when we are saved by and through His merciful and loving graciousness which He gave us at the cross we desire to live a life that pleases Him. It means putting off sin, its effects, and walking in newness of life as He gave it in abundance to us" (The Messiah Will Come Again). 

          So, we should live our lives as much as God is holy. He has been more than patient with us so should we ought to be as well. We cannot go around acting like, "Oh, yes, He won't return at any moment, so what you owe me you owe me now!" In fact, Jesus had this to say about doing that kind of thing: "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses" (Matthew 18:32-33, 35, New King James).

          I know Peter isn't talking about us forgiving one another in his letter to all of us. But when we act like Jesus isn't coming back to fully restore us to the Kingdom, and to judge the nations, he might as well be talking about our need to forgive one another all outstanding debts. Why else would Peter have written the words "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13, New King James)? We aren't just to have His merciful compassion within our hearts, but also His righteousness. It means where He forgives us, we ought to forgive as well. It's not a suggestion. It's a command to see how faithful we will be until His return in guarding and tending His garden and flock.

          Father, You who are holy, mighty, and just, forgive me for when I act out in the wrong ways. You are far more loving and merciful than I ever could long for or even aspire to. The fact I come to You daily, asking for Your guidance in how I am to live toward others as well as with myself, shows You how much I want to be ruled rightly be You. I want it to be seen that I stand with and for You. I will be honest enough to admit that I am not any better than anyone else. I much rather be truthful about how I feel I stand with You and before You; I am a sinner and sinful. Yes, You may call me Your child, but I want others to see You and Your love in my heart. If I don't have You in my life, or for it being evident, then I have absolutely nothing and no standing with or before You. Continue showing me, Your child and servant, how to live before You in humility and in love. In Jesus I pray. Amen.

Love Mercy and Walk Humbly


By Benjamin H. Liles

          He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8, NKJV

          It says a great deal when we are able to do as Christ commands. He said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19). 

          What fulfills the Law of Moses, which God gave to Israel and now to us who claim they follow Christ? Paul says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (! Corinthians 13:4-7).

          Love. It passes the test of what the Ten Commandments talk about. First, it shows how we are to love and worship the God of the universe. Secondly, we're told how to love our neighbor. Violation of any of these two commands means we break the whole of the law. Jesus replies to those of us who ask the question "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" with "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

          So, then if love shows the way how we can honor God and give respect towards one another, we can see how only Jesus Christ can change the heart of man. We're all separated from God without Christ in our lives. We simply cannot love others unselfishly and without any kind of gain by not having Him residing in us. Don't think I'm trying to preach at any specific person on my facebook page. I know I'm guilty as much as anyone else in not showing Christian love toward God as well as others. Do I suffer long and am kind to others? I can't claim that.

           I can't do that without Christ in my life. Can I love without envy? Without parading myself about? Without behaving rudely or even without being provoked? No, as Paul points it out so very well, "[Love] rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." By loving others as Christ does means this simply: live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Christ did so by obeying and abiding in Him. So can we, but with His help. Won't you allow Him the same right?

Fearless


By Benjamin H. Liles

          Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this, I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should. ~ Ephesians 6:19-20, Holman Christian Standard


          Being fearless when we speak, that's the issue today. How bold are we truly when it comes to talking and even communicating to others? We are probably our boldest and comfortable when we meet new people, maybe even when it comes to making lasting friendships. But are you bold, perhaps even fearless, when it comes to things that matter to you? Things like eternal life? Paul laid his life down. He did so even after his Christian conversion. He was still very much Jewish, just as was Jesus, and his other contemporaries: Matthew, John Mark (we know him as Mark), Luke, John, Peter, Silas, Barnabas, and a list of others. All of these men weren't just the first Christians or even bold in their testimony, they were first and foremost Jewish. 

          The disciples themselves, aside from Paul (who was educated as a Pharisee), almost all of them were fishermen. Peter, Andrew, John and James (the sons of Zebedee, see Mark 3:17), these were known to be fishermen. They weren't the most qualified to end up preachers of the gospel. But they knew their history as Israelites, not just as Jews. They knew the Messiah would come, so it was no surprise when Jesus came and told them to, "Come," that they all dropped their nets and followed Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.

          How do we know Jesus is the Messiah? There are numerous prophecies that indicate Jesus would fulfill them. In fact, two were given directly to Jesus' so-called parents. I'm not going out of my way to disrespect godly people. They both found favor with God. We read: 

               "Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in (walked into their home), the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
 
                   But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom, there will be no end.”

                   Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I do not know a man?”

               And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:26-35, New King James).

          Since I firmly believe there are godly messengers who give His word in a timely manner, I don't find it odd that the angel Gabriel told her this. The interesting part is what the angel tells her, around the 32nd verse: He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David." Why does that specifically catch my eye? David when he wrote Psalm 2, penned the words, "I will declare the LORD's decree: He said to Me, 'You are My Son; today I have become Your Father'" (Psalm 2:7, New American Standard). It's prophetic in the sense that God would accomplish a great thing where David's house would remain intact. That's part of the reason you see genealogies in both Luke and Matthew showing Jesus' descent from David.

          Likewise, Mary wasn't the only one who had a Heavenly visitation. Even Joseph, her husband had one as well. In this passage from Matthew we read --

               "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother, Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:18-21, New King James, bold and italics mine). 

           This is interesting as the verse that supports Matthew 1:21 is Jeremiah 23:6; we read here, "
In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness'" (New American Standard). This is how we see that prophecies from the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New Testament. Jesus is the fulfillment of God's words. But considering we're talking about being bold, being fearless in our witness of what we see God having done, it also suits to provide how the apostles knew of which they spoke of.

          They weren't simply men who were either educated or uneducated, as the case may be. They had God's Spirit on them. It was by the Spirit of the Lord they were able to be this way: fearless, bold. It is through the Spirit we have an amazing witness we can give to others. We have this tremendous access so that when we have moments of discouragement, moments where we feel inadequate, we can rely on God's strength. It is further proof that God kept His promise that we can "Be strong and courageous; don't be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6, Holman Christian Standard). He is our just reward!

          When we give up our lives so that God, the Father, and Jesus, His Son, is glorified, no matter what circumstance we are in - we can totally rely on Him and in His word. Our hearts may give on us. We have weak moments. It's as though the storms we go through can paralyze us with fear. But God says to us, in short, "Put your faith in me; I got this." We can be fearless, but it comes mainly from God, which we exercise in our faith. And we can have His authority in our lives, but in order to do so, we need to submit ourselves to Him. It means putting off those things that keep us held down, such as sin.

          Father, You are ever more fearless than I will ever be. I thank and praise You for who You are. I know You as Adonai-Shammah, The Lord is Present, for You seem always near to me no matter where I am. I know You are holy, pure, and will always be undefiled. Help me to always remain in You, which means I am kept away from filth as well. You know me. I don't enjoy doing the wrong things, ever. Keep me in and with You. I know You will always be there so I will also do my best to remain close to you. In Jesus' name. I pray. Amen.

Articles/Blog Update

By Benjamin H. Liles

          I just wanted everyone who has been following and reading my blog that there were issues with images on blog posts showing up. The issue has been resolved (hopefully and prayerfully). For some it will be thought of as a small thing, but to me it's a big thing as I like to break up content with images. It makes this site flow better.

Why God Punishes


By Benjamin H. Liles

           I have thought about this heavily all throughout the weekend, especially into this new year of 2017. Things in this world aren't getting any better. Frankly, ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, things have progressively gotten worse over the years. We think of God and His wrath as being only justified in the light of whether we have received His commandments or not. There is no exception. No tribe on this planet is without excuse before Him. It's why Paul wrote in a paraphrase of Old Testament passages, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:10-12).

          That paraphrase comes from Psalm 14:1, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God. (He, if He isn't a She, just simply cannot be known.)' They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good," and David wrote these words. How prophetic sounding is that in these latter days? How many people out there are actually dying and hurting believing; no, actually thinking God can't be known or even begin to understand? Is it because they haven't tried? Is it because they once did and trampled their own salvation under foot? Don't get me wrong I used to subscribe to the notion of "Once saved, always saved." But does scripture even support that idea?

          I know that's a lot of questions. They are good and honest questions. The topic is, however, on this idea of a Punishing God. We'll answer these questions no matter how long this article gets. But first things first we need to understand one huge, glaring aspect of God. His holiness. God is so holy not one person under God's Heaven can withstand looking upon Him, at least not directly. Isaiah cried out, "Woe is me, for I am a man unclean, from unclean people, with unclean lips!" (see Isaiah 6:5, my paraphrase). 

           Even Daniel said, "Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make a request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments" (Daniel 9:3-5).

          Both of these men and countless other Biblical men who encountered the glorious God came away feeling they were somehow less than God. Let's look at the word "holy:" it means "dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred;" with synonyms such as "sacred, revered, divine," and even "hallowed." Hallow itself means "to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate." He, God, tells Moses, "'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you"'" (Exodus 3:14, New King James). In other words, since Israelites consider God being that holy and revered render His name YHWH. We, in the English-speaking world, render that name as "God" or even "LORD." His name is Yahweh, and it means exactly what God told Moses. We get the word Jehovah from a combination of YHWH and Adonai: YaHoWaH by using the consonants YHWH and inserting the vowels a-o-a in between the consonants, as you can tell. Why does God's holiness matter?

          Almost toward the beginning of earthly time, sometime during the Eden years or even shortly thereafter (no one knows for sure, not even myself) a rebellion took place in Heaven, God's holy court. We read, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer (Day Star), son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High (God Most High).’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit" (Isaiah 14:12-15).

          There are numerous people who sit and claim God created evil and sin. If that's the case why is it God pronounces His own judgment against this created being who not only rebelled but also was found with pride? God may create, but nothing He has ever created was ever corrupt from inception. Look again at the Creation story: "Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day" (Genesis 1:3-5, bold mine). I'll get back to answering the questions I posed, but if God looks on something He creates and He is satisfied so much with what He made He sees it as "good," does that mean it is corrupt? No. Not in the least bit. People want to charge God with the Creation of sin because those who say it don't really want to see that it comes from within them. It is a willing choice.

          Think on this a moment, and I'll go back to answering my questions I posed earlier: God creates everything; the light, the land, the grass, animals, all of it. He then makes the first in a line to descend from him, man and woman. He charges man, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of [that fruit] you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam has been created and set in the garden. God charges him with that command. He notices that there is no other like Adam. So what does God do? He makes a helper to co-exist, so to speak, with this man. He creates woman, or as her name is Eve.

          What makes me think that this angel called Lucifer rebelled before the garden scene, is what his nature is. Peter wrote, "Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8, Berean Study). Furthermore, when we look at this: "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?" (Genesis 3:1, italics and bold mine), says so much of this adversary's nature. 

          If the "Day Star," Lucifer, came down in pride to Eden in the form of a serpent, and we know he's cunning (other similar words are crafty, devious, sly, scheming, and calculating) then who's to say he hasn't pulled the proverbial "wool over everyone's eyes?" I mean, this is a being who had been with God. He walked with God. 

          We read of Nebuchadnezzar, "At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:29-30). God isn't proud. He didn't create pride. If pride didn't come from man, initially, and we have found verses suggesting "another" who was found with pride, then why would we attribute the idea of God creating sin as His fault? We are fallible. We are the ones in wrong. When we become like the Prodigal Son, seeing how far apart from our Father we really are, we run back as fast as we can proclaiming, "Oh, how I have wronged you! Make me your servant and not you child! At least I will have food!" Our Father, who is loving and merciful restores us. But before He can do that we have a sense of fear and punishment, rather His wrath upon us.

          Look at this verse: I remember using it not too long ago, as well, "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, King James 2000 Bible, bold and italics mine). Remember Daniel and Isaiah both did this. They put themselves at the mercy of God on High. they received their respective commissions (see Isaiah 6:8 and Daniel 9:20-27) as they saw prevalent sin in their lives as well as their people, Israel.

          With all of that said and done at this moment, let's go back to those questions I asked. "How prophetic sounding is that in these latter days? How many people out there are actually dying and hurting believing; no, actually thinking God can't be known or even begin to understand? Is it because they haven't tried? Is it because they once did and trampled their own salvation under foot? Don't get me wrong I used to subscribe to the notion of "Once saved, always saved." But does scripture even support that idea?" 

          Even in our modern educated days, we have tremendous access to all sorts of information. We need to "clear the cobwebs" so to speak in sifting through all of it. Some of the information we have is good and reliable and others are trash. So, why do we believe, actually, where do we get the idea or notion that there is "no God?" I believe it's two things. The first is we don't see the one of the primary attributes of God and keep that in the forefront of our minds: His patiently merciful endurance to deal with us righteously. We have been all through His holiness, His right justice, and how loving He is. How much more so is that even now when we cry out so much, "We want justice!" If He came back, here and now, in our demands of it we would all be judged in His fairness, not according to our standards. If He rendered judgment as we do then none of us can stand.

          Thank God I am not Him! He has the task ahead of Him in declaring who is righteous, who has faith, who has done His commands, who has lived and run for the eternal prize waiting for them. All of that judgment is His and His alone! Do you truly think and believe God would smile at you in that circumstance, or would you be prostrate before Him, pleading for your life? I find it hard to pray for two minutes, let alone even one minute. I can't comprehend myself how forgiving He will be of me.

          Back to attempting to answer how God will respond to us isn't easy in the least bit. I know it would be hard to see or believe that in my early life I had even acted like an atheist. Even though I recall looking at the night sky, at the age of five or six, and hearing deep within my own heart that "God is here," I lived a huge amount of my life as though He didn't exist. What changed in me? Was it the fact I fear him? I have to admit that yes, I do. However, and this is a strong however, I also understand His character. We see verses such as "Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth" (Exodus 34:6, New American Standard) sprinkled throughout His word and we shrug it off. James wrote, "See how blessed we consider those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy" (James 5:11, Berean Study).

          Where do we get the idea that God will bring compassion on us? Is it because it's simply His nature? That He will exonerate each and every one of us? Looking on 2 Chronicles 7:14 indicates otherwise: "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." How has God done this? Through Jesus. He came restoring sight to the blind (see John 9:1-11), healing people from lameness (see Matthew 15:30), and forgiving people their sin (see Mark 2:10). This is the same Jesus who bore our punishment at the cross. Because of His death and resurrection from the grave we have access to the Father.

          In my heart of hearts, I believe the reason so many fall away from the Church these days is that there are popular and misuided ministers who proclaim they are God's but in fact emulate exactly what Jesus said would happen. "Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15, Berean Study). It is folks like these who lead people astray, and in time their people fall away. I won't sit here and point my finger at any specific so-called minister who has done this thing. But I can call attention to it. Jesus said that there would be those who present themselves "in sheep's clothing..." I would rather teach right, having a fear and reverence for Him who saved and forgave me. After all, we're told, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3:1, Berean Study). It is also on those who teach wrongly who will be held more accountable for their falseness before their congregants. But that's why a lot of people fall out of Church, claiming "there is no God." They don't see a God who is ready, willing, and able to forgive. It is because of that lie.

          I have a problem with the idea of Once Saved, Always Saved doctrine. Why? The short answer is that as Christians we are called to uphold the character and likeness of Jesus the Messiah. He says, "No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house" (Matthew 5:15, Holman Christian Standard). If we belong to Him who saved and forgave us, we remain on the stand giving off the light He gave to us. It is a willing, and participating act. Likewise, Jesus said, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28, Berean Study). But those verses also show we are His eternally.

           While we, as obedient and faithful Christians, are given eternal security, which is our guarantee, look at one thing Jesus said in John 10:28: "No one can snatch them out of my hand." It doesn't mean that a Christian can't give up. For a Christian to lose faith and to become disobedient I call into question whether they were Jesus' to begin with. Authentic, God-fearing, humble Christians will fight tooth and nail for their inheritance. They will be obedient to death. Scores of first Century Christians gave their lives for the sake of the gospel: people like Paul, John, Matthew, Peter, James, Luke, and many others didn't love their lives to keep on living. No. They gave up their lives. Notice what Jesus said about that: "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, My servant will be as well. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:25-26, Berean Study).

          Considering the length of this article and everything I have covered and went over, I hope it answered tons of questions. If there are other questions that come to you, let me know. I wanted to explain why God judges as He does, why we are able to have the forgiveness of the Messiah Jesus, why we can obtain healing (in today's age it means being able to see Him, speak His name, and spread His word - whether by foot or otherwise), and about our eternal securedness. One thing I didn't say was that those who belong to Him are doomed.

          On that we do have security. As long as we work out our faith daily, doing those things the Lord commands - in love and obedience - our reward is secure 100%. In that sense, a Christian is eternally secure. It is only by flagrant disobedience and lack of faith that a "Christian" loses his prize. As Christians, people of Jesus' majesty, grace, and mercy, we have a sincere obligation to love our lives so much so that we give it up for others. It means being a willing sacrifice as He was who went to the cross on our behalf. That is why Paul wrote, with confidence, "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand" (Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6, Berean Study).

          Father, You alone are holy and pure. I know in and of myself I am not. Because of living a life so long in an attitude and character of sinfulness I know I don't deserve the love or mercy You so willingly gave at the cross of Calvary. I feel very much like the tax collector who beat his breast imploring You, "Forgive me, a sinner!" Yet, because of Your merciful loving kindness I have beheld the richness of your glory. It is why I am able to do what You commanded of me. I enjoy teaching what You show me. I want others who so desperately need You see my love for You that they love You as I do. I want their faith in You to be bolstered. I want their faith to be manifest in a deep, remaining love for and with You. It is in all this I pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.